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How The Weather Affects Headaches

Saturday, September 21, 2019


A fall in barometric pressure, which happens before a front or storm moves in, is such a strong predictor of a migraine attack in some people that they're referred to as migraine meteorologists. In one study nearly two-thirds of people with migraines had attacks when the barometric pressure dropped, possibly due to an effect on pressure-sensitive receptors in the brain. Both wind and sunlight (even brief 5- to 10-minute exposure to direct, bright sunlight) have been shown to trigger migraines as well.

Dehydration caused by high heat and humidity can be another trigger for migraines and headaches in general because dehydration may play a role in the overall inflammatory process, says Noah Rosen, M.D., director of the headache center at Northwell Neuroscience Institute in Great Neck, NY.


If you know a storm is on the way, taking a long-acting pain reliever like naproxen (Aleve) or prescription pain medication may help avoid a migraine. Because weather is only one trigger, limiting exposure to other triggers (caffeine, alcohol, the food additive MSG) can prevent or lessen an attack caused by a drop in barometric pressure. No matter what the season, wear sunglasses and stay hydrated. (Eating fruits and vegetables that are more than 90 percent water, like watermelon and cucumbers, can help.)

Weather changes can cause an imbalance in brain chemicals that can lead to a migraine.

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