Lightning increase the chances of headache and migraine

Lightning in Arlington (Credit: Postdlf/Wikipedia)

Researchers have found a link between lightning and the start of headache and migraines.

This research has been published online in the journal Cephalalgia.

This study has presented the affect of lightning on the start of headache and migraine for the first time and could help to work on the treatment of pain and to take preventive measures in chronic sufferers.

Researchers in this study asked headache sufferers living in Ohio and Missouri to keep a record of the headache activity for three to six months. They found 31% increase in the chances of headache and 28% increase in the risk of migraine for chronic headache sufferers on days lighting struck within 25 miles of research participant’s home. While the new-onset headache and migraine increased by 24% and 23% in participants.

“There are a number of ways in which lightning might trigger headaches,” Vincent Martin, MD, professor in the division of general internal medicine, UC Health physician and headache expert, said in a statement. “Electromagnetic waves emitted from lightning could trigger headaches. In addition, lightning produces increases in air pollutants like ozone and can cause release of fungal spores that might lead to migraine.”

One of the reasons found for higher chances of headache is negatively charged lightning currents. Among the other reasons is increase in air pollutants.

“There are a number of ways in which lightning might trigger headaches,” Vincent Martin said. “Electromagnetic waves emitted from lightning could trigger headaches. In addition, lightning produces increases in air pollutants like ozone and can cause release of fungal spores that might lead to migraine.”

“This study gives some insight into the tie between headaches or migraines, lightning and other meteorologic factors,” Geoffrey Martin said. “However, the exact mechanisms through which lightning and/or its associated meteorologic factors trigger headache are unknown, although we do have speculations. Ultimately, the effect of weather on headache is complex, and future studies will be needed to define more precisely the role of lightning and thunderstorms on headache.”

Reference:

Geoffrey V Martin, Timothy Houle, Robert Nicholson, Albert Peterlin, Vincent T Martin, (2013). Lightning and its association with the frequency of headache in migraineurs: An observational cohort study. Cephalalgia, doi: 10.1177/0333102412474502