Migraines…are they weather related?


If you read my blog, you know I suffer from migraines. Mine are more of a clustering effect, in other words, I have several in a row then they stop for a bit. They are not fun. I have often wondered if they can be related to the weather. It does seem that when I have them, the weather is extreme. By extreme, I mean that it is bitterly cold, or excessively hot. Add in weather fronts and you get the idea. So, I decided to check it out.  I found several enlightening articles. It is amazing that what migraines sufferers thought about weather and their headaches, is indeed true. The proof is here, Read on…

This first one is from http://www.encognitive.com/node/6930. It follows:

Weather report: Migraines ahead

When migraine researchers compared 2 years of headache diaries from 77 migraine sufferers with National Weather Service data, science upheld popular wisdom about the big headache: Weather really can bring one on.

Half of the study volunteers had head pain triggered by the weather. The top culprits:

• Cold, dry weather: 22% • Hot, humid weather: 12% • High or low barometric pressure: 13% • Changes in weather patterns: 14%

Others were sensitive to a combination of weather conditions. “A weather change could occur on a Tuesday and these patients might not get their migraine until Wednesday or Thursday,” says study coauthor Alan M. Rapoport, MD, director of the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, CT.

Pain relief strategy: Keep track of headaches and weather conditions to uncover triggers. And take your migraine prescription at the first sign of head pain.

The next one I found is from http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/news/20090309/warm-weather-may-trigger-migraines and it follows:

Warm Weather May Trigger Migraines

Temperature Increase Is the Biggest Weather-Related Headache Trigger, Research Suggests
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD


March 9, 2009 — Most migraine sufferers believe that weather changes can bring on their headaches, but the scientific proof has been lacking — until now.

New research suggests that certain weather conditions may trigger migraines and other severe headaches. But frequent sufferers may be surprised by some of the findings.

The study reveals that:

  • Regardless of the time of year, an increase in temperature was the biggest weather-related headache trigger. Researchers reported that every 9 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature raised the headache risk by 7.5%.
  • Low barometric air pressure is considered by some to be specific to migraines, but the study found no link between migraines and low-pressure systems. The researchers say lower pressure was associated with a small increase in risk for non-migraine headaches.
  • Air pollution was not strongly associated with an increased risk for migraine or non-migraine headaches. But the automobile exhaust pollutant nitrogen dioxide did show a borderline effect on non-migraine headaches.

Weather, Pollution, and Migraines

The study is one of the largest ever to examine the impact of weather and air pollution on headaches.

But study lead author Kenneth J. Mukamal, MD, of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard School of Public Health, tells WebMD that an even bigger study would be needed to understand the impact of air pollution on headaches.

“We are not saying that air pollution is not a headache trigger,” he says. “What we can say with some confidence is that the effect is not enormous.”

Mukamal and colleagues compared the medical records of 7,054 headache patients treated at a Boston hospital’s emergency department over a seven-year period to official records of pollution levels and weather conditions in the days before treatment.

Specific weather conditions including temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity were also examined at other key time periods.

Although rising temperature was identified as the biggest weather-related headache trigger, the researchers concluded that the impact may not be clinically meaningful.

“This magnitude of excess risk is obviously modest and may not be an important factor in the clinical management of individual patients, given the many other potential triggers of migraine that patients face,” they write.

The study was published in the journal Neurology and was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Other Headache Triggers

Migraine specialist Stephen Silberstein, MD, a spokesman for the American Academy of Neurology, tells WebMD that patients often can reduce the number and severity of the headaches they have by understanding their own triggers.

Common migraine triggers include:

  • Hormonal changes. For many women, migraines are closely linked to their menstrual cycle, with headaches occurring immediately before or during their periods.
  • Diet and eating habits. Fasting or skipping meals and dehydrationare two big migraine triggers, Silberstein says.
  • Overuse of pain drugs for headaches. This can lead to rebound headaches.
  • Intense exertion. Strenuous exerciseand even sex can bring on migraines.
  • Changes in sleep habits and stress. Getting too much or too little sleep can trigger headaches. And stress is a big trigger for many people.

Many migraine sufferers believe that particular foods trigger their headaches. Silberstein says it is clear that alcohol, the flavor enhancer MSG, and caffeine withdrawal can do this.

But he adds that there is little scientific evidence linking other commonly cited foods like chocolate and artificial sweeteners to headaches.


7 thoughts on “Migraines…are they weather related?

  1. Ryan Chase

    Drowsiness and/or tissue pain on the onset of rapid barometric pressure drops is a sign of immune related inflammation of membranes mediating gas transport.
    Inflammation isolates tissue by cell swelling on the protien tissue skeleton. Barometric pressure changes further locks the dam. I recommend a food sensitive elimination diet. MOST doctors will not advise on treatment free cures. 3 Days of a immune clean diet will nearly eliminate all such symptoms. Some fish have good slime, some need tropical water.

  2. Liz

    Fascinating. My sister has weather related migraines…And I have arthritis responses to changes in barometric pressure…Nice to know we are not alone.

    • I agree Liz. I have lupus and the weather affects me for that and now to know it is not , pardon the pun, all “in my head” that the weather also affects my migraines! Indeed, we are not alone!

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