The theory goes that headache pain would cause someone to seek a safer, more hospitable environment. The fact that changes in weather and extremes in heat and cold cause headache, some experts believe, gives credence to this theory.
They also said they'd stayed away from places likely to have smoke in the air, such as restaurants or bars. As noted earlier, there is a theory that headaches triggered by extreme weather are a protective, or defensive, response because they lead the person to seek a more hospitable environment.
Experts believe that people who get frequent headaches have a greater sensitivity to changes in the environment. The reason, they suspect, is that people who get migraine headaches have likely inherited this sensitivity.
The survey cited earlier also found that two out of three headache sufferers had not discussed environmental triggers with their doctors. Some people have clear signs that a migraine headache is coming.
Some experts believe that people link their headaches to weather more than is actually true. That opinion is based on a 2004 study that analyzed patients' perceived headache patterns with actual National Weather Service data.
Bright sunlight Extreme heat or cold Sun glare High humidity Dry air Windy or stormy weather Barometric pressure changes For some people, weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine.
Keeping a headache diary, listing each migraine, when it happened, how long it lasted and what could have caused it. Monitoring weather changes and avoiding triggers if at all possible.
Cutter FM, et al. Pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and diagnosis of migraine in adults. Examination of fluctuations in atmospheric pressure related to migraine.
Specific foods, hormonal changes, and stress are among the most often-cited migraine triggers. According to a 2015 analysis done in Taiwan, up to half of people living with migraine say changes in the weather cause their headaches.
Storms, temperature extremes, and changes in barometric pressure might all contribute to these headaches by altering levels of serotonin and other brain chemicals. The research on the connection between migraine and weather changes has been mixed, in part because it has been difficult to study.
People have varying reactions to weather changes, so it’s hard for researchers to narrow down one cause. Heat triggers headaches in some people, while others get a migraine when the temperature drops.
In general, higher temperatures and humidity seem to set off migraine headaches. Another study showed an increase in emergency room admissions on hot, dry days.
One possible reason for the increase in headaches during hot weather could be dehydration, which is a recognized migraine trigger. Another theory is that ultraviolet radiation from the sun leads to the release of chemicals in the skin that widens blood vessels, which can cause a migraine.
A small study from Japan found an increase in migraine attacks when the barometric pressure dropped even slightly. The authors say a drop in barometric pressure causes blood vessels in the brain to widen, which triggers the release of serotonin.
As serotonin levels rise, they set off the visual phenomenon known as aura. When serotonin levels drop again, the blood vessels swell and trigger a migraine.
Over time, you’ll be able to see which weather patterns tend to set off your headaches. One being that it usually means a complete wardrobe shift (like last week, when it switched from heatwave to thunderstorms in the blink of an eye, and we all had to ditch our sandals immediately ), but it can also have repercussions for your health.
Gloomy, gray skies, high humidity, quickly rising temperatures and storms are all climate conditions that are known to bring on headaches. “You may also feel generally lethargic, tired and unmotivated, which is likely to further promote headaches, a foggy mind and dull head and ear pain,” says the medical expert.
Frustratingly, seeing as Mother Nature is in charge of the weather and not little old you, there's not a lot you can do about the cause. Pharmacist Harvinder recommends drinking plenty of water when the weather starts to change, to keep hydration levels up.
“General exercise should help to subside any pain and pressure, and migraine medication is also an option if you find yourself experiencing these headaches more frequently,” says Harvinder, who also advises visiting your GP if you're experiencing constant and severe headaches that are interfering with your daily life. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.
Surprisingly, some scientific studies have been unable to show a clear link between weather patterns and migraine. For example, a study from Vienna, Austria, that included 238 patients found that, “The influence of weather factors on migraine and headache is small and questionable.” Other studies have shown, however, that weather changes can be an attack trigger for some people with migraine.
It can be difficult to prove scientifically that a particular weather pattern tends to trigger migraine attacks. The weather change may only cause a migraine attack if it is able to add together with another trigger, like a meal containing monosodium glutamate or a glass of red wine.
Also, the weather change may only be able to trigger an attack if the person is already migraine-prone because of fatigue, stress, or lack of sleep. Therefore, it may be hard to clearly see a relationship between a certain weather pattern and the onset of migraine attacks.
A smaller proportion of these patients with migraine, about 10%, felt that weather patterns triggered at least two-thirds of their attacks. Chariot H, Anchor J, Michel P, Loire JE and Henry P. Precipitating factors of headache.
Every person with migraine likely has a unique set of triggers which may include stress, certain foods, alcohol, and other factors. An American study found that some people with migraine appear to be sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity.
Another American study found that higher temperatures increased the number of patients with migraine who went to the emergency department with headache. One study looked at whether falling barometric pressure seemed to trigger headaches during a time when a typhoon hit Japan.
In a study that involved the Chinook winds, a powerful weather system in western Canada, it was found that some with migraine were sensitive to the day before the Chinook wind started at a time when barometric pressure was falling. So, even though both groups were Chinook sensitive, there seemed to be two different ways in which this weather system could trigger migraines.
In conclusion, many weather patterns have been found in different research studies to increase the chances of having a migraine attack in some people, but not in others. 2015: 4; 790 Yang AC, J-L Fun, NE Huang, B-C Shia, S-J Wang.
Patients with migraine are right about the perception of temperature as a trigger: time series analysis of headache diary data. Prince PB, AM Rapport, F Shell, SJ Pepper, ME Bi gal.
Importantly, manage your schedule during times when the weather may be a problem for you so that you don’t get too fatigued or too stressed. If frequent migraine attacks, weather -related or otherwise, are a problem for you, then see your doctor and ask if one of the daily preventive medications (beta-blockers, amitriptyline, topiramate, and others) might be helpful for you.
If a particularly powerful weather system that you know you are sensitive to is moving in, you could try taking an NSAID like naproxen which has a long duration of action preventatively for a day to see if this will help.