Use of Barometric Pressure Data in the Management of Migraine
This March 2015 migraine blog below is now my primary blog on this topic. I also give away FREE access codes to the Elecont eWeather HD app:
Migraine and weather related headaches affect some 15% or more of the population. In more recent years, much has been written about the connection between weather patterns and headache, where falling barometric pressure and rising humidity can often trigger migraine headaches, which are “low pressure” headaches characterized by dilated blood vessels in the brain. The most popular over the counter migraine medicine, Excedrin, then combines aspirin or Tylenol with caffeine (as a vasoconstrictor) to combat this medical sequel of dilated blood vessels. But, it is helpful to know during initial onset of a headache, if it in fact is barometric pressure induced so that you choose the right medicine and treatment.
I personally live with the medical condition hydrocephalus, and as a neuroscientist, I provide patient consults, neurological monitoring, advise on the role of technology, and provide drum circle workshops for health & wellness. Still, for me and so many other Americans, migraine headache and weather related triggers, pose regular challenges. So I turn to technology for a solution.
Over the last several years, I have come to use two separate weather sources for obtaining the much needed correlating weather data. They are:
Elecont is a high tech mobile phone weather app It’s $4.99 on Android and $3.99 on Apple stores. I have FREE access codes to download the Android version.
The barometric pressure data that these sites and apps offer is then extraordinarily useful in monitoring and pain management of migraine headaches, especially in hydrocephalus. I’ve inserted 3 weather data photos here, if they load correctly. They include a jpeg image of barometric pressure up thru 6pm on March 23, 2014, showing a rapid rise in pressure between 8am and 11am, which can trigger a high pressure headache, which would be more unique I think for persons with hydrocephalus. At 11am, I felt it likely was the trigger of that headache on that morning. Also, a 2nd bit of data that was helpful was the rising humidity at 11am, known to also act as a trigger for headache.
I didn’t save the inserted until about 6pm that day, which shows the pressure leveling off by 12 noon. This leveling also corresponded to a leveling off of my headache, though it took 2-3 hours, or around 3pm. I had been noticing over the last several months that I was suffering from headaches often as the barometric pressure was rising. So when I saw the big spike by 11am, I knew I was in for a rough headache day, and adjusted my medication & activity schedule accordingly. I was happy that the pressure leveled off and stayed level for the afternoon, as it allowed my headache to dissipate by 3pm.
More often, migraine will be triggered by “falling” barometric pressure. There is specific diagnostic significance for those who might experience headache during a rising barometric pressure. I can’t advise you here without any supporting medical history. So I recommend you speak to your neurologist or neurosurgeon as to the significance of your pressure correlation.
In hydrocephalus, a headache from rising pressure would indicate either an increased sensitivity to pressure changes from hydrocephalus that is not well arrested after shunting or ETV, and/or during periods of increased intracranial pressure, or ICP. It is conceivable that a headache response from a high pressure weather front might also indicate “shunt malfunction” in hydrocephalus, should you not normally get a headache from rising pressure. what was also significant in my case on this day, is that as soon as the pressure leveled off, so did my headache, though by about two hours. The dissipation with leveling pressure also served to confirm the weather correlation. As I’ve been using this weather data for 3-4 years now, the correlation then served as biofeedback in management experience.
I am working on developing a mobile app for hydrocephalus monitoring, called the DiaCeph Test, which will incorporate weather data in the interface and during monitoring, to correlate and help in management of headache from barometric pressure weather changes. I first applied for patent for my DiaCeph Test way back in 1997, and was considered a visionary for this, and apps did not yet exist. It was going to run as a stand-alone PDA. So, I was one of the earliest pioneers of mobile apps, before they were even possible. Also around that time, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and Henry Ford Center in Detroit, introduced a software method of monitoring sports concussion, called the Impact Test.
Please contact me if you are interested in helping to develop these neurological apps.
May you ride out your headaches like a surfer thru a wave!