Sunny Weather = Fewer Migraines? The Everlasting Hunt for Triggers

Seattle from Kerry ParkYummy food, Rock Band, neighborhood walks, warm weather. Mild chronic daily headache levels and nothing more than moderate migraine symptoms. That’s what the last four days have been like for me. I’ve been so happy.

Is the convergence a coincidence? The good mood and beautiful weather certainly go together; the mild pain and weather do, too. On the big question, if mild pain and great weather are related, I have no answer.

Most people with migraine — I don’t know about other headache disorders — will tell you that weather is definitely a trigger. Researchers and headache specialists agree. Unfortunately, data are sparse and self-reports of headache pain and weather connections are inherently flawed. According to a Mayo Clinic neurologist,

Several studies suggest that weather changes trigger migraine headaches in some individuals. Study results indicate that some people who have migraines appear to be more sensitive to weather changes, such as changes in weather patterns, temperature, absolute humidity and barometric pressure. The mechanism by which these factors may trigger migraines in these individuals isn’t known.

There’s no clear evidence of a link between weather changes and other types of headaches.

Changes in weather patterns, temperature, absolute humidity and barometric pressure are potential triggers. Anyone with migraine is prone to a migraine episode from any change in weather? A little vague, isn’t it.

This is no different than saying I’m more likely to trip on a curb when the sun is shining than when it isn’t. Finding a reason should be easy. Some possibilities: I spend more time on sidewalks when the weather is nice. I’m looking around and not paying attention. Or the shoes I wear when it isn’t raining don’t fit as well as my winter shoes. Or the sun is so bright I can’t see the step. Or there are so many people in the crosswalk I can’t see where I’m going. Or the coffee I had made me shaky.

You get the point. Isolating variables in everyday life is impossible. Maybe two or three parts of my tripping scenario are to blame. Could be just one or something altogether different. I could trip on a Tuesday and again on Saturday. Unlikely that they will have the same cause.

I understand all this rationally, but still want to know what’s triggering my migraines! I’m second guessing every possible angle. Funny that when my chronic daily headache or migraine is bad I search for a reason. And when they are good, I search for a reason. Sounds like someone has control issues.

I cannot change the weather and I haven’t had any luck in tracking its relation to my head. Even if I could know when the weather would trigger a migraine, I don’t know if I’d want to. I don’t care if I can predict a migraine two days in advance. I can’t change it and I’ll spend the interim anxious it will hit any moment.

Have you found a strong correlation between weather and your migraines or headaches? Is it useful information to have? Answer on the online support group and forum or leave a comment below.


8 Responses to “Sunny Weather = Fewer Migraines? The Everlasting Hunt for Triggers”

  1. becky Says:

    Cool post! I’ve totally noticed a correlation between weather and my migraines. In the spring and summer, storm fronts seem to bring on migraines.

    However, in recent years, I’ve actually also started getting migraines due to allergies. God, can I just add ONE more trigger to my list? So anyway, I now have BETTER days when it rains – not before it rains but during – because it seems to damp down the pollen and make the air better for me.

    I had a neurologist once who firmly believed in the relationship of storm fronts/barometric pressure changes and headaches. However, haven’t met a western doctor who agreed with him yet. I’ve also found that at certain elevations I’m happier. For instance, felt FANTASTIC in Florida during a time in my cycle when I typically feel crap. Still don’t know why. And then I also felt great in the Canadian Rockies, while before and after that trip at home I was miserable! Don’t think it’s the vacation making me feel great – I’ve ruined more vacations for my husband than I care to count.

    Truly fascinating topic. But I’m with you — predicting my migraines isn’t a happy thing. I just get tense, which brings out the chronic headaches more. 🙂 I think the only thing at this point that would truly make me happy is an utter cessation of headaches altogether. Who’s ready for the chain saw? Raise your hand if you want to chop off your head!

    “Can I just add ONE more trigger” — I totally identify with that!

    Interesting about the change in triggers. Can we ever win?


  2. Katie Says:

    I have definitely noticed weather changes being a trigger. I enjoyed this post – at least someone understands. The Weather Channel has an “aches and pains” index on their website. It rates each day on a scale from 1-10 how likely it is that one will experience weather-related pain symptoms including headaches and arthritis. I have found it to be relatively accurate – not completely. In fact, my worst day was on a day that was rated a 4. Just thought you might find it interesting.

  3. Vicki Says:

    I’ve definitely found that a drop in barometric pressure is a trigger for me. I know of a weather page that lists the barometric pressure for every hour, so when I feel a migraine starting, I check it. Almost invariably, it is going down and has been for several hours. I live in a sunny desert, but even the slight barometric pressure changes that happen every day still affect me. I also get migraines when heading to a much higher elevation. Sometime I would like to try a vacation in an area known for the fewest fluctuations in barometric pressure!

  4. Wendy Says:

    I found this article after researching migraine and weather, because I’ve recently been to Greece and had no migraines (again!!), despite having no sleep one night, wrong food choices and being late for meals (all big triggers for me). It’s not the holiday and lack of stress, as all my friends seem to think, because if I holiday in this country (the UK), I still get migraines. It’s unusual for me to go more than a few days without migraine.

    Interestingly, even though all doctors seem to cite weather change as a trigger, the dramatic change from the UK to Greece wasn’t a trigger. I suspect humidity may be a trigger for me.
    Interesting article, I’m off to research the rest of the blog – thanks!!

  5. Helen Says:

    I have migraines when it gets above 100 degrees here in North Texas for any length of time. The heat seems to trigger mine. My sinuses drain constantly. I need to research the weather 3 years ago when I had 5 migtaines in 2 months, to what it’s like now. it might be interesting.

  6. Debbie Curbelo Says:

    If weather or the barametric pressure is your trigger. Does anyone know the best place to live to lessen the symptoms?

    Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone has pinpointed a place.


  7. Sydney Says:

    In the summer I get LESS not I don’t get any, but I do get less migraines than I do in the winter and in rain.

  8. Jeff Says:

    The only time I get migraines is right before a rain. At least 80%. Or sometimes it is after a front has just passed.
    But during clear sunny weather I don’t get any.
    I moved to SC from WV. In WV it rained much more than it does here in SC. So I get a lot fewer.
    I guess the desert would be the ideal place.
    If I had the bucks to retire I think I would move to try it out.

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