WATCHING THE WEATHER
Watching the weather to prevent migraines
Research shows that a sudden change in temperature, either cold or heat, or changes in atmospheric pressure, like a thunderstorm, can trigger a migraine attack. This is true for about 20-40% of people with migraine following exposure to sudden weather changes, or if suddenly exposed to extremes of weather after being indoors.1,2
One possible explanation for this has to do with electricity. The electrical charges that accompany incoming weather fronts and storms may alter the release of chemicals in the brain.1 Rising atmospheric pressure and low relative humidity were associated with an increase in migraine attacks and migraine pain for some people.3 In one study, 43% of patients cited weather changes as a key factors in their migraines. 38% also reported that bright sunlight triggered their headaches.2
Find out whether it’s the weather
To determine if the weather is a factor, try keeping a log of migraine headaches and the accompanying conditions.
Record the weather for a few weeks or months (depending on the frequency of the headaches) remembering to take note of the temperature, the amount of time spent outdoors, whether there was bright sunlight or clouds and any sudden changes in the weather
Then, look for patterns in any of the recorded factors to find out what triggers the migraine symptoms. If it’s bright light, investing in a highly-tinted pair of sunglasses could help.4 If it’s sudden changes in temperature, try moving from one extreme to the other more gradually.
*THIS IS GENERAL INFOEMATION AND CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR OR PHYSIOTHERAPIST BEFORE STARTING ANY MEDICINE OR EXERCISE.
- Sulman FG. Migraine and headache due to weather and allied causes and its specific treatment. Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences, 1980; 31: 41-4. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6935858.
- Robbins L. Precipitating factors in migraine: a retrospective review of 494 patients. Headache, 1994; 34:214-216. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8014037.
- Gomersall JD, Stuart A. Variations in migraine attacks with changes in weather conditions. Int J Biometeorology, 1973; 3: 285-299.4. UK The Migraine Trust. Avoiding attacks. Available at http://www.migrainetrust.org/C2B/document_tree/ViewADocument.asp?ID=26&CatID=24. Accessed August 2010.