When rain brings pain

By Michelle Anderson • Published: May 26th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you know someone who says bad weather causes his headaches, don’t be so quick to scoff.

A recent study of children and teenagers who suffer from migraines or tension headaches found that rain or higher-than-usual humidity tended to accompany the painful episodes.

Humidity or rain were three times more likely than average weather days to coincide with the children’s headaches, according to researchers who chronicled the study for the American Headache Society.

When it rained, the children had a fifty-nine percent chance of reporting headaches, compared with just a twenty-one percent chance when there was no rain.

Researchers gave twenty-five children and teenagers ages eight to seventeen handheld computers to log their symptoms three times a day. That’s a big change from previous studies, which often relied on patients’ memories.

The researchers then compared what patients reported on the small computers to weather data from the same two-week period.

The link between weather and headaches reported was no stronger for children who initially thought that weather triggered their pain, the researchers said.

And unlike earlier studies, the current study did not find other weather variables… such as temperature, barometric pressure or sunlight… to be good headache predictors.

The participants were recruited from one neurology clinic in Kansas City, Missouri, and so are not likely to be a good representative sample for all children.

And although knowing what triggers headaches is a big help for those who suffer with them, the researchers acknowledged that it’s yet to be seen how doctors can help those with chronic headaches handle bad weather.