Headache When Weather Changes

by Mary J.
(Lenoir, NC)

I get horrible headaches whenever the barometric pressure goes down, or I travel to higher elevations. Could this be a sinus or a neurological problem? Any suggestions?


Hi Mary,

And I thought Buffalo was the only place with big pressure swings!

As I tell many of my patients when they tell me they get "sinus", it most probably is a migraine if you get a headache when the weather changes.

The most common cause of migraine is stress, second is hormone fluctuations and third is barometric pressure changes causing migraine. Changing elevations by flying is also a common migraine trigger. This is why many migraineurs cannot go diving as the pressure change could bring on a severe migraine underwater.

If the headaches are severe and disabling, you should talk to your doctor or consider seeing a neurologist. If the treatment for migraine (Imitrex or another triptan) takes the headache away then it was indeed a migraine.

Many of my patients do respond to increasing their magnesium for headaches.

Good luck!
Mary Kay Betz MS RPA-C

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Sinus Infection

by chris
(san tan valley)

My girlfriend has been nauseous and has had a headache for 2 weeks now. We went to the doctor because we don't have insurance for her we have to pay out of pocket. He said she has an ear infection and a sinus infection.

He didn't even give her anything for her ears like drops or anything. All he gave her was cipro for the "infection" an antibiotic. She is allergic to everything so she couldn't use penicilin or amoxocilin. We really need help because her days are really crappy and she feels horrible.



Hi Chris,

Unfortunately, an acute sinus infection can be very uncomfortable. Had them myself and thought it would never end! It sounds as if she also has an ear infection also called otitis media. When the ears are infected, it affects the balance and very often there is a sense of feeling as if the room is moving or perhaps feeling drunk. This is what is causing the dizziness.

The nausea is coming from the post-nasal drip which usually runs into the stomach when sleeping.

Cipro is a good choice, but it will take 2-3 days for it to start working. Why is that? The sinuses have no veins or arteries going into them unlike other structures in the body, such as muscles. As a result, with no vessels to carry the medication into the sinuses, it must diffuse in slowly. It is very important that she stay on it the full amount of time, usually 7-10 days to get the full effect of sinus relief treatment. The ears may clear up a bit sooner.

Other things to add in? Over the counter decongestant and perhaps antihistamine. Stay well hydrated. Take ibuprofen or aleve for fever and for sinus pain and yes, they can all be taken with the Cipro.

If not feeling better by today, with a few days of the Cipro on board, you can call the doctor and perhaps request a Medrol dose pak. This is generic and cheap. It is low (very low) dose steroid pak which really will help with the sinus and ear pain by knocking down the inflammation.

If the Cipro is only minimally effective, you may have to ask the doctor to extend the treatment to a full 21 days. As mentioned above, with a severe infection, she may need three weeks to get enough antibiotic into the sinuses for full treatment.

Good luck,

Mary Kay Betz MS RPA-C

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Does the scenerio above sound like you? If not, or if you think you need more information please read about different types of headaches to find out which type of headache you are experiencing.

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