New data reveals weather can trigger a migraine

07/15/04

Headache, a peer-reviewed journal published on behalf of the American Headache Society, features the most carefully done study on the influence of weather patterns on headache. The study, conducted over a two-year period by Dr. Prince and a number of headache specialists at The New England Center for Headache in Stamford, CT, concluded that 51% of patients with headache were affected by weather, although a higher percentage of patients thought they were. Patients were not always able to accurately pinpoint their trigger. It is known that various trigger factors, like wine, chocolate, caffeine, stress and changes in sleep, can set off a migraine attack in susceptible sufferers.

The study delved into the affects of weather patterns on headache as well as investigating whether or not patients could predict their own sensitivity to weather, and which weather patterns were most significant. The majority of headache sufferers in this study believed that certain weather patterns affected their headaches, while the weather triggers they reported did not correspond to the weather tracked in the analysis. Interestingly, of the migraine sufferers affected by weather, it was clear that they were sensitive to a combination of temperature and humidity changes. The most common factor affecting patients was low temperature and humidity or high temperature and humidity. The second was major changes in the weather over a 1-2 day period and the third was high or low barometer. Several patients were sensitive to more than one factor.

"Identifying trigger factors, such as weather, is important as it can lead to preventive strategies such as trigger avoidance or taking acute care medications very early in the attack or even in advance," states Prince. The study findings demonstrate that there is a relationship between weather and migraine, and provides another piece of information on migraine triggers. Based on the data, patients and their physicians can track weather patterns and personal sensitivity, which may help sufferers prevent the onset of a migraine in many situations.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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