The polar vortex weather phenomenon that has been wreaking havoc in many parts of the United States with frigid winter conditions may have also played a part in causing many workers to call in sick due to severe headache episodes.
Most people who live with migraine conditions know about their migraine triggers. These are factors of life that may activate headache episodes by inducing a fluctuation that results in stress, although many times the stress is imperceptible. For example, scent triggers can come from aromas that may actually be considered pleasant to migraine patients and yet cause them to go through a headache episode.
Food, scent, and light triggers are among the most commonly discussed by migraine patients since they can actually be managed to a great extent. Weather also happens to be a migraine trigger, but not all meteorological events are to blame; in fact, most patients who suffer from migraine conditions are not aware of the type of weather changes that can trigger headache episodes.
How Weather Changes Trigger Migraines
For many migraine patients, living a balanced life is essential for the purpose of keeping headache episodes at bay. The introduction of triggers upsets this balance by creating fluctuations, which are at the heart of the relationship between weather changes and migraines.
A research study conducted by neurologists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York determined that a little over half of all migraine patients in their study were sensitive to changes in the weather, and the majority were affected by sudden changes in the relative humidity and temperature. In general, migraines are believed to be triggered whenever the barometer records drop in atmospheric pressure. For this reason, migraine patients who live in the tropics are more likely to feel a headache episode building up whenever a sunny day turns into a rainy afternoon.
All living beings are affected by changes in atmospheric pressure, and migraine patients are certainly more sensitive in this regard. Many people who think nasal sinus infections and inflammations trigger migraine episodes in the winter are not aware that barometric pressure could actually be to blame since they affect the nervus trigeminus, which is the main facial nerve that provides sensory input and coordinates the mastication process.
More than Just the Weather
Medical researchers cannot explain with absolute certainty how weather conditions trigger migraine episodes, but they believe that the triggers extend beyond meteorological changes. Shifts in the weather can significantly affect environmental conditions for migraine patients; for example, the seasonal change to spring brings lots of sunshine and pollen, which for many people means having to deal two known migraine triggers: Bright lights and allergies. Seasonal changes also tend to modify patterns of nutrition and sleep.
Migraine patients cannot change the weather, but they can certainly write down their observations on how atmospheric changes affect their health. These observations should be shared with their physicians for the purpose of being adequately prepared when seasons change.
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