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Migraine Sufferers' Redemption: The Weather Does Cause Headaches

DiscoblogBy Boonsri DickinsonMarch 12, 2009 12:05 AM


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Doctors have long known that food, alcohol, stress, and hormones can cause migraines. And now, research shows that weather can too. For years weather-related headaches were considered “clinical folklore,” until Harvard researcher Kenneth Mukamal conducted a “large-scale” study and found that fluctuations in temperature can contribute to or even cause the pain. The researchers examined the headache complaints of over 7,000 patients admitted to Boston area ERs from 2000 to 2007, and compared them to weather patterns. In particular, Mukamal, a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, used data from meteorological and pollutant monitors to see how the weather was three days before each patient’s visit. The results confirmed every migraine patient’s intuition: Every time the temperature went up by 9 degrees Fahrenheit, a person’s risk for getting a headache increased by 7.5 percent the next day. And a drop in pressure triggered by incoming storms increased a person’s risk by 6 percent over the course of several days, possibly by causing sinus infections that lead to headaches. One Florida doctor even said hurricanes make a lot of people sick. (Though that's hardly a surprise—the wind can stir up germs, too). Given this new info, it’s worth asking: How will we ever survive climate change without having to carry an endless supply of Tylenol? Or, for that matter, how do people in Florida survive at all? Related Content: DISCOVER: The Ground Zero of Climate Change DISCOVER: The Pain Is In The Brain DISCOVER: Vital Signs

Image: flickr/ josepy

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