KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you suffer from migraines or know someone who does, you may have noticed that they seem to get worse during the summertime. So, why is that?
Barometric pressure is the measurement of air pressure in the atmosphere and changes based on temperature, altitude and moisture. As these conditions shift – especially in extreme situations like a thunderstorm, it can impact a person’s sinuses and cause a migraine.
“A lot of patients would come in and will be like ‘I know it sounds crazy, but right before a big storm front comes I get a horrible migraine and so I can always tell when I’m going to get a migraine or when there’s going to be a storm, I’m getting a migraine.’ So we do know that fluctuations in the barometric pressure can cause patients to have more migraine,” said Dr. Megan Bill.
Migraines are much more painful than a typical headache and can lead to other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Bill, a neurologist with UT Medical Center, treats patients who suffer from migraines.
“So, migraine is a special type of headache where patients, some patients, can have a warning which is called an aura where they may see flashing lights before they get head pain that comes on and it’s usually a pretty severe head pain that can come over one side of the head, throbbing even,” she said.
There are various treatment options, which can include medications, therapy, BOTOX, and also dietary and other lifestyle changes. Avoiding triggers helps as well.
“Other triggers may be certain foods. So, alcohol, not everyone likes to hear that, but alcohol, aged cheeses, and additives to food, like MSG, and certain sweeteners. Some people can contribute to their migraines, [by] not drinking enough water in a day,” she said. “Sometimes whenever I see patients I’ll recommend going through and tracking when they have migraines and seeing if what they ate or what they drink on a certain day contributed to the migraines and that’s a good way, without needing medicine, that you could try to prevent them.”
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Experts estimate nearly half of the adult population experiences headaches and 12% of Americans get migraines. Women are about three times more likely than men to experience migraines.
Contact your primary care physician if you need treatment.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.