Can Changing Weather Trigger Migraines? Ways To Prevent It


Whenever the weather changes, some people experience health problems like cold and cough. But does changing weather also impact migraines?

While most of us experience a headache once in a while and are aware of the ways to deal with it, a migraine is much more than a headache. And although migraines are a relatively common condition, this neurological disease can be completely debilitating. They’re known as one of the main causes of disability worldwide, with patients reporting severe impairment in activity, the need for bed rest, and reduced work or school productivity due to migraines.

A migraine is a lot more than just a ‘splitting’ headache. It is a particular kind of headache in which one side of the head is more painful than the other with its intensity varying from moderate to severe. Symptoms often include nausea, and light or sound sensitivity that can last for a few hours to even days. Besides, it can be accompanied by dizziness, neck pain, and difficulty concentrating among others.

Weather And Migraine Is There A Link?

Research suggests that while some people are genetically predisposed to migraines, triggers are known to exacerbate attacks. And what’s more exercise and movement can actually make them worse.

The answer is while different factors cause different headaches, the weather does have an impact. Most often it is not just the change in temperatures such as heat or cold, rather it is related to the changes in weather patterns. For example, the change in barometric pressure and humidity can act as a migraine trigger. Studies estimate that weather pattern changes are a trigger in over a third of people with migraines. Further, a change in pressure systems such as rainstorms or high humid conditions as well as changes in temperature can increase the chances of a headache.

The migraine brain is sensitive to all different kinds of changes and usually, the effect is an exacerbation of migraine. People with migraines are often sensitive to bright light, including sunlight. Also, weather changes may affect serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn triggers attacks.

While the role of weather as a trigger for migraine is not completely understood, it is suggested that changes in barometric pressure may cause over-excitement in areas of the brain responsible for pain. Also, changes in pressure within the sinuses and inner ears as a result of atmospheric pressure changes may lead to pain. Unfortunately, weather changes seldom happen in isolation, they can work with other factors to cause pain. The brain may be more susceptible to having a migraine attack in the presence of another trigger such as inadequate sleep, stress, or hormone fluctuations. This may explain why some people experience migraine attacks with changes in weather and others do not.

Ways To Prevent Migraines

There is medical management for migraine and you can also do lifestyle modification to prevent attacks and manage your symptoms. Other ways to figure out your triggers include:

  • Maintain a diary of what triggers your attack and over time you will be able to zero down on which weather patterns tend to cause your headaches
  • It helps to keep track of weather changes and avoid triggers if possible. For instance, if cold, windy weather tends to trigger your attack, try to stay indoors.
  • Take your medicine the minute you see the first sign of a migraine

Go for healthy lifestyle choices including a healthy diet, regular exercise, staying hydrated, and managing your stress levels may help to lower the number of migraine attacks.

(The article is contributed by Dr Neha Kapoor, Sr. Consultant Neurology, Asian Hospital Faridabad)

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