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Migraines Often Triggered By Change In the Weather

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

Migraine sufferers may be able to avoid triggering some of the excruciating attacks by skipping the red wine with dinner and forgoing the chocolate mousse for dessert, but there's little they can do about one of the most common Migraine triggers: the weather. Half of Migraine sufferers were sensitive to weather variables, but most were wrong in their prediction of which climate variable was the culprit, according to findings of a study presented at the 46th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society (AHS).

Marcelo E. Bigal, M.D., Ph.D., director of research at the New England Center for Headache, Stamford, Connecticut, and assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y., explained:

"Most people in the study thought they could predict which type of weather factor (temperature, snow, etc.) triggered their Migraines, but they really couldn't ...

Ironically, we found the one constant in weather-triggered Migraines was change. For instance, even though the heat, high humidity or a storm can cause the headaches in some people, it's usually the change in temperature, humidity or barometric pressure that brings Migraines on in most sufferers."

People who get weather-related headaches often blame them on sinus problems, when they likely are Migraines, he said.

Nearly 36 million Americans — 1 in 8 adults - suffer from Migraine disease.

In the study, 77 people diagnosed with Migraines were given a questionnaire asking if they thought weather triggered their Migraines and, if so, what type of weather they believed was the culprit. They kept daily headache journals for two months to two years, providing details about their Migraine attacks, including when the headaches started, how long they lasted, and their severity. At the same time, researchers collected weather data from the National Weather Service. The journals were compared to the weather patterns.

The researchers determined 39 people (51 percent) were sensitive to weather, but 48 (62 percent) thought they were sensitive to weather. Thus, more than 1 in 10 people in the study wrongly believed weather triggered their Migraines.

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