Monday, August 13, 2007

relocate for better health

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A new Q&A on's Ask the Clinician feature sparked my curiosity about taking the major step of relocating to another part of the country (or even world) in an effort to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Suprisingly, a move may be worth considering if changes in barometric pressure are a trigger for you.

What Part of the Country is Best for Migraines/Pain?
If your wife has Migraines that are sensitive to barometric pressure changes, I might recommend the Las Vegas area as there is little rainfall. Same for many regions in the Southwest. Pain conditions also do somewhat better in this type of climate. I have patients who relocate to these areas in their worst seasonal Migraine/pain times.

A recent examination of the occurrence of migraines all across the country revealed the cities with the greatest number of factors that contribute to migraines.

Mind Over Migraine: Hot Spots
What defines a migraine “hot spot?”

The national analysis collected data from four main groups:

  • Migraine prescriptions per capita (Triptan) – such that the higher the number of Triptan prescriptions per capita, the more that area is a migraine “Hot Spot”
  • Prevalence of migraine-triggering lifestyle factors
    • Average hours worked per week
    • Amount of overtime worked
    • Domestic plane travel
    • Foreign plane travel
    • Number of days with trouble sleeping
    • Had sunburn in the last year
    • Frequency of vigorous exercise
  • Prevalence of migraine-triggering environmental factors
    • Unemployment rate
    • Violent crime rate
    • Property crime rate
    • Suicide rate
    • Divorce rate
    • Commute time
    • Number of sunny days per year
    • Rapidly changing weather
    • Average high temperature
  • Consumption of migraine-associated foods
    • Alcohol
    • Grapefruit juice
    • Cheese
    • Chocolate
    • Pickles
    • Sour cream
Obviously not all of these factors could possibly apply to every person living in a particular area, so the findings may be somewhat misleading. Most of us who have migraines on a regular basis are careful about avoiding trigger foods and reducing other risk factors within our control. However, other factors, such as weather, have the potential to affect everyone equally. Moving to a climate with different characteristics could make a dramatic improvement in migraine frequency.

This is an idea I've considered on and off for some time. I like the idea of moving to the Southwest because the drastic weather changes in Kansas just kill me. I also dream of moving to Hawaii. Not only would the weather suit me better, but the slower pace and laid-back lifestyle would be a great change for me. I know a lot of people think life moves at a slow pace in this part of the country, but I really don't find that to be the case at all. Certainly, there are less people. But there is still an intensity and urgencythat just doesn't suit my needs. And I think I can fairly say that considering that I'm a native and life-long resident of Kansas. I love my home, but in many ways it probably isn't the best situation for me.

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