Frigid Temps and Nashville Migraines

(c) Can Stock Photo

January 22, 2015

Before you breathe a sigh of relief know that Nashville migraineurs aren’t the only ones affected by cold weather. No matter where they live, chronic headache and migraine sufferers for whom weather events trigger symptoms are especially susceptible during the harshest winters.

The National Headache Foundation conducted a survey several years ago that revealed that changes in barometric pressure and weather triggered headaches for 69 percent of migraine sufferers. Similarly, the Mayo Clinic reports that nasty weather and cold temperatures affect certain migraine sufferers. In a study out of Taiwan, reported at the 54th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Headache Society, scientists found that among a subject group of migraine sufferers, about 50 percent were affected by changes in temperature, and roughly 20 percent of the time this was due to cold weather.

The underlying reasons aren’t clear but experts suspect several possibilities such as fluctuations in the brain chemical serotonin, and the effects of atmospheric pressure on blood vessels and sinus cavities. In fact, according to the American Headache Society, about 90 percent of self-diagnosed sinus headaches are in reality migraines

It’s deceptively simplistic and inaccurate to assume that a frosty temperature in a city like Nashville triggers migraines or chronic headaches. In fact it’s possible you could spend a headache-free month, trapped in an Alaskan igloo if the barometer didn’t budge, there was no lightening, no stress, no flashing lights, no thunder and no congested sinuses…well you get the idea. Typically factors like extreme cold temperatures are more likely to trigger migraines and headaches when other sparking conditions are also present.

The best source for answers, as to whether cold temperatures and other suspected culprits are your triggers, can be found on the pages of your migraine diary.   Meticulous tracking of your headaches and the environmental factors that exist during your attacks will be the most accurate predictors of whether forecasted frigid weather will trigger your migraines.

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