Why do we get weather-related headaches? Explain weather whiplash

Alanna Santini's friends call her the “human weather vane.” On cloudy days, the 42-year-old advertising executive from Silver Lake invariably suffers from severe headaches. It's an experience she grew accustomed to in her home state of New York and was happy to escape when she moved west five years ago. But this year, as an unusual dark and stormy The Los Angeles winter turned into a rainy, cloudy spring, her weather-induced headaches returned with a vengeance – adding a whole new dimension to the term June gloom.

“For the past three months, I would wake up with a headache because it was raining or about to rain,” Santini said.

Seasonal headaches are a common, but somewhat mysterious phenomenon (it is important to note that migraine is a type of headache, but not all headaches are migraines). Many people get both types of headaches remark that they can occur during sudden shifts in barometric pressure as the weather changes.

Such complaints have become so frequent that scientists and healthcare providers have attempted to investigate and explain the correlation. So how exactly do the piercing clouds and rain contribute to headaches and migraines?

One possible cause could be our sinuses, says Dr. David Gudis, chief of rhinology and anterior skull base surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Barometric sinusitisalso known as barosinusitis, is a well-established medical condition in which people experience intense sinus headaches and inflammation. Gudis describes the sinuses as “compartments of small air-filled cavities, like a honeycomb,” or “an office of many cubicles in which each space is an air-filled compartment, lined with a mucous membrane, surrounded by bony partitions.”

When the sinuses are functioning normally, he says, air moves freely so that the air pressure in the nose and sinuses is the same as in the surrounding atmosphere. But when the sinuses become clogged, usually due to inflammation, the air pressure in your sinuses is unequal to that of your surroundings, causing pain or pressure from fluid that can't drain or air that can't move freely.

Barosinusitis is quite common during flights or while diving, because the atmospheric pressure around us cannot always equal the air pressure in our sinuses. (It also explains why we often feel like our ears need to pop on airplanes). Gudis compares it to the way a half-empty plastic water bottle changes shape during a flight.

“If you drink from a plastic water bottle during a flight and twist the cap on, when you land it looks like someone has squeezed the bottle,” Gudis said. “According to Boyles loh wellIf temperature does not change, pressure and volume are inversely correlated, meaning that pressure changes in the environment can cause expansion or contraction of the air space cavities in the body.”

While these concepts may sound like long-forgotten high school science lessons, they explain why so many of us feel uncomfortable when air pressure changes. Although June gloom and other weather patterns occur much more slowly than the sudden rise and fall of air pressure during a flight, you may still feel the same kind of discomfort during associated barometric shifts, resulting in sinus or ear pain.

For years, experts have studied how weather patterns can cause headaches. Gudis cites a weather phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest known as Chinook windS, strong winds that develop from late autumn to early spring. When a straight jet stream blows in from the Pacific Ocean.

In 2000, a study was published in Neurology who discovered that this wind could cause migraines. Other studies have linked a deficiency in vitamin D (which we get naturally from sunlight) and increased vitamin D deficiency tension headache And migraine.

Dr. Diana Shadbehrhead of the Headache Clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, agrees that barometric pressure can affect the sinuses, but says researchers have not yet been able to prove that weather changes are the sole cause of seasonal headaches and migraines.

“Although many patients report that their headaches are made worse by changes in the weather, and there has even been some research study in Japan that showed a link between barometric pressure changes and more headaches, it is difficult to take into account all the other variables that can cause headaches, such as different foods, stress and hormonal fluctuations,” she wrote via email.

When it comes to weather-induced headaches, the triggers are different for everyone; for some, Shadbehr suggests sunny days can be a trigger.

“Sunlight contains blue wavelengths of light that can trigger a migraine attack,” she said. “Photophobia can occur in both natural and synthetic light environments. In addition, exposure to sunlight can cause dehydration, which can also cause headaches. Light can activate brain cells in brain areas involved in headaches.”

Whether or not your headache is related to the weather, there are ways to find relief. If you have no contraindications, a dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen may provide a solution. If you think the headache may be coming from your sinuses and your doctor is okay with it, Gudis says that over-the-counter decongestants such as pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, or oxymetazoline can help, as well as nasal spray solutions such as fluticasone (steroid-based) or azelastine. (an antihistamine). Always consult your doctor before trying any new medicine. There is even an app, WeatherX, designed to alert those suffering from barometric pressure headaches when a service is taking place.

Santini says she is tired of feeling sick and tired. While none of us can control how our minds respond to the pervasive gloom of June, we can stock up on cold and allergy medications and wait patiently for our spring suffering to end naturally. Santini in particular can't wait. Until then, she says, “Have painkillers, go travel.”

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