Migraine Sufferers' Redemption: The Weather Does Cause Headaches

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 11, 2009 3:05 pm

headache.jpgDoctors have long known that food, alcohol, stress, and hormones can cause migraines. And now, research shows that weather can too.

For years weather-related headaches were considered “clinical folklore,” until Harvard researcher Kenneth Mukamal conducted a “large-scale” study and found that fluctuations in temperature can contribute to or even cause the pain.

The researchers examined the headache complaints of over 7,000 patients admitted to Boston area ERs from 2000 to 2007, and compared them to weather patterns. In particular, Mukamal, a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, used data from meteorological and pollutant monitors to see how the weather was three days before each patient’s visit.

The results confirmed every migraine patient’s intuition: Every time the temperature went up by 9 degrees Fahrenheit, a person’s risk for getting a headache increased by 7.5 percent the next day. And a drop in pressure triggered by incoming storms increased a person’s risk by 6 percent over the course of several days, possibly by causing sinus infections that lead to headaches. One Florida doctor even said hurricanes make a lot of people sick. (Though that’s hardly a surprise—the wind can stir up germs, too).

Given this new info, it’s worth asking: How will we ever survive climate change without having to carry an endless supply of Tylenol? Or, for that matter, how do people in Florida survive at all?

Related Content:
DISCOVER: The Ground Zero of Climate Change
DISCOVER: The Pain Is In The Brain
DISCOVER: Vital Signs

Image: flickr/ josepy

  • http://www.migrainesymptoms.net Emma Jones

    I must say great article and well thought of as some migraine articles are the same but this was a good solid read!

  • Pingback: It’s Raining Tadpoles? Fish, Frogs Shower Japanese Residents | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • http://www.migraine.com/ charlie

    Hello good post

  • Carole Heath

    I agree with this article regarding the weather and migraine attacks, when i go abroad i nearly always wear a hat and dark glasses(thr wrap around type which you can wear over your own glasses if you wish) as bright sun-light does give me migraine. I do suffer with this dilemma anyway and i have tried many medications to help my migraine. I also find if there is a storm brewing the migraine comes on quite often. Problem is us humans can’t really stop sun-light or storms you just have to protect yourself as best you can, as i said by wearing a hat and dark glasses in bright sun-light.

  • http://www.symptomsofamigraine.info john smith

    Apply a compress, hot or cold, to point on the head where pain is most severe. This is frequently on the temple where a large artery runs, or in front of the ear, another arterial locale.
    I hope this can help you to reduce the pain


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