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Does Change In Barometric Pressure Cause Migraines

What Is A Migraine Aura

Migraines with weather change | Why do I get migraines when the weather changes?

A migraine aura is a sensory warning that tells some patients that a migraine is on the way. Auras can present as zig-zagging lines or blind spots in your vision, seeing flashing or sparkling lights, difficulty speaking, stiffness, pins and needles in legs and arms, and confusion.

Although auras are weird and unpleasant, they are early detection systems that let you know a migraine is imminent. Some people can head off migraines by taking action after they sense the aura but before the pain erupts.

Most migraines, however, appear unannounced because auras dont accompany 70%-90% of migraines.

What Is High / Low / Normal Barometric Pressure

This study from 2011 found that The frequency of migraine increased when the difference in barometric pressure from the day the headache occurred to the day after was lower by more than 5 hPa, and decreased when the difference in barometric pressure from the day the headache occurred to 2 days later was higher by more than 5 hPa.

So its not so much the increase as it is the decrease in barometric pressure that does us wrong.

Symptoms Of Barometric Pressure Migraines

Apart from the debilitating and severe pain, symptoms of a barometric migraine include:

  • nausea and stomach pains, which are sometimes accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea
  • pain around one or both temples, which can also affect the eyes, ears, forehead or back of the head
  • feelings of depression and changes in perception of things
  • increased sensitivity to light or the development of an aura, which may last for several hours
  • numbness and tingling in the face, head and neck, which can also spread to the arms and legs
  • waves of pain that throb in time with the patients heartbeat

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Are You A Human Barometer Research Studies And Responses From Real People In The Community Show That Storms Frequently Trigger Migraine Attacks

Those of us with Migraine have many unique superpowers – including the ability to predict storms. A thunderstorm brings with it a bunch of weather changes – shifting barometric pressure, wind, humidity, lightning, and thunder. A “human barometer” feels these atmospheric changes inside his head, and the community says storms are a pretty common Migraine trigger.

Like most Migraine triggers, it is not completely understood why Migraine triggered by weather is so common. The link between thunderstorms and Migraine is well-known among the millions who experience it, and research confirms that up to half of us with Migraine can point to storms as a clear trigger

A 2013 study even found a link between lightning and attacks: people with Migraine were 28% more likely to experience an attack on days when lightning struck within 25 miles of their home

Dr. Andrew Charles, Director of the Goldberg Migraine Program at UCLA and President-Elect of the American Headache Society, told Migraine Again, “Most weather-triggered attacks are likely caused by barometric pressure changes, although temperature or humidity changes could also be involved. The operative word is ‘change,’ in that it is during times of transition in weather that people seem to be at increased risk of an attack.”

Amazing Barometric Pressure Migraines And Headaches Remedy

Headache Due To Barometric Pressure Change

Barometric pressure headaches are a huge problem because they can be so unpredictable and strike at the worst times.

The graph below shows major triggers leading to migraines among U.S. patients as of 2016:

Changes in weather and barometric pressure are a huge problem and go together.

In this article we will understand what causes barometric pressure headaches and what we can do about it.

Read Also: How To Help A Migraine

Why Weather Conditions Cause Migraines

Several theories exist as to why drops in barometric pressure cause migraines, but the truth is theres no conclusive evidence to provide an accepted answer. When the barometric reading indicates low pressure, it means the weight of the air pressing inwards from the atmosphere is lighter than it could be. Our sinuses are filled with air, which creates outward pressure that is countered by the atmospheric pressure. If the inward pressure and the outward pressure are unevenly matched, the pressure inside the sinuses causes them to become distended, particularly in patients with congestion or a blocked nose.

In some instances, the change in pressure simply happens at the same time as other weather-related triggers, including:

  • Changes in the weather, which cause an imbalance in brain chemicals such as serotonin, a feel-good compound. This results in changes in the patients mental state, and can bring on a migraine.
  • Bright, sunny conditions, which can increase the amount of glare and activate a sensitivity to light that many migraineurs suffer with.
  • Hot, dry conditions that increase the risk of dehydration, which is a common migraine trigger.
  • Lightning during storms that gives off electromagnetic waves, and rain that can cause the emission of spores from plants and trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Pressure Changes And Migraine: How To Avoid Them

      Changing barometric pressure is a factor that impacts many migraine sufferers. For patients living in pressurized climates, its imperative to understand how pressure changes might affect you. Here’s some useful advice on how to avoid the effects of pressure changes, especially in locations where these are a regular occurrence.

      Also Check: Do Migraines Make You Tired

      Types Of Barometric Headaches

      Barometric pressure causes headaches in non-migraine sufferers as well as migraine patients. These are typically experienced bilaterally, meaning on both sides of the head simultaneously. A barometric pressure migraine, however, is more frequently felt just on one side of the head, although both sides can be affected. A migraine triggered by barometric pressure changes usually lasts an average of 24 hours, although it can run up to 72 hours in some instances.

      Tips To Prevent Barometric Pressure Headaches

      Dr. David Cash : How to Avoid the Symptoms of Barometric Pressure

      The best way to prevent barometric pressure headaches is to be aware of your headache patterns. The sooner you recognize the headache coming on, the faster you can treat or prevent it.

      If your doctor has prescribed medication for your headaches, be sure to take it at the first sign of the headache to prevent a severe migraine. You may notice head pain or other symptoms, like ringing in your ears, aura, or nausea.

      Take care of your body in other ways, too. Try these:

      • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
      • Drink a minimum of eight glasses of water per day.
      • Exercise most days of the week.
      • Eat a balanced diet and avoid skipping meals.
      • Practice relaxation techniques if youre experiencing stress.

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      Many Migraine Sufferers Report Weather Changes As A Migraine Headache Trigger But Is There A Scientific Link

      Many migraine sufferers have a running list of things that could potentially spark a migraine headache, with weather changes serving as one of the most commonly reported migraine triggers. In fact, one survey1 found that 43 percent of migraine patients listed weather changes as a trigger, second only to stress .

      While some studies have noted an association between weather and migraine attacks, others have failed to show any link. For example, one recent study showed that, in a subset of patients, lower temperature and higher relative humidity correlated with the onset of a migraine. 2

      Similarly, another study found that weather change was associated with migraine headache development in 18 of 28 patients, 14 of whom reported low barometric pressure to be a cause of headache. 3 On the other hand, in a comprehensive diary study analyzing 20,553 patient days recorded by 238 patients with migraine, the researchers were unable to show any major connection between weather conditions and migraine occurrence. 4

      So what can we make of these inconclusive study findings? Does it mean that migraine suffers who believe weather may be causing their migraine attacks are mistaken? Not necessarily. Migraine triggers vary from person to person, and a single trigger wont necessarily cause a migraine every single time youre exposed to it.5 A combination of migraine triggers may be more likely to bring on an attack.6

      Thunderstorms As A Headache Trigger

      Besides simply weather changes, you may wonder whether a thunderstorm can trigger a headache or migraine. Indeed, many of us can recall plugging along at work or in our homes on a gloomy, damp day with a nagging headache. Was it triggered by that morning thunderstorm? Many of us claim it was, and some experts agree .

      During a storm, cold and warm air collide, creating an extreme difference in barometric pressure. This creates the elements of a thunderstorm, like wind and rain. The change in barometric pressure may be what triggers your headache, whether that is a migraine, tension-type headache, or a;sinus headache. That said, the idea of a storm triggering a headache is still a questionable phenomenon.

      In addition, with a thunderstorm comes lightning. Sferics, which are electromagnetic impulses produced by lightning, may also trigger migraines .

      Read Also: How Common Are Visual Migraines

      What Is Barometric Pressure

      Barometric pressure is the force exerted on our bodies by the atmosphere and the air around us. Our body adjusts the pressure in our ear and sinus cavities to try to match the pressure inside our heads to the pressure outside our bodies. A sudden change in barometric pressure would cause a mismatch. While we wait for our body to adjust, the barometric pressure is different from the pressure in our sinuses and inner ears. This mismatch in pressure can trigger our pain pathways. Blood vessels in our head can widen and substances that trigger pain sensations can be released. In fact, in people who have migraines, sudden changes in barometric pressure can trigger the same mechanisms involved in having a migraine.

      Ways To Weather Barometric Pressure Migraines

      Headache due to barometric pressure change in 2020 (With ...

      When I was a child, I can remember my grandmother saying she knew when a storm was coming because her arthritis would always start hurting. Fast-forward 30 years, and here I am, a 40-year-old woman who can tell if a change in the weather is going to occur within 300 miles of wherever I am located.;I havent always been affected by barometric pressure changes. Growing up in the southeast of the United States, its common to have very crazy weather patterns. It hadnt been until my husband and I moved from Oregon to North Carolina that I noticed a major difference in my migraine attacks in correlation to drastic increases or decreases in the barometric pressure.

      Barometric pressure can be simply defined as the air pressure within the atmosphere. A sharp change in this pressure can exacerbate some conditions, with headaches or migraine;attacks being one of them. According to a;NY Times article, which interviewed Dr. Matthew Fink of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center:

      Differences in air pressure because of the weather or changes in altitude can have noticeable effects on the human body, though some people are more sensitive than others. Low barometric pressure can cause headaches by creating a pressure difference between the surrounding atmosphere and the sinuses, which are filled with air.

      1. Download a barometric pressure app on your phone.

      2. Try barometric pressure earplugs.

      3. Try to stay as hydrated as possible.

      4. Take your abortive meds.

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      Migraine Management About Reducing Triggers

      A Calgary doctor and migraine expert says while some evidence suggests chinooks contribute to migraines, the best way to manage the painful headaches involves reducing other triggers.

      “Most migraine attacks are triggered by more than one thing. Their triggers add up: whether it’s stress, an overbooked schedule, a chinook, a glass of wine,” Dr. Werner Becker told CBC News.

      Becker, a professor emeritus at the University of Calgary, said pain relievers like triptans should not be taken too often because they could increase the frequency of migraines.

      He says avoiding meals is a bad idea. Instead, he recommends people try to stay hydrated, get lots of sleep and avoid or reduce caffeine intake.

      Try not to overload your schedule, because too many commitments can increase stress, which can also be a trigger, he explained.

      Daily preventative medications could help people who experience four migraines a month or less, Becker said.

      But some Calgarians say it’s about trial and error to find what works best for them.

      “Extra strength Advil works for me, as long as I catch it in time,” Heather Laird said.;”Otherwise I just lay in a bedroom with the lights out.”

      How Can I Get Rid Of A Barometric Pressure Headache

      Soothing symptoms depends on each individual someone who drinks, say, barely a bottle of water a day will suffer more than someone who drinks 2L, for example but there are a few things Dr Chris recommends.

    • Pain relief. Popping standard over the counter paracetamol can do the trick. Be sure to stick to the recommended dosage. If this doesnt work, a registered GP may be able to prescribe you triptans a stronger form of painkiller to tide you over.
    • Stay hydrated. Down at least 2-3L of H2O per day to limit pain. If you dont get enough fluid, your brain temporarily contracts, which is where the aching comes from, but as soon as youre fully aboard the hydration station, your brain will return to its usual state.
    • Try not to miss meals. Your blood sugar levels plummet if you havent had any food for a while, which then causes your body to release the hormones that tell your body its hungry. These hormones increase your blood pressure and tighten your blood vessels, which materialises as a headache. Make sure youre fuelling up at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    • Stay active. Dr Chris tells us regular exercise can also help ease symptoms of a barometric pressure headache. The biology behind this one is simple: when you exercise, you release endorphins , which are also the bodys natural painkillers and therefore work to put paid to a sore head.
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      Why Barometric Pressure Changes Causes Headaches

      When the inward pressure and the outward pressure are not balanced the higher pressure inside the sinuses causes them to distend. This is especially true in people who suffer nasal congestion.

      Depending on how quickly the pressure change occurs and the intensity, the sinuses can be negatively impacted. This may cause persistent pain and headaches. This process commonly results in what is known as a low barometric pressure headache.

      On the other hand, increasing barometric pressure may cause dilation of blood vessels and abnormal flow of blood to the brain. This too, may increase the risk of high barometric pressure headaches. The sensitivity to pain and the severity of pain that people experience with changes in barometric pressure vary considerably between people.

      The most violent headaches tend to happen when you fly. Why? The very sudden barometric pressure changes that occur during take-off and landing affect the air in your sinuses.

      Therefore, you need to consider these when you fly:

      # Avoid flying if you have flu. Your nose might be stuffy, and the pain youll experience might be very severe. If you must fly make sure you take cold & flu relieving medication.

      # During the flight, use a nasal decongestant.

      # It also helps to use chewing gum. Chewing helps relieve the pressure from your sinuses and alleviates the headaches. It is a simple solution but works most times.

      What Are The Symptoms Of Barometric Pressure Headaches

      How can weather patterns trigger a headache?

      How the headaches feel:

      • Headaches can be one-sided but typically involve both sides of the head .
      • Pain is associated with a tight band of pressure that moves slowly around your head.
      • Commonly localized in the forehead and nasal bridge region, sometimes ppin is felt in the back and lower rear region of the head.

      Most common associated symptoms:

      • Mood changes

      Most severe associated symptoms:

      • Periodic, severe and debilitating headaches. Typically lasting 24 hrs, but that can last for up to 3 days.
      • Sharp, throbbing unilateral pain.
      • Intense pain around the temples is typical; may also affect the forehead, eyes, ears, or back of the head.
      • Altered perception.
      • Speech impairment.
      • Exaggerated sensitivity to sound, light or smell.
      • Waves of throbbing or pulsing pain that may be synchronized with the heartbeat. Pain is caused by stretching of blood vessels each time the heart pulses.
      • Nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
      • Stomach pain sometimes accompanied by diarrhea.
      • Alterations in mood or emotional upheavals, like depression or anxiety.
      • An aura is a set of symptoms that most notably includes a halo of light around objects. The aura may be accompanied by visual distortions, pressure waves, tingling and/or numbness in the face, head, or extremities. In some cases, it precedes a migraine attack. We can say that people who experience auras are like the proverbial canary in the coal mine: they sense the oncoming danger before it actually arrives.

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      What Kind Of Weather Causes Migraines

      When a migraine hits, the brain produces an oversized electrical response. Blood flow changes, and pain sensors fire up. Its not well-understood why this happens, but many people who suffer from migraines seem to be especially sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. These; barometric pressure changes occur when a high-pressure system shifts to a low-pressure system or vice versa. In the case of low pressure, some researchers believe that the brains of people with migraines are responding to the lowered pressure by becoming more active and expanding activity that leads to migraine.

      There are other types of weather that can trigger migraines, including:

      • Big temperature swings
      • High humidity
      • Dry air
      • Bright sunlight

      As you can see from the list above, migraines triggered by weather are often the result of extremes: too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry.

      Every person who suffers from migraines experiences them differently. You might notice that your migraines are triggered by other factors, including:

      • Stress
      • Lack of sleep
      • Fermented or pickled foods, or those with preservatives

      The best way to identify your triggers is to use a pain tracker . Pain trackers not only monitor the intensity and duration of migraine pain. They also note what foods you ate before the migraine hit, activity levels, and any other factors that might reveal a pattern or specific triggering event. Knowing your migraine triggers is one of the best ways to prevent migraines.


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