If a storm in the forecast fills you with fear of a migraine, you’re not alone.
Research about weather as a migraine trigger is not definitive. But many people report feeling a strong connection between what’s happening outside and what’s going on inside their heads. Along with stress, certain foods and other triggers, weather can set off migraines, says Stewart Tepper, MD, who treats these powerful headaches at Cleveland Clinic.
Patients who feel a connection between storms and migraines may be responding to changes in barometric pressure, Dr. Tepper says. Pressure changes when a storm or shifting weather front moves into your area.
Other “extremes” may play a part, too. When the storms of spring give way to the dog days of summer — with hot temperatures and high humidity — many people continue to have headaches. If you suspect the weather is behind your pain and other symptoms, keep a headache diary to discuss with your doctor. And don’t just assume it’s a sinus problem, as many people do.
“You try to cross-reference your diary with the weather,” Dr. Tepper says. “Most people who have weather triggers, they know it. They know they’re going to get a headache. The issue has not been whether they know it or not, but whether they get the diagnosis right. And they may mistakenly think they have a sinus problem when, in fact, it’s a migraine.”
You can’t control the weather, but you can take steps to minimize your risk — or treat a migraine if it occurs: