Many people who get migraines experience worsening symptoms during extreme weather changes, hot or humid weather, or changes in barometric pressure.
By Dr. Hida Nierenburg, Director of Headache Medicine, Nuvance Health
If you are living with migraines, you have probably noticed that certain triggers bring on the debilitating headaches. Common triggers include dehydration, hunger, lack of sleep, certain beverages or foods, stress and even weather changes.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, over a third of people with migraine report that certain kinds of weather patterns sometimes trigger their migraines. In particular, people with episodic and chronic migraine consistently report worsening migraine symptoms with extreme weather changes, hot or humid weather and changes in barometric pressure.
However, researchers have been unable to find sufficient scientific evidence that identifies a clear correlation between migraine and weather. Despite this, many headache specialists recognize weather factors mentioned as potential migraine triggers.
Related article: Headache vs. Migraine: How to tell the difference
Researchers are studying the correlation between migraine and weather
Several studies attempting to find a scientific correlation between weather and migraines have yielded conflicting results. There are several challenges that may cause these contradictory results and affect researchers’ abilities to establish a correlation.
For example, many people with migraine have several triggers that could potentially affect them at the same time, so it is difficult for researchers to single out the weather as the single cause of someone’s migraine symptoms. In addition, the definition and description of weather changes can be different for each person, and some people may be more sensitive than others are to weather-related changes.
Do you suffer from migraines? Request an appointment with a neurologist at Nuvance Health.
Minimizing weather-related migraine symptoms
It is impossible to control the weather — making it one of the more challenging triggers to manage.
The first step to minimize these triggers is to pay attention to weather conditions that impact how you feel. Then, take steps to change how you react to the weather.
For example, if hot temperatures bring on migraine, stay in a cool place with air conditioning during hot days. If you must be outside in hot weather, wear a hat, sunglasses and loose-fitting clothing and find shade to stay as cool as possible.
While you may have less control over weather conditions, you can focus on managing other migraine triggers that may be easier to control, such as:
- Avoid food triggers. We need more research to determine how and why some foods may trigger migraine. At this time, researches think that chemicals in certain types of food, like chocolate and processed cheeses and meats, may trigger migraine.
- Eat regular meals. Hunger can trigger migraine. Consume regular meals and snacks in between rather than fasting for long periods.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults should aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
- Stay hydrated. Most adults should drink at least eight glasses of non-caffeinated fluids per day. Water is usually an ideal choice.
In addition to managing triggers, it is also essential to have a rescue medication readily available in case a migraine strikes. See a headache specialist to determine what type of rescue medication is right for you. It is also important to know which interventions will help reduce migraine symptoms, such as staying in a dark, quiet room.
Do you want to learn more about migraines, headaches and facial pain? Go here.
The bottom line: Although there is no clear scientific link between weather and migraine, some people with migraines report worsening symptoms in hot or humid weather and changes in barometric pressure. Managing the triggers you can control, tracking and preparing for the weather, and keeping a rescue medication on hand will give you the best possible chance of reducing migraine symptoms.
Dr. Hida Nierenburg is double-board certified in neurology and headache medicine. She completed her fellowship in headaches at Mount Sinai Roosevelt Headache Institute in New York City, and her residency in neurology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. Dr. Nierenburg is at the forefront of migraine treatment and can discuss advances with electroceuticals and infusion therapy. Book an appointment online with Dr. Nierenburg.
Headache support group
Headache support groupIf you get migraines or headaches, you are not alone! Millions of Americans suffer with headache disorders that affect their quality of life. Dr. Nierenburg is leading a support group for people with headache or migraine concerns. The support group meets remotely at 5:30 pm the last Monday of each month. To register, call 845-214-1922. There is no cost to register.