Is the Weather Literally Giving You a Headache?

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What’s causing your headaches? Of the many studies aimed at identifying headache triggers, sensitivity to these weather conditions nearly always makes the list:

  • Humidity
  • Barometric pressure
  • Intense sunlight or glare
  • Strong wind
  • One or more of the above combined with other factors like stress or fatigue

What’s Barometric Pressure?

Barometric pressure is the weight of the air. It falls in humid conditions when the air is moist, and when you increase altitude (like driving or hiking up a mountain). It rises when the weather is clear and dry.

Some scientists believe that when the barometric pressure changes, it can cause pressure between your sinuses, which results in a chemical imbalance and a headache.

Even if the weather isn’t the cause of your headache, a change in the weather can make an existing headache worse.

Do Weather-Related Headaches Happen to Everyone?

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“No,” says Aaron Block, MD, with Franklin Family Practice. “What we think happens is there’s a genetic trait that some people get from their mother and father that increases their sensitivity to certain changes in the environment, including the weather. When these people are exposed to changes in the weather, it can trigger events that cause the neurons to depolarize and cause migraines or sinus-related allergy headaches.”  

And even if the weather isn’t the cause of your headache, a change in the weather can make an existing headache worse. 

Learn Your Headache Triggers

Figuring out what causes or worsens your headaches is the first step in finding an effective treatment.  

Dr. Block recommends tracking your headaches on a calendar. “Write down what kind of headache you have, where it is located in your head, and what went on during that day,” he says. “Did you have something to eat that was out of the ordinary? Was the weather pattern changing? Did the temperature fluctuate? Or was the pressure changing?”

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to change the weather. But knowing what (or if) one or more weather conditions act as a trigger is valuable information. These clues will help your doctor determine the best treatment options for you.   

Small Steps: Learn Your Triggers.
Figure out what causes your headaches, and avoid common irritants like stress, sugar and lack of sleep.