We’ve all heard of those who claim to have the ability to predict the weather using parts of their bodies. Whether you suffer from arthritis and can tell rain is on the way from how your knees ache or have a close friend who gets a throbbing headache whenever a storm approaches, keep reading to learn more.
With a book having been written about headaches, there’s a lot of information that people who experience headaches have certainly shared that relate to weather. And apparently, there’s a scientific inclination to why some people can tell impending weather changes through their headaches.
While it’s challenging to determine the number of people who suffer from weather-related headaches, studies indicate that more than 60% of people who experience migraines believe they are sensitive to the weather.
According to a 2015 research involving daily sales figures of a certain headache medication in Japan, sales were significantly high when the average barometric pressure dropped. This is common just before bad weather.
But then, why do these headaches occur? Two action mechanisms are at play here.
One relates to the sinuses—usually the four tiny air-filled cavities present within the face.
The same way people’s ears “pop” whenever there are changes in air pressure, changes in atmospheric pressure can also trigger an imbalance in sinus pressure leading to inflammation and pain. The feeling can differ based on the most affected sinus and this can vary from pain on your face, forehead pain, pain between and behind eyes, and diffuse headache on the front or back of your headache. The type of headache you’ll experience will depend on your head’s structure.
This kind of headache also occurs owing to how change in pressure alters blood flow within the cerebrovascular system which is responsible for controlling the circulation of blood around the head.
Did you know that blood is toxic to neurons? Well, now you know. As such, it’s important that blood doesn’t get to the brain. Blood vessels within the cerebrovascular system contain receptors that become active when blood vessels are extremely widened; forming an early warning sign that something is wrong. Pain is perceived as the activation.
These two will at least cause a generalised headache in people that are too sensitive to changes in pressure. However, even the minute decreases in pressure have been associated with increased episodes of migraine in sufferers.
Dipping pressure related to bad weather is not the only thing that can impact us. Rising humidity can also lead to headaches via our sinuses. This is the case since high humidity increases the amount of mucus generated by the lining within the sinuses so as to trap dust, allergens and pollution elements that are present in the moist, dense air. This usually leads to congestion, discomfort and inflammation in the sinuses causing a sinus headache.
Medicines and other remedies
There’s little we can do about the weather. So besides staying indoors in pressure-regulated chambers, decongestants and painkillers come in handy in remedying our pain until the bad weather passes.
It’s worthwhile to note that headaches are rarely triggered by one thing—hence atmospheric pressure changes may not always be the cause for your headache.
Poor body posture and inflammation (often due to stress) can cause headaches. Muscles contracted for long periods require more blood flow so as to deliver oxygen and the needed nutrients—overtime causing inflammation.
Stress increases adrenaline and cortisol levels in the body causing inflammation and a widening of the blood levels in your head—leading to pain and headache.
Reducing stress and keeping the right posture can help prevent headaches. Keeping the body well-hydrated and eating the right food diet complete with essential minerals and vitamins, and shunning trigger foods and drinks (I bet you know them) can go a long way in helping.
In the wake of an impending bad weather, vigorous chewing as with gum helps to equalise the pressure in the sinuses via your nose, mouth and Eustachian tube (running from the centre ear to your throat and plays a crucial role in equalising pressure)—and can protect against a pressure headache. Chewing sugar-free but xylitol-sweetened gum goes a long way in stopping the horrible respiratory bugs from attaching to your mucus membranes by changing the wall structure of the cell, as found in one study.
There are also natural painkillers such as dopamine and serotonin. These neurochemicals prevent the pain signal from moving to the brain hence lessening the amount of pain felt. These also play a great role in our mood. This explains why low serotonin levels trigger migraine, and this is felt in the form of low mood. No wonder days preceding migraine episodes people experience a craving for chocolate (which has a chemical that changes into serotonin) and intimacy, which enhances dopamine, serotonin and oxytoxin, the bonding hormone and a powerful painkiller.
Topping up these neurotransmitters with things we like doing whether chatting with friends, listening to music or going for a walk in serene places ensures excellent hormonal hygiene, while reducing the effects that headaches—even the barometric ones, do have on our day-to-day lives.
So the next time the weather looks bad, watching your favourite movie while munching away at a bar of chocolate can be the perfect remedy for you.
The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs, objectives or circumstances into consideration, and is not financial advice, legal advice or otherwise a recommendation to purchase any financial product or insurance policy. You should seek your own independent financial advice from a qualified financial and insurance adviser before making any financial decisions, and seek your own independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor before making any decisions of a legal nature.