How to handle
the dreaded barometric pressure headache!
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. (Allan S. Nursall and David W. Phillips - Environment Canada)
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.
Intellicast actually has an "aches and pains" forecast for the United States and parts of Canada. You can check it out here: Aches & Pains
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.
New! I searched high and low for a barometer that would help me connect weather changes with headaches. Click below to see what I finally found...The Digital "Migraine" Barometer
Eric from New Mexico, USA writes:
2.Talk to your doctor about medications
In short, thanks!
Your little barometer has changed everything for me. I have known for some time that pressure was a trigger for some of my most severe headaches. This little tool has helped me understand that almost *all* of my headaches are weather related. For me it is rapidly falling pressure that does it...
After 30-some years of suffering, this is a rather huge revelation. I have set the barometer to alert me of sharp pressure drops... now I'm training myself to medicate based on the alarm... the difference is *enormous*.
I will be ordering another barometer soon so I can keep on in my
office *and* my bedroom...My hope is that if I can catch the pressure change (and have the barometer literally *wake me up* to take medication) I can avoid the headache all together.
It's amazing what a little understanding (and technology) can do...
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...