The Cold Truth About Migraines and Winter

October 5, 2015

Cold Weather Headache PainFall is nearly upon us. For many of us, it’s the best time of year. It’s a time for sweaters, scarves, a nice chai tea, holiday decorations, family, and a few awful, stabbing migraines.

Does that sound like you? Chances are it does. Or maybe it doesn’t. Or maybe it kind of does, or maybe it doesn’t really but sometimes it does. Or maybe you’re getting a migraine right now.

With migraines, nothing is simple except the certainty that another migraine will come. Around this time of year, you will notice many people talking about how cold weather and migraines fit together like a hand and a glove. They may, but the science is not quite there. For every study that affirmatively tests the effect of weather on migraines, there is another that pronounces its results to be “inconclusive.” Now, an inconclusive study does not mean that the relationship between migraines and weather does not exist, it might just mean we haven’t yet found the right link or done the right study.

But still, many migraine sufferers declare that yes, indeed, migraines hit them hardest during the winter, and scientific theories abound.

Why Weather?

Here are a few of the cold weather=migraines theories.

The Dryness Theory.

Drops in barometric pressure, wind, and heaters tend to produce drier conditions, which can lead to dehydration, a known trigger of migraines. Some people with migraines have reported that extra-vigilance about keeping hydrated has helped ward off their migraines, lending some validity to this theory.

The “Any Change is Bad” Theory.

The “any change is bad” theory holds that migraines activate when any change happens, which leads some to believe that migraines can be just as readily caused by the spring into summer as the fall into winter. However, those who live in cold climates may be exposed to more—and more drastic—changes on a winter’s day than people who live in more temperate climes. The journey from the warm house to the cold street to the warm car to the cold parking lot to the warm office…just the thought of all that fluctuation is enough to send some over the edge.

The Evolutionary Theory.

One theory of migraines in winter uses evolution as its starting point. Migraines, say the proponents of this theory, make us less ambitious and less willing to take risks. They essentially force us inside, which can serve to protect us against frigid temperature. Heck, maybe bears get a sudden migraine in fall, leading them to dig a hole and hibernate for the winter.

Maybe It’s Not the Weather At All

There’s a famous old sociological statistic that says ice cream consumption is positively correlated with surfing. If that sounds bizarre, that’s because it is: it is what is known as a “spurious correlation,” which means it’s true but it’s meaningless. Yes, ice cream consumption and surfing do tend to happen at the same time, but ice cream and surfing have nothing to with each other. The link is that they both happen in the summer.

So it makes sense that another theory of migraines in winter holds that it’s not really the weather at all – it’s the commotion. Exactly that which makes the winter season so enjoyable for so many of us—the family, the tea, the wine, the music—is what causes the migraine trigger.

What to Do?

One way to deal with your winter migraine is to move to a temperate zone like Hawaii, where no major weather swings occur at all. If you can’t do that, maybe you should hibernate like a bear or never attend a function that features holiday lights and music. But maybe that sounds exactly like what has plagued you for so long: missing out on life because of migraines.

This is where migraine treatments come in. Too few people seek out real, powerful, lasting treatments that get them back into the swing of life without migraine pain or the perpetual worry that you will somehow do something to trigger it.

The Omega Procedure

But 8,000 people and counting have found a better way with the Migraine Treatment Centers of America’s Omega procedure. The procedure—and the science behind it—is much more straightforward than the dozens of migraine-weather studies that confirm, or deny, or exasperatingly claim that their results are “inconclusive.”

Rather than trying to unravel the mysterious causes of migraines, the Omega procedure seeks to treat them. It accomplishes this by implanting a small device that is used to send small electrical signals that block the migraine pain when it begins – and it has been remarkably successful. 87% of patients who have tried it have found their migraine pain has been significantly reduced.

And so, the scientific journey toward a comprehensive understanding of the causes of migraines goes on…but you no longer need to miss winter while you wait for it.

Previous post:

Next post: