Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Warm Weather Brought More Than Just Sunshine...

If you've ever had a barometric pressure headache, you know it can be really difficult to deal with. Let's take a quick look at the research that's out there on barometric pressure headache and see if we can limit your pain!

It's been fairly obvious throughout history that weather, and particularly changes in the weather, have an effect on your body. In spite of this long line of weather-sensitive individuals, scientists are still unsure why changes in weather cause headaches and other migraines. There is a theory, however. Changes in pressure cause changes in oxygen levels.

It could be that blood vessels in your head expand or contract to compensate. Changes in the size of your blood vessels is part of the flow of changes that happen when you get a migraine headache. This is also why you may get a headache when flying, hiking, or even travelling to a new location.

A study was done by a group of researchers led by Dr. Galina Mindlin of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia with migraineurs and "normal" individuals to compare their reactions to weather. The study found that migraines are indeed more likely when pressure rises, and somewhat more likely when the temperature rises. (Read more about the barometric pressure migraines study here)

Many researchers believe that it's not pressure alone, but a variety of weather factors together that trigger migraine. A study done in 1981 found that during phase 4 weather migraines increased – that's weather with low pressure, the passage of a warm front, high temperature and humidity, and often overcast skies. (Read this interesting article about health and weather) According to the American National Headache Foundation, weather changes may also cause chemical changes in the body, another factor that triggers migraine. Many believe that the electrical charge of the air may also have something to do with your headaches. now has an "aches and pains" forecast, basically based on dropping pressure, increased humidity and changes or extremes in temperature. Click here to see if a barometric pressure headache is on the way. Just enter your zip code or city.

What can I do about Barometric Pressure Headache?

Looking on the bright side, often barometric pressure headache sufferers at least have a little advance warning, especially if there is a predicted weather front moving in, or if you know you're about to go on a trip. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with the pain:

1.Keep track of the effects of weather on your headache

If you think pressure changes are a trigger for you, try keeping a diary of weather changes and headache pain. For this you'll want to get a decent barometer (preferably not the cheap ornamental one that you bought at the hardware store or department store). Ideally if you really want to investigate, consider investing in a digital barometer. These are not cheap, but they do tend to give you more accurate, exact readings.

2.Talk to your doctor about medications

Your doctor may suggest you take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen before you travel or when a headache begins to come on. At least one doctor I know of recommended doubling your normal migraine medication dosages when taking a trip. Obviously you'll want to discuss these options with your doctor. Take along your diary from #1 so that you can show him how your body is reacting to pressure changes.

3.Try an ionizer or humidifier, or get some fresh air

This will not directly solve the pressure problem, but it may help with some weather related headache. Some people find that a walk by a waterfall or river will help. If you don't have easy access or need to lie down indoors (as many with barometric pressure headache or migraine do), try going to a room with a humidifier or ionizer. (Obviously if you're in a humid climate you'll want to avoid adding more moisture to the air!)

4. Check out some of the other medications and remedies on this website and learn something new!

Barometric pressure headache may respond particularly well to certain medications or home remedies. Barometric pressure headache can be tough to handle. But don't give up! You are an individual, and you may have to keep trying until you find the treatment that helps you kill that barometric pressure headache...

No comments: