Do weather changes trigger migraine headaches?
Many people with migraine think they do. Surprisingly, some scientific studies have been unable to show a clear link between weather patterns and migraine.
For example, a study from Vienna, Austria, that included 238 patients found that, “The influence of weather factors on migraine and headache is small and questionable.” Other studies have shown, however, that weather changes can be an attack trigger for some people with migraine.
It can be difficult to prove scientifically that a particular weather pattern tends to trigger migraine attacks. A migraine trigger is a factor that temporarily increases the chances that a person with migraine will experience a migraine attack. Any single person may have a number of migraine triggers, so even if weather changes are one of them, many of that person’s migraine attacks may be caused by other triggers.
In addition, often a single trigger—like a specific weather change—may not be able to start a migraine attack by itself unless the weather change is very dramatic. The weather change may only “cause” a migraine attack if it is able to add together with another trigger, like a meal containing monosodium glutamate or a glass of red wine. Also, the weather change may only be able to trigger an attack if the person is already migraine-prone because of fatigue, stress, or lack of sleep. Therefore, it may be hard to clearly see a relationship between a certain weather pattern and the onset of migraine attacks.
Finally, not all people with migraine are weather sensitive. Among those that are, some may be sensitive to one weather pattern and others may be sensitive to another one. Additionally, there may be a time delay of a number of hours before the migraine attack follows the trigger.
Even if scientists have a hard time providing proof, however, no one knows your migraines as well as you do, and if you feel you are a “human barometer” you may be right!