Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is Weather a Migraine Trigger?


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A new study finds no evidence that weather changes are a migraine trigger. Unfortunately the study doesn't seem to have been designed in a way that understands how migraine triggers affect the body.

Study Downplays Weather as a Migraine Trigger

For this study researchers asked migraine patients to keep a daily diary for three months tracking their attacks and symptoms. They were also asked to answer specific questions about possible triggers, including items related to weather. The researchers used weather data from a meteorological institute to compare their data to that provided by study participants.

Researchers said weather factors were of very little significance in determining migraine occurrence. They also said the patients' perceptions of weather patterns on a given day weren't always accurate.


The finding of this study doesn't actually tell us much about how weather affects migraine patients. First, migraine triggers can take varying lengths of time before an attack actually results from them. Some patients find that a weather-related migraine sets in before a change actually occurs or in the days after a change. It is not at all uncommon for there to be no reaction on the day of a weather change. 

Furthermore, as we've learned more about triggers it has become clear that triggers are stackable or cumulative. On a given day a change in barometric pressure might not trigger a migraine in a certain patient. But if that person has been exposed to a trigger food, a great deal of stress, a weather trigger, etc., he is more likely to experience a migraine attack than if only one of these factors was present.

The lead author does make a good point that people may be more likely to remember the existence of bad weather on migraine days than on non-migraine days. But if researchers were looking for evidence that weather is a slam dunk migraine trigger, it is no surprise they didn't find it. In reality triggers are much more nuanced, personal and unpredictable.


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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.