Most of us look forward to brighter, warmer days. But if you have one of these four conditions, the sun may not always provide much fun.
The rapidly shifting weather patterns of summer can lead to major pain for some migraine sufferers. “It may be that they’re more sensitive to hot weather and the changes in barometric pressure that humidity causes, but it’s unclear how that contributes to migraines,” says Tamika Dawson, MD, a family doctor with Indiana University Health. Water loss from increased sweating may be a contributor, since dehydration is another common cause of migraines. Even sunlight can make your head pound. “When bright light hits your optic nerves, it can turn even a mild headache into a migraine,” says Dr. Dawson. Tracking the weather, staying hydrated, and spending as much time as you can indoors on the hottest, most humid days can also help keep migraines at bay.
Spring and fall are usually the most uncomfortable seasons for asthma sufferers, but for others, summer weather is a trigger. “Hot and humid days can be hard on anyone, but for asthma sufferers, they’re ten times worse,” says Dr. Dawson. That’s because the body has to work harder to maintain a normal temperature when it’s sweltering outside, so it requires more oxygen—and that can be a strain on the lungs for people with asthma. Plus, air quality is often poorer in summer, which can make sufferers more prone to attacks. Fortunately, simply running your air conditioner can lower your risk by cooling you off and filtering the pollutants that irritate your lungs.
Though experts aren’t sure what causes this chronic skin condition—which is characterized by facial redness, red bumps, and visible blood vessels—it is known that heat and sun exposure can trigger a flare in symptoms for some. “We don’t know why that is, but it may be that people with rosacea are allergic to the sun’s ultraviolet rays,” says Dr. Dawson. To avoid a flare, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen (which protects you from both UVA and UVB rays) of at least 30. Look for varieties that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, since these ingredients are the least irritating.
The gloom of winter can trigger the blues in almost anyone, but for others, summer days can be just as much of a downer. Little is known about summer depression since it hasn’t been studied extensively, but sensitivity to heat and bright sunlight may play a role. And then there are the social pressures that go along with summer. “Depression can be very isolating, and seeing other people outside having fun can exacerbate that feeling,” explains Dr. Dawson. For some, summertime sadness may be the first sign that they don’t just have the blues. “A person might feel down in the winter and blame it on the weather, but then summer comes and they realize they’re still depressed,” says Dr. Dawson. In that case, a consultation with a psychologist may be in order.
-- By Jessica Brown