Migraines and Weather

A multitude of triggers can set off an attack in migraine patients. Examples of such triggers include foods such as wine, chocolate and caffeine, stress or the sudden lack of it, ie ‘let down’ stress, changes in sleep patterns, and hormonal fluctuations at various times in a women’s life. A number of migraine patients will also report that weather change can be causative.

Migraineurs who are influenced by the weather can be sensitive to temperature and humidity. Many migraine patients will also state that changes in barometric pressure will trigger their migraines.

Humans can be exposed to low atmospheric pressure during air travel, and some migraine patients, in particular cluster migraine patients do relate this as a trigger for their events. It is true though that flying is associated with several other potential triggers (eg poor air circulation, uncomfortable positions, poor food, alcohol, change in time zones and insufficient sleep).

A small sample of 7 patients who stated that they suffered weather related migraine exacerbations were recently asked to participate in an experiment.

They were instructed to follow weather forecasts, and if a low pressure system was predicted, they were asked to start a long acting headache medication either the evening or morning before the forecasted pressure drop.

Though it was a very small sample, 83% of the patients had a positive response to the therapy and this suggests that migraine medications, taken in preparation for a low pressure weather event, may be a worthwhile treatment strategy in susceptible patients.

 Note: Information on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

References:

 Does Low Atmospheric Pressure Independently Trigger Migraine? Bolay; Rapoport, Headache 2011; 51:1426-143
The Effect of Weather on Headache Prince et al, Headache 2004;44:596-602
Long Acting Triptans and Weather Related Migraines, Jacobs, Headache 2014