The temperatures suddenly rise, and you have a migraine attack. Or, perhaps your migraines are tied to humidity levels or barometric pressure. These types of changes in the weather have long been cited as a driver of migraine attacks among some of the 35 million people in the United States who suffer from migraines.
At Spinal Diagnostics, our team specializes in helping people manage headaches, including migraines. While there’s still much that we don’t understand about this neurological disorder, we want to look at the connection between migraines and weather.
One of the challenging aspects of figuring out what drives migraines is that the triggers can vary considerably between one migraine sufferer to the next. For example, one person may experience a migraine attack after drinking red wine while another tends to have attacks during times of high stress.
What we do know is that some triggers are more common than others and changes in the weather are cited with some frequency.
There are several theories about why weather can influence migraine attacks. For example, when the temperatures begin to rise, or the sun is out, your brain produces more serotonin, and this change in brain chemicals may cause an attack.
As another example, let’s take a look at barometric pressure, which measures pressure of the air around you. When the barometric pressure falls, blood vessels and tissues in your brain can swell, worsening a headache.
Lastly, there’s some evidence that humidity can also play a role in migraines. One study found that “higher relative humidity was associated with higher odds of migraine headache onset in the warm season.”
Unfortunately, there are no definitive studies that directly connect weather and migraines, but we recognize that a connection exists.
You’ve likely heard that one of the most effective ways to control your migraines is to manage your triggers. Of course, this recommendation is easier for some triggers than others — you can avoid drinking wine, but there’s little you can do about the weather.
To help, our headache specialists sit down with you to better understand your triggers, and if we find that you may be weather-sensitive, we devise a plan that can help you avoid a migraine attack. For example, if you know that a sudden temperature change often triggers a migraine, we want you to pay close attention to the weather and be ready with medications that you can take at the first signs of an attack.
As well, if we’re experiencing weather changes that have the potential to trigger a migraine, we urge you to practice relaxation techniques and be extra vigilant about avoiding your other triggers.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can better manage weather-related migraine attacks, contact one of our locations in Tualatin or Newberg, Oregon, to set up an appointment.