Barometric Pressure and Headaches

Have you ever wondered if it is possible to predict a hurricane, a thunderstorm, or a blizzard without referring to a weather map? Nothing big: seeing the sky turn gray coupled with an increasing feeling of having been kicked in the head are signals that you are weather sensitive!

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Weather factor

The headache mentioned above occurs due to sudden changes in barometric pressure, as well as temperature, humidity. However, this appears to be controversial. It is not well known yet why some people begin to feel bad when weather changes and some do not. Statistically, weather is the second most common factor contributing to migraines and headaches after stress.

There are many ways weather can influence an individual’s well-being. Some begin to feel bad when air pressure drops and it begins to rain, while others tend to go down with migraine on a bright summer day, when air pressure rises. In most cases, weather-sensitive people experience such shifts every time a front passes and weather changes, for the better or for the worse.

Why does it happen?

As the heart pumps blood through our system, it creates pressure inside of it. Besides, there is intracranial pressure, which is created by the fluids and tissues filling it. Internal pressure is tightly related to barometric (air) pressure and pretty much depends on it. These two factors create a balance, and the human body strives to maintain it in different circumstances. Once air pressure falls or soars, so does blood pressure, and vessels begin to contract and expand respectively.

Also, air pressure changes may cause imbalance between barometric pressure and that of the air that fills sinuses – nasal cavities. Things get worse when these cavities are affected by inflammation and blocked by mucous (sinusitis).

Finally, air pressure changes may trigger pain in the joint muscles. It is common to people dealing with so-called temperomandibular joint disorders. Pain may irradiate to other parts of the head and cause headache.

It is just a trigger

As follows from the above and based on research, the so called barometric pressure headache occurs in people already dealing with certain health issues. Apart from problems mentioned above, it can be related to hypo- and hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, etc. Weather-related headache appears to be nothing less than a symptom, which can be triggered by other factors just as well, such as pollution, stress, noise, etc.

What can I do about it?

First, it is advisable to track your individual headache dynamics by keeping a record of headache attacks associated with weather conditions. You can do it by tracking signs of an imminent attack (depression, irritability, fatigue, etc.) and keeping an individual weather journal with data on air pressure, temperature, and humidity. Compare this data with your headache dynamics and see how your body responds to weather changes. This information can help you determine when to start taking medications and can be helpful in diagnosing some conditions. Do not miss a chance to discuss it with your healthcare provider.

References:

What causes headaches? – Scientificamerican.com

Nature of Headache – Onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Influence of barometric pressure in patients with migraine headache – Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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