Did you wake up with a pounding headache this morning? The way your temples pulsate, everything feels blurry, and even brushing your teeth seems like a Herculean task?
For once, it might not be a hangover (although you happen to have one too many while watching the Euros, it might be better to have a fried egg sandwich than reading the rest of this article). Instead, you could have weather-related headaches or migraines. Let’s call it ‘thunderstorm’.
Thunderhead (not a medical term) is caused by heavy skies, high humidity and ubiquitous storm clouds – the kind of weather we’ve had in the UK for the past 24 hours and which lasts for the rest of the week. The NHS says changes in pressure that occur with changes in weather “trigger chemical and electrical changes in the brain.” This irritates the nerves in the brain and leads to a headache.
The official advice? Look at the weather forecast and “make sure you have some pain relievers on hand if you might need them”.
Dr. Jessica Briscoe, headache specialist at the Headache Center at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, says about 70 percent of people who experience headaches or migraines on a regular basis say changes in air pressure can trigger them.
“External or internal changes can trigger migraines,” she says. “They’re triggered by a whole bunch of things that work together to trigger an attack, but one of the things that people are very sensitive to is changes in air pressure, which can obviously be a problem at this stormy time.”
Some people, she says, can predict when a storm is coming because they feel a migraine. “Migraines usually take 12 to 24 hours to develop. Since the pressure changes usually precede every storm, people feel they can predict when a storm is coming because that’s when their migraines will occur. ”This is why the cool breeze that often follows a storm can be such a relief ; and why you may have felt an extra feeling of stale this morning when you found the air as sultry as it was yesterday. In short: the pressure is still high. There are more storms to come.
Briscoe, who says that people genetically predisposed to migraines suffer from “increased sensitivity of the nerves around the head,” advised staying one step ahead of “classic” headache triggers such as poor sleep, skipping meals, and dehydration when the weather feels heavy. “You may sweat more; it can affect your appetite. When it’s humid, many people don’t eat as regularly or don’t drink enough. You can lose salts if they don’t rehydrate effectively. The sleep pattern could change because people may not sleep as well or have a more restless night. ”
Una Farrell, spokeswoman for the Migraine Trust, says that people who are vulnerable to attack say that “the migraine brain doesn’t like change.” She advises you to put in extra effort in humid weather, following your normal routine to ward off attacks. So eat when you normally eat, go to bed when you normally go to bed, and drink little and often throughout the day. “Try to move [at the cooler times of the day] because it helps you relax and has as little disruption to your routine as possible, ”she adds
Whether or not you are predisposed to having migraines, if you are currently experiencing frequent headaches, treat the pain before it gets too severe. “The sooner you treat a migraine, the more effective the pain reliever is,” says Briscoe. “Make sure you keep the pain under control.”
Much like a hangover, your best thunderstorm medicine is likely the classic paracetamol, water, and wait and see combination.