By: Annie Morgan
To those of us who suffer from migraine headaches – we know all too well how the pain can literally bring us to our knees.
But throw in a change in barometric pressure – and it’s like an icepick in our skull.
One might not think the weather can make a headache worse – but as it turns out changes in barometric pressure, however small they are, can trigger a massive headache.
As if normal headaches aren’t enough – the added drama from a pressure change causes even more suffering and pain.
Why Does This Happen?
Headaches can cause pressure not just in the skull – but in the sinus cavities too.
“When the outside barometric pressure lowers, it creates a difference between the pressure in the outside air and the air in your sinuses. That can result in pain. The same thing happens when you are on a plane. As the pressure changes with the altitude on takeoff, you might experience ear popping or pain from that change.”
So this change in pressure is affecting more than just your head – it’s causing your sinus cavities to feel congested and pressure, which then puts pressure on your temples and causes a chain reaction until your head is throbbing.
In addition, the National Institutes of Health did their own study on people with migraines and had them track their symptoms in a headache diary.
As it turns out, even the slightest change in pressure targeted a migraine.
“All of patients with migraine maintained a headache diary to record atmospheric pressures when they developed a migraine. The standard atmospheric pressure was defined as 1013 hPa, and with this value as the criterion, we investigated slight fluctuations in the atmospheric pressure when they developed a migraine. It was found that the atmospheric pressure when the patients developed a migraine was within 1003–1007 hPa in the approach of low atmospheric pressure and that the patients developed a migraine when the atmospheric pressure decreased by 6–10 hPa, slightly less than the standard atmospheric pressure.”
What It Does To The Body
Some people have been known to simply “feel” when a storm is coming. No, they aren’t psychic, it has to do with the fall in the barometric pressure.
To those who have chronic ailments like migraines (and even arthritis) – their body can sense a drop in the pressure.
In addition – temperature could also trigger a migraine in those who suffer (hence why when it’s hot many people get headaches).
Migraine Again reported:
“Dr. Cynthia Armand explains, “Our head is made up of pockets of air that we call sinuses. Usually, those pockets of air are at equilibrium with the atmospheric pressure. When there’s a change in that atmospheric pressure, it creates a change in what you’re experiencing in your head and what’s going on in the air around you. That shift is a Migraine trigger.”
The temperature changes that tend to come with changing barometric pressure are another Migraine trigger. “Any temperature change, warm from cold or cold to warm can bring on a migraine attack,” says Dr. Armand.”
To make things even worse – the pressure change amplifies migraines and makes them even more painful.
In addition to being sensitive to noise and light – migraine sufferers who develop a migraine due to the weather could also feel extreme pain in the temples, and even dizziness or nausea.
Think of it like a typical migraine – but with 10x as much pain.Ouch.
If you suffer from migraines – don’t wait until you have developed a full-blown migraine to take action.
To those with medication – whether over the counter Excedrin or prescribed migraine pills – make sure you have your pills with you when you leave the house at all time.
The last thing you want to do is develop a migraine and have no medication to stop the pain.
Ladies keep a stash in your purse and fellas you can buy a tiny pillbox that will fit in your pocket.
Also, dehydration can cause headaches and make them worse – so make sure you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day.
You also might want to consider carrying around peppermint oil to rub on your temples and breathe in if you start to get a headache – the cold and soothing oil can provide relief.
As a friendly reminder, make sure you are applying peppermint oil that has been properly mixed with a carrier oil such as jojoba before you touch your skin – never apply essential oils directly to your skin as they can cause severe burns.
And to find out if the weather is severely affecting your headaches, make sure to keep a health journal so you can document your symptoms.
If you are one of the ones who has always claimed the weather makes your headaches worse — turns out research backs you up!
Does a drop in the barometric pressure cause your migraines to get worse?
What are some proactive measures you take to help find relief from migraine headaches?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this article with your friends and family to let them know how a drop in the barometric pressure can actually worsen migraine headaches!