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CINDY DAY: This weather can be pain

Migraines that are triggered by weather are understandably frustrating because, as much as we’d like to, we can’t change the weather.  However, we can learn which weather changes start a migraine and take steps to lessen their effects.
Migraines that are triggered by weather are understandably frustrating because, as much as we’d like to, we can’t change the weather. However, we can learn which weather changes start a migraine and take steps to lessen their effects. - 123RF Stock Photo

Yesterday, shortly after I posted my storm time line, a number of you mentioned you’ve been dealing with nagging headaches all day.  Stacey said she gets a migraine with each approaching storm.  I don’t – knock on wood – but I often hear from people who do. 

Blame it on the pressure!

Storms are low-pressure systems. For every area of high pressure there’s an area of low pressure.  As a storm system moves in, the air pressure begins to fall from its relatively high reading to a lower value.  The pressure applied on the body by the air is called barometric pressure.  Because our bodies’ sinuses are filled with air, changes in the pressure around us can cause headaches.  These are known as barometric pressure headaches.

The interesting thing about this is approximately half the people who suffer from barometric pressure headaches feel the pain when the pressure is falling, and the other half feel a headache coming on when the pressure rises. 

Two deepening areas of low pressure brought varying levels of discomfort to many Feb. 13!
Two deepening areas of low pressure brought varying levels of discomfort to many Feb. 13!

Fluctuating air pressure is just one weather trigger that can cause or worsen a headache brought on by other triggers.  Some people who have migraines appear to be more sensitive to changes in the weather.  Weather-related triggers include bright sun, extreme heat or cold, strong winds and very dry air. 

Migraines that are triggered by weather are understandably frustrating because, as much as we’d like to, we can’t change the weather.  However, we can learn which weather changes start a migraine and take steps to lessen their effects.

As you know, I’m a believer in diaries!  Try keeping a headache diary, listing each migraine, when it happened, how long it lasted and what could have caused it.  This can help you determine if you have specific weather triggers.

A few years ago, I came across an evolutionary theory on the role weather plays in causing discomfort.  It stated that getting a headache is a protective mechanism against adverse environmental stressors.  The theory implies that headache pain would cause someone to seek a safer, more hospitable environment.  The fact that changes in weather and extremes cause headaches, some experts believe, gives credence to this theory.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.


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