Weather and Migraines – Correlation or Causation?

Many migraine sufferers say that one of their migraine triggers is changes in the weather, in particular, changes in temperature, humidity and pressure. However, a study which was published in 2004 in ‘Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain’ found that the influence which the weather has upon migraine sufferers may not be as strong as some sufferers believe.

Weather and Migraines Correlation or causation

A sample of 77 migraine sufferers were assessed in a headache clinic. The patients were then given a questionnaire which assessed their beliefs about how strongly they felt the weather affected their head pain. As well as collecting data on the head pain which the sufferers had over a period of between 2 to 24 months, the researchers also collected data from the National Weather Service, from three weather stations which were central to the homes of the study participants.

Of the 77 participants in the study, 39 (or 50.6%) were found to be sensitive to weather, however, more participants thought that they were sensitive to weather than were clinically proven to be. While the researchers found that 39 participants were actually sensitive to weather changes, 48 participants believed that they were sensitive to weather changes. Of those 39 who were sensitive to the weather, 30 were sensitive to one weather factor, and the other 9 were sensitive to two weather factors.

The study confirms that some migraine sufferers suffer from the effects of weather changes, and some sufferers suffer from more than one effect. What is especially of interest is that more migraine sufferers thought that they were sensitive to the weather than really were. This leads to the question of what was the cause for those sufferers. One suggestion being that the stress of thinking that a migraine is coming (because you know that the weather is due to change) may be the real trigger.

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