If you have a thundering headache, it might be to do with the weather, research suggests.

Scientists have confirmed a link between lightning and headaches and migraines.

A study found that lightning striking up to 25 miles away can increase the risk of headache by 31%. Thunderbolts also led to a 28% increased risk of migraine attacks.

US researchers looked at 90 chronic headache sufferers with an average age of 44 living in Ohio and Missouri.

All had conditions that fulfilled the criteria for migraines defined by the International Headache Society.


Research suggests that there are a number of ways in which lightning might trigger headaches

Participants recorded their headache experiences in a daily journal for three to six months.

During this time, scientists recorded lightning strikes within 25 miles of people's homes. The magnitude and polarity of the lightning current was also measured.

Geoffrey Martin, from the University of Cincinnati, who co-led the research, said: "Many studies show conflicting findings on how weather, including elements like barometric pressure and humidity, affect the onset of headaches. However, this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches."

Mr Martin, a medical student, conducted the study with his father Vincent, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati and headache expert.

Prof Martin said there were a number of ways in which lightning might trigger headaches.


He explained: "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."

The research, published in the online edition of the International Headache Society journal Cephalalgia, showed that negatively charged lightning currents were particularly associated with headaches.

When the scientists adjusted their results to take account of other weather factors linked to thunderstorms, they still found a 19% increased risk of headaches on lightning days.

"This suggests that lightning has its own unique effect on headache," said Prof Martin.

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  • How To Ease, Treat And Prevent Migraines

  • Prescribed Medication

    If you suffer from regular migraines, your doctor might prescribe you acute (treatment) and prophylactic (prevention) medicine. You may be given the following: <strong>Anticonvulsant</strong>, such as divaloproex sodium (sodium valproate), topiramate or gabapentin <strong>Antidepressant</strong>, such as amitriptyline <strong>Antihistimine</strong>, such as cyproheptadine <strong>Beta-blockers</strong>, such as propranolol, metoprolol, timolol, nadolol <strong>Anti-inflammatory drug</strong>, such as pizotefen Not all medication has to be prescibred as you can get the following non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) over-the-counter: Apisrin Ibuprofen Paracetamol Codeine

  • Self-Help

    If you don't want to take medication and prefer to treat the problem mechanically, you can try the following at home: <strong>Change your temperature.</strong> Try applying an icepack, or a hot water bottle, to the painful area. Hot or cold showers and a long soak in the bath does help some sufferers, or try soaking the hands and feet in hot or cold water. <strong>Apply pressure.</strong> Try applying pressure to the pulse points on the side of the forehead or neck to relieve the headache. <strong>Moderate exercise.</strong> Experts claim that easy exercise, like swimming and brisk walking, can have a therapeutic effect on migraines. <strong>Keep a diary.</strong> Note down symptoms, date and time of attacks and what you've eaten and drunk. This will help you identify possible triggers.

  • Salt Supply

    Lack of sodium can be pinpointed as a cause of migraines and could explain why migraine sufferers crave a salty snack after an attack. In moderation, salt can have health benefits, so if you feel the onset of a migraine developing, add a tiny amount of salt into a glass of water and sip slowly.

  • Complementary Therapy

    Some migraine sufferers swear by complementary treatments like the following: <strong>Acupuncture.</strong> A type of alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of thin needles in the body, stimulating the anatomical locations under the skin called acupuncture points. <strong>Chiropractic.</strong> Helps treat and prevent neuromusculoskeletal condition by manipulating the spine, joints and soft tissue. <strong> Homoeopathy.</strong> A form of alternative natural medicine that treats patients with liquid 'remedies' that apparently help relieve pain. <strong>Herbalism.</strong> An old traditional form of medicine made entirely of plants and plant extracts which help relieve pain and discomfort from within.

  • Drink More

    It sounds obvious, but a big cause of migraines is down to dehydration. It's currently recommended that people drink between six to eight glasses of water a drink to help keep the body functioning properly.

  • Botox

    Botox injections were licensed in 2010 to be used on people suffering from severe headaches and migraines. Although the evidence surrounding this treatment is still inconclusive, previous clinical trials have proved that it makes a difference if administered regularly. The treatment is currently available privately and costs between £400 to £600.

His son added: "This study gives some insight into the tie between headaches or migraines, lightning and other meteorologic factors.

"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."

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