Weather Change Can Bring on Migraine
But Headache Sufferers Don't Know Which Changes Affect Them
June 10, 2004 -- Weather forecast: cloudy, with chance of
You won't likely see that forecast in your local weather
report. But a new study shows that changes in the weather mean migraine
headaches for some people. And it may affect half of all migraine
The report comes from Marcelo E. Bigal, MD, PhD, director of
research at the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, Conn., and
assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New
Bigal and colleagues had 77 migraine patients keep detailed
headache diaries for up to two years. Using National Weather Service data, they
checked on the kinds of weather linked to migraine attacks.
An impressive 51% of the patients had weather-related
migraines. However, 62% of the patients thought their headaches were linked to
the weather. And few of the patients predicted the kind of weather linked to
That's because it wasn't so much the weather itself as a change
in weather that brought on migraines.
"The one constant in weather-triggered migraines is
change," Bigal says in a news release. "We're realizing more and more
that change -- or fluctuation -- is a major factor in migraine triggers,
whether it's change in sleep patterns, estrogen levels, or weather."
Different kinds of weather change affected different
- 34% were sensitive to a change in temperature or humidity.
- 14% were sensitive to a changing weather pattern.
- 13% were sensitive to extremes of and/or a change in barometric
- 10% were sensitive to more than one type of weather change.
What's going on?
"The brains of migraine sufferers are extremely sensitive,
and stimulation that has no effect on most people can trigger migraines in
those prone to them," Bigal says.