March 5, 2021

Weather Headaches and the Weather


Having looked at the cause of weather headaches in the previous article we will now focus on weather headaches and the weather. Weather and air pressure are intimately linked and the result of their interaction not only determines the weather but the risk of headaches in someone who is weather sensitive.


What is air pressure?

Air pressure refers to the force exerted by the weight of air above an object, it is measured using a barometer and can be represented in various units such as Millibar (mbar), inches or millimeters of mercury (inHg or mmHg) and Kilopascals (KPa).

Why does air pressure change?

Difference in air pressure result from the way in which the sun heats the Earths surface and this is affected by the angle of the earths rotation and the seasons of the years. These factors, combined with the Earths surface being uneven and covered in both land and water masses, result in a very dynamic and constantly changing distribution of air mass i.e. non-uniform.

Weather Headaches and the Weather

Weather Headaches and the Weather

High pressure refers to when the column of air above a given place is greater than average i.e. more weight/pressure, and low pressure is where the column of air is smaller than average i.e. less weight/pressure.

The situation is complex because moisture, altitude and temperature all interplay with, and affect air pressure. It is for this reason that the:

  • Equator is associated with lower air pressure i.e. warm and moist air is less dense and tends to rise.
  • Earth’s poles are associated with higher air pressure i.e. cold and less moist air is more dense and tends to sink.

How does understanding air pressure help me with my headache?

Changing air pressure is associated with changing weather patterns. By comparing the onset and intensity of your headaches with air pressure readings taken over a period of time, it is possible to reveal what specific patterns of air pressure are likely to trigger your headaches.

In addition, you will also begin to ‘tune- in’ to the weather and be able to have a good idea whether you are likely to go down with a headache. For example, if you are sensitive to:

A rising trend in air pressure or high pressure, you will find this situation can occur:

  • Following a storm, or
  • When there are clear skies, or
  • In winter time (if there has been frost) it indicates possible oncoming snow.

A falling trend in air pressure or low pressure, you will find that this situation occurs:

  • As a storm approaches, or
  • During a storm, or
  • When the weather is generally poor and wet.

What are the most common air pressure/weather conditions that lead to headaches?

Unfortunately, the air pressure/weather pattern, sensitivity, type and severity of headache experienced by weather sensitive people varies considerably between individuals. It is often found to be caused by trending or changes in air pressure/weather.  This is why determining whether a person suffers from weather headaches and under what conditions they occur will involve the individual keeping a headache diary that notes the weather and air pressure over a number of months.

Having previously considered the symptoms and cause of weather headaches, the article following weather headaches and the weather will look at treatment for weather headaches, in particular the importance of keeping a headache diary.

Cause of Weather Headaches


Following on from the previous article entitled symptoms of weather headaches, we now turn our attention to the cause of weather headaches.

Throughout history, people have known that the weather plays a significant role in the world around them including their health. However, the reason why it should cause some people to experience headaches is  not fully understood at present. Various suggestion have been forwarded such as:

  • Ionization.
  • Pressure variations in various tubes, sacs, cavities and blood vessels in the head region, or
  • Pressure related chemical changes in the body.
Cause of Weather Headaches

Cause of Weather Headaches

One of the more popular suggestions for the cause of weather headaches involves the association between varying air pressure and changing oxygen levels in the head. When oxygen levels fluctuate, the blood vessels respond by either dilating or constricting and this, in conjunction with various chemical being released, leads to headaches and migraines.

However, recent studies using MRI and other techniques indicate that the situation is more complex in nature, and that numerous changes can occur in the brain leading to headache or migraine formation. Even though the precise cause and mechanism may still remain elusive, fortunately, effective treatment of weather headache symptoms is still possible. will aim to keep you informed when new studies and research shed further light on the underlying cause of weather headaches. The next article in this series will consider weather headaches and the weather because through understanding how they interact, a person will be able to control and treat their headaches more effectively.

Symptoms of Weather Headaches

Diagnosing whether a person is weather sensitive may take time because the frequency, severity and symptoms of weather headaches vary considerably between individuals. For this reason, headaches such as these may simply be discounted or ‘passed off’ for any number of reasons e.g. late night, too much wine.

This situation can continue for many years before the person starts slowly to put ‘the pieces of the jigsaw’ together. They will begin to realize that there is an uncanny coincidence between certain weather conditions and the risk of them developing headache symptoms; even then, most people will never really work out the exact link. Why? Because that will require them keeping a headache diary over a period of time. This will record when their headaches occur, their severity and certain variables such as air pressure.

What symptoms can one expect if they suffer from weather headaches?

People can develop pain around the lower back part of the head, the forehead area and/or region at sides of the nose, whilst others develop a general headache that can have a vise-like nature. The headache is most common on both sides of the head.

Symptoms of Weather Headaches

Symptoms of Weather Headaches

However, some people develop more intense and reoccurring headaches that are called migraines. For these people, changing weather conditions can act as a migraine trigger. They may also have their migraines triggered by other things such as certain foods or drinks, irregular amounts of sleep or hormonal changes. When a person suffers from migraine headaches a variety of possible symptoms can occur, for example:

  • Severe pain typically on one side of head and/or in the temples, head or eyes that can last many days.
  • Possible aura, flashes or other visual disturbances.
  • Sensitivity to sound, bright lights or strong aromas during the attack.
  • Nausea with possible vomiting.
  • Problems speaking and altered perception.
  • Numbness or tingling sensations.

Therefore, if a person gets headaches or migraines they should consider the possibility that they may be experiencing weather related headaches. However, it should be noted that although the overwhelming majority of headache and migraines sufferers do not have any serious or life threatening underlying medical condition, an individual who develops persistent or unusual symptoms should seek medical advice.

Having looked into the symptoms of weather headaches, the next article in the series will look at the cause of weather headaches.

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