Migraine Sufferer: Beware of Fall!


CINCINNATI, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— As many as one in four U.S. households has someone who suffers from migraines. If you are the one of the estimated 38 million Americans who is a migraine sufferer and think they really are worse this time of year, you’re not imagining it.

It’s the time of year where people think of pumpkins, changing leaves, and crisp air. But the fall means misery for many. Dr. Vincent Martin is the director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at the University of Cincinnati and president of the National Headache Foundation. He says research indicates weather changes are a primary cause of migraine.

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“So, we see a lot of low-pressure systems in the fall as we transition into winter. And it’s thought that those low-pressure systems where you get both falls in barometric pressure and low barometric pressures can actually trigger headaches in people who are susceptible to them,” explained Dr. Martin.

Fall weather patterns that lead to heavy rain and lightning can also contribute.

“We actually did a study ourselves where we found that if there was a lightning strike within 25 miles of a person’s home residence, that there was about a 26 percent excess risk of migraine attacks on those days,” recalled Dr. Martin.

Fall is also full of ragweed and mold, allergies can inflame sinuses, and trigger migraines. Doctors say you can lessen the impact of allergens by using an air filter, and allergy medicine. For those affected by the changing weather, new prescription migraine treatments may keep migraineurs from missing any fall fun.

Dr. Martin also says the shorter days may signal a change in a person’s sleep cycle and lack of sleep may also trigger migraines. So, make sure to stay with your regular sleep routine.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4808

BACKGROUND: A migraine is a headache that causes a severe throbbing or pulsing pain in the side of the head and can also cause other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to lights or sound. Migraines are attacks that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The pain can be hard to manage and often disrupts daily activities and inhibits patients greatly. Migraines can happen at any age and often cycle through one to four stages called prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome. Not ever migraineur will experience all four stages, the same kinds of symptoms, or levels of pain. Migraine is extremely common. It’s probably one of the most common conditions that we see in practice. It occurs in about 16 to 18 percent of women and about five percent of men. Overall, it’s about 12 percent of the entire population or about one in eight people overall.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201, Vincent Martin, MD, professor of medicine for the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine)

SEASONAL: There are certain conditions and substances that can trigger a migraine attack including some subtle environmental changes that come with the change of the seasons. Not all triggers will affect everyone all the time but anticipating the potential for them can help migraines preventatively manage their migraine attacks. Changes in barometric or atmospheric pressure can fluctuate as the season changes and is a potential trigger that can provoke a migraine attack. Temperature changes from hot to cool and drops in humidity can also become a potential trigger for migraines. But an unexpected aspect of fall migraine triggers is that the days get shorter and can affect your sleep schedule and an inconsistent sleep schedule can cause migraines to trigger as well. To prevent seasonal triggers, keep to a schedule as much as possible and keep track of your diet, physical activity, and sleeping patterns.

(Source: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/seasonal-migraine-triggers/)

TREATMENT: Vincent Martin, MD, professor of medicine for the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, director of the headache and facial pain program at the University of Cincinnati and president of the National Headache Foundation says, “If you knew for sure what very specific weather pattern triggered you and you were able to predict it because the weather can actually be predicted for up to seven to 14 days in advance, you could theoretically take a medication called a triptan. It’s like sumatriptan or Imitrex-like medication. Normally it’s used to treat an acute headache. But we use some of the ones that stay in the body a little bit longer shortly before a trigger and during the trigger. And it sometimes that can kind of ward it off.” He also says the three biggest triggers are weather, hormones, then stress.

(Source: Vincent Martin, MD, professor of medicine for the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine)




If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Vincent Martin, MD, professor of medicine and director of the headache and facial pain program

Read the entire Q&A