Barometric Pressure Headaches
Are barometric pressure headaches and pressure changes causing your headaches? Do you suffer from barometric pressure headaches? What in the world is that? Well when the clouds roll in and the pressure drops, you know what happens. First the stuffiness, then the dull pressure like sensation in the head which might or might become a more painful migraine.
Just about any migraine sufferer can tell you when the pressure is dropping or when the humidity is high, as a migraine will hit pretty soon. With some people it happens when the temperature drops suddenly and with others it occurs when it rises. The key here is that it changes and somehow affects your headaches.
Unfortunately, when this happens, many people think they are getting a sinus headache symptoms. This usually isn't the case. What you are really getting with barometric pressure headaches are migraine headache symptoms.
At the present time, scientists are not quite sure as to why this happens. (No..it's not the full moon!) A couple of theories have been put forth. One neurologist posed that changes in the barometric pressure could cause small pressure changes in the fluid in your brain. This could set off those migraine receptors in the brainstem.
Watch the migraine video here.
A couple of years ago, at an APA (American Psychiatric Association) meeting, Dr.Mindlin of Jefferson Medical College thought perhaps this type of migraine was due to dilation of blood vessels caused by pressure changes.
This idea is a bit complex, as the vessels dilate during a migraine no matter what the cause! The basic theory here is that the barometric receptors in the brain (which regulate blood pressure when you stand up and change position) might also be affected by atomospheric pressure changes. These pressure receptors may sense a change in atmospheric pressure and as a response cause vasodilation.
None of this has been proven yet, but those of us with migraines are getting to the point where we can predict the weather almost as well as the arthritis patients.
Dr. Mindlin's report on barometric pressure migraine.
How Do We Manage Barometric Migraine?
There are a few ways you can manange a barometric pressure headache caused by weather changes.
1. If you are taking daily medication, like anti-seizure drugs, you could consider increasing the dose slightly when the weatherman says the pressure will change.
2. Increase your magnesium intake. This might help blunt the headaches during this time. We currently recommend that patients take 600-800 mg per day.
3. At the onset of the headache, take your medication as fast as you can. If you are taking triptans (like Imitrex), add Naprosyn or Aleve to the mix. These drugs have a longer mode of action and may stay in your system long enough for the weather to blow over. Many times I will have patients on a longer acting triptan such as Frova or Axert. You could then take these twice a day for a couple of days to get the headache under control.
4. Exercise! By doing aerobic exercise you raise seratonin and endorphins which may blunt the headache. Besides if the weather is bad and you can't go outside..might as well do something productive.
Hopefully one of these suggestions with help with your barometric pressure headaches.
Read more about different types of headaches.