Ways To Ward Off Headaches
Weather is certainly not the only reason we get headaches. Stress, specific over-the-counter medicines like analgesics or pain killers, hormonal triggers and certain disorders related to sleep for example may also be causes, Dr. Kriegler says.
And while you cant control the weather, you can take steps to minimize the your risk, severity and treatment of a headache or migraine attack by following some best practices.
Which Weather Changes Trigger Migraine Headaches
The specific weather patterns or changes in weather that might trigger your migraine attacks depends on you. Every person with migraine likely has a unique set of triggers which may include stress, certain foods, alcohol, and other factors. In the same way, some people with migraine are likely sensitive to one weather factor, and others are sensitive to 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.
Barometric pressure may be another factor.;One study looked at whether falling barometric pressure seemed to trigger headaches during a time when a typhoon hit Japan. It found that 75% of people with migraine had migraine attacks associated with the drop in barometric pressure, while only 20% of people with tension-type headache experienced an attack.
The amount of sunshine may also be a factor.;In a study from Austria, sunshine on more than three hours a day increased the possibility of a migraine, and a Norwegian study found that migraines were more likely during the long summer days in the Arctic.
In conclusion, many different 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.; Just how these weather patterns cause this is not known.
Barometric Pressure And Headaches
Regarding barometric pressure, one study in Internal Medicine examined a small number of people with migraines living in Japan. The participants kept a headache diary for one year. Half of the participants reported low barometric pressure as a migraine trigger. Additionally, results revealed that half of the participants had more frequent headaches the day following a drop in barometric pressure.
On the other hand, another large study in Headache examined over 900 patients with migraines and did not find a link between migraine attacks and falls in barometric pressure.
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How Weather Changes Can Trigger Headaches And Migraines:
For some people, changes in barometric pressure aka the measurement of how much air is in the atmosphere and rising or cooling temperatures cause the temperature in the body to shift, triggering a migraine attack or headache, explains Sara Crystal, M.D., a neurologist and headache specialist at New York Headache Center and medical advisor for Cove.
According to one 2017 study, barometric pressure and weather changes can also predict the severity of a headache or migraine. For example, the study authors noted that a drop in barometric pressure led to reduced blood flow and muscle fatigue, which could play a part in the level of head pain a person experiences.
In another study published in the Journal of Headache Pain, researchers found that 52 percent of participants reported sensitivity to temperature. The study also found that those who reported temperature sensitivity were more likely to have an increase in migraines during the winter but any weather change can be a potential headache or migraine trigger.
In addition to extreme heat or cold or changes in atmospheric pressure, other culprits include high humidity, dry air, sun glare or bright sunlight, and windy or stormy weather, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Still, despite plenty of anecdotal support, more research is needed to confirm the connection. Although its common for people to report that extreme weather can trigger their migraines, there’s a lack of evidence to support this, says Dr. Crystal.
When To Expect A Barometric Pressure Migraine
Studies show that approximately 12 percent of the population suffers from migraine headaches, and weather conditions are one of the top three most common triggers. Patients with barometric sensitivity report that the pain often begins well ahead of the changing weather patterns. This means you could develop a headache when the weather seems perfect, and only discover the reason a day or two later when the clouds finally move in.
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Managing Migraines In General
Whatever your specific triggers, the following steps will help you manage your migraines.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Make sure you get enough sleep and try to fall asleep around the same time each night. Interruptions in your sleep schedulesuch as getting too much or too little sleepcan trigger migraines in some people.
Drink plenty of water. Eating regular meals and drinking enough water can help prevent migraines caused by a drop in blood sugar or dehydration. A common recommendation is to drink six or eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. However, some adults may need more, depending on how much they exercise, for example.
Be careful with coffee. Although caffeine can provide migraine relief , too much can cause migraines. Caffeine can be found in chocolate and cocoa; beverages such as coffee, tea and colas; and certain medications.
Limit alcohol. Blood flow to your brain increases when you drink alcohol. Red wine in particular triggers migraines in many people.
Watch what you eat. Many foods can trigger migraines. A few of the more common ones include peanuts, peanut butter, other nuts and seeds, chocolate, and foods containing tyramine, such as aged cheeses and cured meats.
Exercise regularly. Research has shown that regular, moderate aerobic exercise may reduce the severity, duration, and number of migraines in many people. Regular exercise also helps control stress, another migraine trigger.
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What Can We Do About Something That Is Not Controllable
Dr. Hoffman conducted a few studies about the influence of weather on migraine and he said that there is a subgroup of people living with migraine that do show correlations to weather changes .
The overall group did not show this, but it is difficult to get good data from large groups because of the variables, as people are more vulnerable at different times.
So, perhaps weather alone is not enough to trigger an attack but if you are vulnerable to more triggers on a given day it may be the one trigger that puts you over your threshold.
It could be food or bright light that causes premonitory symptoms so suddenly you eat something you are craving and then 12 hours later you get to the pain phase, and you make the connection that this food is the problem, when really the attack started before the craving for that food.;
Several triggers poor sleep, you skipped a meal or you are very stressed and suddenly, if you have two or three triggers then thats enough.
Trigger tolerance is important poor sleep may mean the weather will add to the accumulating triggers.
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What Other Factors Should I Consider
If picking up and moving to one of the best places to live with migraines would ease your pain, how do you choose where to go?
The weather is not the only thing to keep in mind. If you move somewhere and your weather-related migraine pain eases but is replaced by the stress and pain of trying to make a living where there are no jobs, that wont work long-term.
When you are moving, youll also need to think about other factors.
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.
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Migraine Treatment And Home Remedies
There’s no cure for migraine headaches. But many drugs can treat or even prevent them. Common migraine treatments include:
You may ease migraine symptoms by:
- Resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room
- Putting a cool compress or ice pack on your forehead
- Drinking plenty of liquids
Complementary and alternative treatments
Some people get relief with therapies they use in addition to or instead of traditional medical treatment. These are called complementary or alternative treatments. For migraine, they include:
- Biofeedback. This helps you take note of stressful situations that could trigger symptoms. If the headache begins slowly, biofeedback can stop the attack before it becomes full-blown.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy . A specialist can teach you how actions and thoughts affect how you sense pain.
- Supplements. Research has found that some vitamins, minerals, and herbs can prevent or treat migraines. These include riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and melatonin. Butterbur may head off migraines, but it can also affect your liver enzymes.
- Body work. Physical treatments like chiropractic, massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and craniosacral therapy might ease headache symptoms.
Talk to your doctor before trying any complementary or alternative treatments.
Test Your Powers On Migraine Weather Today
Before you get too bummed out about the weather you can’t control, consider this. It might just be a hidden superpower. In a way, those with Migraine are more in tune with their environment. Could this have actually been an evolutionary advantage?
While this is just a theory, I like the idea of being a human barometer. It makes me different, a little special, just in case the Weather Channel calls to offer me a job.
Track your Migraine attacks as you track the weather and see if it’s a trigger for you. If it is, start forecasting so you can adjust your exposure to triggers you can control.
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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 .
Nasty Weather Doesn’t Have To Mean A Nasty Migraine For Many Of Us An Approaching Storm Signals The Start Of A Series Of Weather Related Migraines
Dark clouds don’t just mean “take cover” to a person with Migraine. For many of us, an approaching storm signals the unavoidable beginning of another raging attack.My friend Nan used to say she was a human barometer – she could predict a storm before the weatherman. Can you sense migraine weather on the horizon?
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What Triggers Weather Related Attacks
According to the International Headache Society, there are seven triggers for weather-related migraines. These are:
Lets take a closer look at why these things can trigger migraines.
For one thing, high humidity and extremely dry conditions can bring about dehydration. Dehydration is one of the most common and preventable migraine triggers. Sun glare and bright lights often activate a condition called photophobia a painful sensitivity to light among migraineurs. It is not really understood why lightning and barometric pressure have such an intense effect on migraines.
Dr. Stephen Graff-Radford, DDS, the director of the program for a headache and orofacial pain at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, gives the following insight: barometric pressure changes may influence the pressure in the brain or the ability of the brain to block pain, but this remains unknown. He continues to state that what is known is overcast, rainy, and cloudy days do bring about more migraines than normal.
As far as lightning is concerned, researchers believe that migraines may occur due to the release of fungal spores or may be related to electromagnetic waves that are emitted from lightning.
How Weather Brings On A Migraine Headache
Research;shows that changes in weather patterns are tied to changes in barometric pressure and temperature, and in turn this can be associated with the onset of mild to severe headaches.
For some people, its a fall in barometric pressure, for others, it could be a quick rise in temperature. Either way when these pressure changes occur most commonly during a storm, a headache can be triggered, Dr. Kriegler says.
For what we consider to be the effect of weather on migraines, were most likely talking about how weather can contribute to the headache part of a migraine episode.
During a storm, cold and warm air mix to create variations in barometric pressure.;This also is how wind, rain and thunderstorms are created. Barometric pressure is also known as the atmospheric pressure being applied against a given area and in this case that area is you.
Because your nasal and sinus cavities are air channels any change in that pressure, especially a fall in barometric pressure, affects those areas. This forces fluid into tissues and can cause a disruption in fluid balance.
Some researchers also think the barometric change may affect the pressure on your brain and how the way your brain blocks or doesnt block pain.
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Do Weather Changes Trigger Migraine Headaches
Many people with migraine think they do. 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. A migraine trigger is a factor that temporarily increases the chances that a person with migraine will experience a migraine attack. Any single person may have a number of migraine triggers, so even if weather changes are one of them, many of that persons migraine attacks may be caused by other triggers.
In addition, often a single triggerlike a specific weather changemay not be able to start a migraine attack by itself unless the weather change is very dramatic.;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.
How To Handle A Barometric Migraine
It makes sense that your first step in managing this type of migraine is to know when the barometric pressure is changing, so investing in a small barometer for your home can help alert you ahead of time.;
Some other ways you can reduce the severity of a barometric headache are:
- Watch the weather: Its not enough to just look through the window. Youll need to follow the weather predictions in detail, particularly the next two to three days.
- Stay hydrated: Avoid the effects of increased humidity that typically accompany cloud build-up by keeping up your water consumption.
- Avoid glare: Staying indoors might not help you avoid changes in barometric pressure, but it will enable you to manage your exposure to glare, extreme temperatures and humidity. Investing in a good pair of tinted glasses also helps block sunlight outdoors and bright, fluorescent lights indoors.
- Watch Your Triggers: When you know;a low pressure period is coming, keep a close eye on any other of your particular triggers, such as foods and drinks that might affect your migraines. Its possible to get away with having these occasionally, but try to avoid combining them with a dip on the barometer.
Disclaimer: Migraine Relief Center does not endorse the quality or effectiveness of any apps mentioned this blog, only that they exist.;
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