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Barometric Headaches

by
author image Miguel Cavazos
Miguel Cavazos is a photographer and fitness trainer in Los Angeles who began writing in 2006. He has contributed health, fitness and nutrition articles to various online publications, previously editing stand-up comedy and writing script coverage as a celebrity assistant. Cavazos holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and political science from Texas Christian University.
Barometric Headaches
The barometric pressure decreases before it starts to rain. Photo Credit Rain image by Herbert Gremmelmaier from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

A CBS News article reports that as many as 70 percent of people that suffer from migraines experience attacks as the barometric pressure drops before it rains. According to the article, a study by the Headache Care Center and published in 2005 by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, the majority of migraines that may be triggered or worsened by barometric pressure changes are erroneously treated as sinus headaches.

Migraines

Changes in barometric pressure may trigger your migraines. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine with the National Institutes of Health, migraines are a type of headache caused by abnormal activity in your brain. A migraine attack may begin with nerve pathways and chemicals in your brain that affect blood flow in your brain and surrounding tissues. Blood vessels in your brain may constrict or dilate in response to these neural nerve and chemical changes. You may experience pain on one side of your face or head during a migraine attack.

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Sinus Headaches

Barometric pressure changes may lead to sinus headaches. Damp and cold weather may intensity pain in your sinuses and barometric pressure changes may trigger sinus headaches if your sinus cavities are slow to equalize air pressure inside your sinuses. Symptoms of sinus headaches include pain in front part of your head and around your eyes. A fever and yellow or green nasal discharge may accompany sinus headaches.

Research

An article on the Weather Channel's website reports on research by the Headache Care Center that suggests barometric pressure headaches may be migraines that are mistaken for sinus headaches. The article suggests that weather changes may trigger half of all migraines. Cold and dry weather may trigger migraines in addition changes in barometric pressure and other types of changes. The article recommends that you keep a record of weather changes that occur around your headaches and consult your doctor to get a diagnosis that identifies weather you are experiences sinus headaches or migraines.

Coping

MayoClinic.com recommends that you keep a headache journal to cope with headaches that may be caused by changes in barometric pressure. List each incidence of a headache with information about when it occurs and how long it lasts. Indicate possible causes that include weather conditions. You can monitor changes in the weather and try to avoid headache triggers by staying indoors or taking migraine medication at the first sign of an attack. MayoClinic.com suggests that a healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate rest helps control stress. These lifestyle practices may reduce the number and severity of migraines that may be due to barometric pressure changes.

Physiology

Your head is a large cavity filled with fluids, brain tissue, smaller cavities and sealed chambers like blood vessels. These chambers expand and contract as environmental pressure changes occur outside of your head. For example, your middle ear has a small tube that equalizes air pressure by connecting the chamber of your middle ear with your nasal cavity. A cold or infection may block this passage and prevent pressure from equalizing. This condition can become painful when environmental air pressure outside of your head changes rapidly

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