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The Link Between Weather Changes and Migraines

Nov 01, 2022

Migraine is one of the most disabling medical illnesses, but a lot about the condition is either not well understood or misunderstood. They have symptoms similar to headaches, but a person with migraine deals with a series of phases of attack that, if chronic, can recur right after one is done. Caused by various triggers, over 37 million people deal with migraine in the US.

Changes in the weather are a lesser-known trigger for migraines, and understanding the link may help to anticipate an attack and treat the symptoms. To better understand this connection, let’s look at how migraines work, examples of common triggers, and the ways weather can affect migraines.

If you are dealing with the effects of a migraine attack, Drs. Adam ShestackCy BlancoJoshua Powers, and the skilled medical team at Florida Pain Management Institute can help. 

Understanding migraines

Unlike the occasional headache, migraine is an ongoing neurological condition that can show symptoms days before an actual attack. This is because migraine attacks happen in phases, and while you may not experience all of them, the start of an attack may begin with no pain but still have other symptoms. The four phases of migraine are: 

  • Prodrome

This pre-pain phase can present symptoms like food cravings, hyperactivity, irritability, lack of concentration, light or sound sensitivity, and yawning. 

  • Aura

This phase only happens in about a third of migraine attacks but can have symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the face or limbs, changes in speech, or seeing flashing lights.

  • Attack (or headache)

The pain phase can last for a few hours or days, and you may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, mood swings, and pulsating pain.

  • Postdrome

This phase happens when the peak pain period is done and can last up to two days, causing fatigue, body aches, mental fogginess, dehydration, and euphoria.

Chronic migraines are categorized by having migraine attacks for more than 15 days out of the month for three months or more. The pulsating throbbing pain associated with the pain phase of migraine is bad enough for many people that it interferes with social life, work, and other forms of activity. 

Common triggers of migraines

While the overall cause of migraine not understood, current speculation indicates possible abnormal brain activity that targets nerve signaling, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. Triggers common to migraine sufferers include bright lights, dehydration, hormone changes, stress, loud noises, sleep-pattern changes, smoking, alcohol use, unusual smells, and medications.

How weather affects migraines

This link relates to the changes in barometric pressure, temperature extremes, and humidity. A possible reason for the trigger is due to these events altering serotonin levels and other forms of brain chemistry. It also doesn’t affect everyone the same so other causes may be present. Specific weather changes that can trigger migraine include dry conditions, storms, dusty environments, wind, altitude changes, temperature changes, and even sunlight. 

Research continues on specific connections between migraine and weather changes, but we do know certain conditions trigger attacks. Whatever triggers your pain for migraine attacks, make an appointment today with Drs. Shestack, Blanco,and Powers at one of our Florida Pain Management Institute offices in Delray Beach or Boynton Beach, Florida, to find a treatment and help you get relief.