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Migraines and the Weather


For many people the weather can be a tricky migraine trigger

A wide range of factors – from food to hormonal changes can trigger migraines. One of the most interesting migraine triggers is the weather, which can produce sudden changes in your brain that produce severe migraines.

 

According to WebMD, weather is one of the most commonly reported triggers for migraine sufferers. Seventy-five percent of people that suffer from migraines report that weather changes often precede their migraines – a significant amount.

What weather conditions trigger migraines?

A variety of weather conditions can trigger migraines, ranging from changes in humidity to sudden increases or decreases in temperature.  Not all migraine sufferers respond the same way to weather changes – some aren’t affected at all.

Likewise, not all weather changes produce migraines at the same frequency. Changes in barometric pressure (air pressure) seem to be a major weather-related culprit. The National Headache Foundation recently found that barometric pressure changes were a migraine trigger for an astounding 73% of migraine sufferers.

Changes in barometric pressure can be brought on by storms. This is probably at least part of the reason why many people, like me, sometimes get migraines during bad lightning storms. Barometric pressure also changes when a hot or cold front moves through. Increased mold after storms presents another possible trigger.

Some people also experience a sort of heat intolerance and find that high summer temperatures can bring on migraine headaches.

Why does the weather trigger migraines? 

Experts aren’t sure why the weather can act as a trigger for migraines, although a variety of theories are currently being discussed. Evolutionary biologists believe that migraines could act as a psychological protection against harsh weather.

The theory states that a migraine could lead to someone finding shelter in a less stressful environment, potentially protecting them from severe – and potentially hazardous – weather conditions.

Researchers also believe that weather changes triggering migraines is simply a result of migraine sufferers having a significantly higher level of environmental sensitivity than their peers, resulting in an increased effect from the weather.

Dealing with migraines triggered by the weather

Migraines are extremely unpleasant experiences, and dealing with them is often an immense struggle. You can learn to avoid many of your migraine triggers, like certain foods, cigarette smoke, etc., but how can you avoid the weather?

You probably can’t. It’s important to recognize what weather conditions are triggers for you, though. This is best done by keeping a migraine diary. Write down the weather conditions (and ideally other potential triggers you encounter) on days when you have migraines. Patterns should emerge over time.

On days when the predicted weather conditions are likely to cause you problems you should work extra hard to avoid any other potential triggers since migraine triggers add up. Some people also find that taking a preventive over-the-counter pain killer such as ibuprofen to be helpful.

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