How Changes In Weather Can Cause Headaches

Headace, Health Topics

This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

There are times when you experience severe headaches out of nowhere. It is even more frustrating when you don’t know the cause. It becomes difficult for you to make plans when you don’t know when the next headache will strike. However, if you notice that your headaches occur when the weather changes, start paying interest. 

A migraine trigger is a temporary factor that increases the probability that a person with migraine will have an attack. You can have numerous migraine triggers, and in some, weather change may not necessarily be the cause.

Does change in weather cause headaches?

Yes, the change in weather can induce migraines, mainly due to the change in barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is the pressure in the atmosphere that applies to your body from the air. Since air fills the sinuses, therefore a change in that pressure may cause migraines.

Even though experts consider food as the primary trigger, weather as a trigger often goes unnoticed. Recent studies show that weather changes can trigger headaches in some people. It is difficult to point out precisely the type of weather pattern that activates migraine attacks. That is because different people complain about the weather causing their headache under other weather conditions. 

In a survey by the National Headache Foundation, some of the weather triggers are:

  • Change in temperature 
  • High humidity
  • Strong winds
  • Stormy weather
  • Arid weather condition

Many experts suggest that single triggers, like a mild weather change, may not be responsible for causing a headache. However, there is an exception if the weather change is very severe. Hence, headaches usually start when two or more triggers combine, as a change in weather and a glass of wine. Weather change can also be just a trigger if the person is already vulnerable to migraines. The reasons can be due to lack of sleep or stress. Hence, it becomes hard to point out precisely the effects of weather change on headaches.

How do you know if you are weather-sensitive?

Even if you may have a migraine, there is a chance that the weather might not affect you very much. However, some are weather-sensitive to specific weather patterns. Also, some migraine triggers may delay for a few hours before actually causing the headache. Hence, due to the difficulty of pinpointing the particular weather, it depends on you to find a pattern.

Few studies show that most people with migraines think that weather change triggers their headaches. But after a thorough investigation, they observed that they were wrong about it. However, in some people, weather change started the migraines, i.e., they were weather sensitive. And they also observed that the particular weather pattern which affected each of them varied from person to person.

Which type of weather changes affects most headaches?

The few headaches triggering weather patterns are as follows:

1. Temperature and humidity:

One American research observed that individuals with migraines showed sensitivity to change in temperature and humidity. Another study showed that when the weather temperature increased, the number of patients with headaches also increased accordingly. They studied this by counting the number of patients with migraines who went to the emergency room with headaches.

2. Barometric pressure:

A study checked the effects of falling barometric pressure focusing on the time when a typhoon hit Japan. It showed that with the fall in barometric pressure, 75% of people having migraines had headaches. In comparison, only 20% of people having headaches due to tension suffered an attack.

3. Sunshine hours:

The number of sunshine hours may also trigger headaches. A study in Austria showed that migraine attacks increased when the sun shines for more than three hours per day. Also, one Norwegian research observed more migraine attacks in the Arctic during the long summer days.

4. Strong winds:

Strong winds tend to trigger headaches by stimulating areas of the head. As the wind blows in your nose and ears, they irritate the membranes and thus activate headaches. Part of the reason can be because it also affects breathing. The dust in the wind may also intensify the irritation.
Hence, we can see how does change in weather cause headaches in people. In a study involving a weather system in Canada, the researchers observed two separate migraine attacks cases. They focused the research on the effects of the Chinook winds.

Some people with migraines were suffering at a time during the fall of the barometric pressure. Others experienced more migraines the following day when there was blowing wind, mostly when the wind was extreme. Therefore, though both groups were sensitive to the Chinook, there were two different reactions that the weather system caused.

What are the common symptoms of weather-related headaches?

The headaches that occur due to weather changes are very similar to other typical headaches. However, you may experience other symptoms, such as:
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Higher sensitivity to light
  • Lack of sensation in the face and neck
  • Aching in one or both the temples
  • Dizziness

You may be experiencing weather-related headaches if you happen to have these symptoms when the weather changes.

What are the steps you can take to prevent weather-related headaches?

There are specific headache triggers like red wine, which you can avoid. However, it is a big challenge to avoid weather. You can try moving to a different location with a preferable weather type. But this move is always uncertain as another weather condition may be the reason for another headache too. 

The safest methods to handle migraines that are outcomes of the weather conditions are to avoid or manage other stimuli. The management of triggers that are in your control is one way of preventing the attacks. 

Some of the steps you can take are:

1. Maintaining proper sleep routine and having adequate sleep:

Getting at least 7-8 hours of daily sleep will keep you healthy and reduce stress on your mental health. It is also known to help get rid of occurring headaches.

2. No skipping of meals.

When you skip meals regularly or follows an irregular eating habit, it causes the blood sugar to fall. As a result, the body becomes weak and makes you vulnerable to or even triggers a headache.

3. Keeping yourself hydrated:

An average adult needs to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Hydration is known to reduce the intensity and duration of headaches.

4. Avoiding possible food triggers:

Some people may have the same food triggers, while others may have different food triggers. Hence, with experience and knowledge of your respective food trigger, it is best to avoid them. Some common headache triggering foods are red wine, coffee, cheeses, chocolates, citrus fruits, dry fruits, etc.

5. Managing proper schedule to avoid stress:

When you procrastinate and keep things for later, very soon, you may develop stress. The stress can further weaken your mental health and trigger headaches.

6. Monitoring weather changes:

Say you are sensitive to weather changes and are aware of the weather pattern, which triggers headaches. In this case, you can check weather forecasts and take preventive measures accordingly. For example, if windy weather is not suitable, it is best to stay indoors and avoid the wind.

7. Medications:

In case the migraine symptoms set in, you can take the medicines you regularly take to treat headaches. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and triptans are some of the most common and effective medications. You must not use strong medications regularly as they might cause more harm than the good they do.

8. Maintaining a headache diary:

It is essential always to maintain a record of the days and times your headaches occur. You can record details like when it happened, how long it lasted, and what might have been the cause. That will help you to find a probable cause so that you can prevent and reduce future effects.

When should you see a doctor, and how to diagnose it?

If the attacks become frequent, it is best to consult your doctor and ask for daily preventive medication. If you feel that the weather changes are triggering your headaches, let your doctor know about it.

There is no particular test to detect weather-related headaches. Hence, it is essential to provide your doctor with enough information about your headache. The information may be about how long your headaches last, what time they occur, your diet, etc. 

As previously stated, it will be beneficial for you to maintain a headache diary. That is to make it easier for even the doctor to analyze your condition. If it is your first time visiting a doctor, you may have to go through various kinds of tests. The tests help to rule out probabilities of other sicknesses.

Bottom line:
Experts suggest that headaches are a defensive mechanism of the body, indicating the particular person to move somewhere safer. There is still much research required to know why does change in weather causes headaches and finding solutions. For now, it is best to remain cautious and take precautions than to be sorry later. You do not have control over the weather, but you can deal with the things around you. Managing your life by avoiding things that harm your health, exercising daily, avoiding noisy areas, etc., can help you.

Written by

Brianna Elliott

Chief Editor

Hi I’m Brianna

A few years ago, after dealing with health issues for nearly half a decade, I realized fitness is my ultimate destiny. Hence, I enrolled in various exercise and training programs and coached in mindfulness and wellness routines. I then blended all of these habits into my daily life to get better at what I was doing and become an expert. 

Through this brand, I aim to elevate people’s spirits of wanting to live their best lives, create a system of self-awareness, and accelerate their inner growth.

 Learn More.