Many people are aware that their medical conditions can be aggravated by certain types of weather. If you suffer from arthritis, you may find that your joints ache more when the temperature drops and you may experience some much needed relief when spring arrives with its sunny skies and warmer temperatures. In the same way, it appears that headaches and weather may be associated with one another. If you suffer with headaches and find that your symptoms worsen when the temperature and humidity climb, it may not be your imagination.
According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, headaches and weather may be more closely associated than previously thought. After studying over seven thousand patients who came to an emergency room over a seven year period, researchers found that each five degree increase in temperature increased the risk of severe headache by 7.5 percent. Lower barometric pressure was also associated with a higher risk for non-migraine type headaches. Interestingly, several previous studies have shown that migraine headaches may be triggered by elevations in barometric pressure and temperature, suggesting that it may be the change in barometric pressure that’s responsible for inducing headache rather than the absolute barometric pressure.
Why might headaches and weather be related? Although it isn’t clear why changes in temperature and barometric pressure can trigger headache, there are several possibilities. It may be that changes in temperature and barometric pressure cause changes in oxygen levels in the atmosphere which may cause blood vessels in the head to dilate triggering symptoms of a headache. Another theory is that changes in temperature or barometric pressure may cause imbalances in neurotransmitter levels which could bring on the experience of a headache.
Even though there appears to be an association between headaches and weather, the effect doesn’t appear to be influenced by pollution. The researchers in this current study addressed this factor in their study and found no association.
Still not convinced that headaches and weather are associated? One way to find out is to keep a headache diary for several weeks. Keep a record of the temperature and barometric pressure each day and write down any headache symptoms that you experience on a daily basis. If your headaches are triggered by weather, you’ll start to see an association. This exercise may help you be more aware of when you’re at highest risk so you’ll be prepared when the headache hits.