Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Day 365 - The Weather

“The weather has long been suspected of affecting people's health. Cold damp days can mean aching bones and joints for arthritis sufferers and a long hot spell can result in lost workdays for migraine sufferers. There is mounting evidence that certain health problems are aggravated or even brought on by the weather.

Some studies have suggested that migraine sufferers seem to be more susceptible to changes in the weather. Anything from temperature to humidity to barometric pressure can impact migraines. One of the theories suggested as to why weather impacts migraines is related to oxygen levels. Any changes in pressure affect oxygen levels and it is thought that this may be the mechanism by which headaches occur following certain weather patterns. Blood vessels in the head constrict and expand, leading to the throbbing head pain that is characteristic of a migraine.

The specific weather patterns that trigger migraines seem to yield mixed results. Some migraine sufferers find they react to changes in temperature while others find air pressure to strongly impact migraine frequency and severity. Many migraine sufferers also find humidity to be the deciding factor and still others experience headaches prompted by a combination of weather factors.

One study found that high heat and humidity combined with low pressure led to headaches. Intense cold is also a trigger for some migraine sufferers. There is also the suggestion that it is not so much the weather type itself but the change that accounts for headaches. This means that an abrupt change will trigger a migraine rather than a gradual seasonal change. A bright sunny day followed by a cold rainy one could thus prompt a migraine for some people. This is possibly due to an increased sensitivity in the brains of those who suffer from migraines.

The studies show that migraines are more prevalent in locations where warmer air is moving in. Chronic pain sufferers are most affected by changes in temperature, humidity, precipitation and sudden changes in the weather.”

Fast Facts

- Migraines tend to be more prevalent under two types of weather conditions: when the weather becomes more humid and cooler; and during long hot spells.

- Chronic pain sufferers are most affected by changes in temperature, humidity, precipitation and sudden changes in the weather.

- Arthritis acts up with strong atmospheric cooling and is influenced by dampness.
Depression is more prevalent in the warm sector of a weather system.


It is the headache’s first year anniversary today. What can I say? Who would have thought I would still have a headache a year later? Who would even think it possible? I dread to think how long it will go on for. Maybe it will never leave me. I guess the positive thing (if we can call it positive) is that I have learned to live with it - I am really trying not to make it affect my every day life, whether this be in terms of where I work or how long I go out for in the evenings with my friends. After all I am still very young and have a life to live.

I have been based in Russia for work for the past few weeks and the headache has certainly improved. The cold dry climate has helped - I haven’t had any severe attacks, and the headache has been stable at about 2/10 to 3/10 which is perfectly bearable. Obviously not normal but I can put up with it.

When walking around in extreme temperatures (-25C), the cold appears to block the headache, nearly freeze it, shall we say, rendering it numb. The cold air gives the impression it’s cleansing your lungs and even helping the blood circulate in your head. It’s so cold that you can’t feel the pain, until you walk into a building again and you realize the headache never really left you. The possibility of being able to temporarily numb the pain - albeit in extreme temperatures - has made me start to love the cold.

I certainly think the weather has played a part in my well being, although I also believe it’s thanks to the supplements the kinesiologist gave me and that I have now been taking for the past few months.

I returned to London a few days ago and the headache seems to have dropped down to a 4/10-5/10 which leads me to think that the weather has influenced the severity of my headache. Whether this is due to the difference in temperature itself or simply because of the dry air - or a combination of both -, I do not know. On the other hand, it may just be a pure coincidence as the headache has been at its best for the past couple of months, and I may just be having a little bit of a relapse...


  1. Ugh. Weather ALWAYS gets me if my head is compromised at all.

    But I have to tell you, from the last time I commented, cymbalta has really helped me for my daily pain. I still had a bad flare up on Christmas Eve but I think it was from stress, eating too many Christmas cookies, and going to a loud party. I ended up feeling like I was still run over on Christmas, but it wasn't too bad.

    The cold actually sometimes makes me feel better, mostly because I think my head reacts more to when I overheat, which kind of goes along with the carsick badness as well. Getting overheated in the car is pretty much instant horrible attack for me within 30 minutes.

    But yeah, I was a 4/5 out of 10 all the time before, but now I'm at a 1.5 average. Flareups aren't as bad and don't last as long either. And its mostly the face pain that comes through, not the constant temple pain, which I sometimes forget is there now.

    But whenever I see that a storm is coming on the forecast, I secretly get prepared to wake up in the middle of the night in horrible pain.

    If we existed way back in the stone age, we'd be useful in predicting weather patterns.

  2. It's all so random with me I just don't know what to think anymore! Am still in Europe and headache seems a bit better now although have had the occasional flare-up. It's all so random I can't tie it down to anything anymore.. but will see what happens when I get back to freezing temperatures...

    Completely agree re stone age - we would have been weather gurus!

  3. Your blog is amazing. It really document's what lengths people will go to search for help. I was desperate.

    I suffered for 4 years every day from migraine. I found taking amitriptyline and a beta blocker (atenolol) worked well together. The real stunner was that suddenly withdrawing the medication (December 32, 1991) had a long term effect. I went a year with no headaches. Then they returned. I took amitriptyline for a month and suddenly stopped. I went three years with no headache. Every few years I take amitriptyline (25mg/day) for a month to kick it.

    After 18 years of that working, I have some other headache problem that responds to antibiotics, but not amitriptyline.

    Recently, I came across a mention of high dose riboflavin (Vitamin B2) in the National Headache Foundation blog as an alternative treatment. I am trying it for my present non-migraine problem, but it isn't working.

    Here is a good review of it. Notice Canadian Family Physician says amitriptyline and beta blockers are the first choices of treatment.

    Are you familiar with the Migraine Trust and the National Headache Foundation?

  4. I thought I would pass on my experience in case it helps someone.

    I have had a 3 month headache with similar symptoms: seems like there are 2 headaches (a dull ache and sharp pains) one of which never leaves, alcohol numbs the pain, cold feels better, standing up feels better than laying down, and pressure. I have gotten alot of headaches and migraines since 8-9 years old(also on atenolol), but nothing like my 3 month headache. Last week my masseuse (whom I have been seeing monthly for the last year for all my other headaches and migraines)told me there was nothing more she could do for me, my muscles will no longer loosen. She suggested I see a chiropractor.

    Last week I went to see a chiropractor and this past weekend I was finally releived of this 3 month headache. FINALLY!!! My neck bends the wrong way and some vertebrae were sitting crooked. The sharp pains were the Trigeminal nerves in my face. I have to go twice a week for adjustments, but well worth the relief!

    Also, I will be undergoing surgery for a deviated septum and septal spurs. This may relieve some of my other headaches and migraines. Sluder's neuralgia is the name. There is quite a few testimonies of people that didn't have sinus problems (like me) but did have a deviated septum and spurs who after the surgery didn't have anymore migraines/headaches.

  5. It's nice to know that somebody else who shares the same fate that's been bestowed upon me.

    I've been having a constant daily headache for the last 5 years. It's been getting worse every day. I've tried every medication but nothing has worked.

    I have been recently tested positive for Antiphospholipid syndrome and am currently taking Warfarin. My doctor thinks my headache will subside in a few weeks.

  6. Have you had any luck with the pain subsiding, Chintan?

    rhfawn2, glad to hear you're better! I have also looked into possible trapped nerves, crooked vertebrae etc. but nothing...

  7. I've had a chronic daily headache for the past 6 years. It is unbearable in heat and humidity. It feels a lot better when I am in a cold indoor ice skating rink... The coldness freezes the headache away. Popsicles and frozen drinks help ease the pain for about 30 minutes as well. After trying most of the remedies you've explained on your blog, I'm going to get tested for mosquito-borne illnesses and parasites I might have contracted while studying abround in Fiji and Australia.