This blog discusses the common causes of migraine headache, what you can do on your own to manage it, how to use the Elecont eWeather HD app for advanced warning of changes in barometric pressure that may trigger weather induced migraine headaches in you, and a brief review of the “Migraine Buddy” and “Headache Diary Pro” apps for migraine. As of May 10, 2016, I am able to give away Google Promo codes for FREE Android downloads of the app.
This blog was updated Jan. 11, 2017 with info on:
1. How to select notifications & alerts for changes in barometric pressure related to migraine headache, with screenshots, and
2. My personal preferences for barometric pressure indicators on my eWeather app
Blog updated Oct. 19, 2016 with info on:
1. Screenshots and new instructions on installing the app from Google Promo codes.
2. Discussion and review of several top migraine apps.
3. Discussion and links from new Excedrin migraine and weather information.
4. Updated information on the role that sound/noise and sensory processing disorder (SPD) plays in migraine headache.
Weather changes with a sharp drop in barometric pressure can often trigger a migraine headache in pressure sensitive individuals with a history of neurological disorders such as hydrocephalus, post tumor, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, sensory processing disorder or SPD, and person’s with a history of anxiety attacks and migraine. The sharp drop in barometric pressure during weather change often acts as a trigger of migraine. Weather apps and web sites can provide advanced warnings of changes in barometric pressure, so affected individuals can adjust their activities and medications. I’ve found the eWeather HD app to be the most convenient as it forecasts barometric pressure both 24 hours ahead, and the past 24 hours, in a easy to read graphic format. The app highlights steep rising and falling of barometric pressure, and can alert you via its icon on the taskbar of your phone.
I am a migraine sufferer today as a result of 24 years and 12 CNS shunt surgeries for hydrocephalus. In this blog, I discuss a real migraine headache event, and how I used the eWeather HD to help me better through it. Had it not been for the Elecont eWeather app, I likely would have been down for the entire afternoon. And as of May 2016, I am able to give away free Google Promo codes from the eWeather HD app developer, a $4.95 value.
My name is Stephen Dolle and I am a neuroscientist and author of this blog. I write and consult on mHealth, brain health, and the disorder hydrocephalus. I also live with hydrocephalus, and regularly suffer migraines, and have been an eWeather HD app user since 2012.
My mHealth app experience spans a 1997 design of an application for hydrocephalus (DiaCeph Test) to run on a PDA, which unfortunately I was not able to get funding for. However, I continue to provide a number of FREE monitoring forms and instructions so individuals and families can do their own monitoring. Since 2009, I’ve been providing Hydrocephalus Monitoring & Consults to patients affected by hydrocephalus (link to blog & services is below). I am also a CNS shunt device scientist. I can also provide consults to mobile app developers and others wishing to develop mHealth apps. My DiaCeph Test today could be made into a mobile data app with sufficient funding and/or partners.
Since 2012, I’ve also been applying my mHealth expertise to migraine care and weather monitoring of migraine headaches using both weather apps and web sites. I have also evaluated mobile apps for pain management monitoring. Since 2014, I found the eWeather HD app the best mobile app tool for monitoring barometric pressure weather triggers, and in 2016 I reached out to the developer for free downloads to give away to my blog followers. Migraine headaches are also very common in hydrocephalus, which I have been living with since 1992. So these eWeather HD efforts also benefit my own health.
I also put on drum circles in Orange County, California, as a therapy for medical conditions, and for events, icebreakers, and organizations interested in team-building (like drumming in the workplace pictured above). Medical conditions and organizations I’ve helped include: National Hydrocephalus Foundation, National Parkinson’s Foundation, cerebral palsy/autism, drug & alcohol addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, movement disorders, sensory processing disorder (SPD), schizophrenia, weight loss, and general health & wellness. I also write blogs on drumming and movement topics, including, drumming for basketball and football. Drumming can improve one’s intolerance to sound and stress, which are common triggers of migraine headache, and stress also plays a key role in sensitivity to noise in sensory processing disorder (SPD). Drumming, exercises, and yoga also help offset cerebral hypotension, the mechanism most often responsible for migraine headache. My blogs below detail how drumming aids wellness, stress reduction, and migraine disorders.
How to use the eWeather HD App for Management of Migraine Headache
The Elecont eWeather HD app is an excellent mHealth tool & mobile app for managing migraine headache. I have been using the app since about 2012, while also using several online weather sites. As Elecont made updates to its app, by 2014 it became my weather site/app of choice.
With my January 11, 2017 update, I added further information on how to set up alerts & notifications on Android devices for changes in barometric pressure – via the OPTIONS section of the eWeather HD app – please note barometric pressure ALERTS are not yet available for the iTunes version.
For Android devices, you have (3) ALERT options for how you get notified of changes in barometric pressure. Below are the Android screenshots for setting up ALERTS in the eWeather HD program. (For Apple/iTunes devices, you can view changes in pressure via the red-alerted barometric pressure graph in the app, and via display of the pressure graph icon on your phone’s taskbar & widget if set up).
- VIEW GRAPHS: View the graphs by clicking on the app or widget on your home screen. The program is configured by default to turn the barometric pressure graph “red” when there is a rise or fall of more than 0.20 Hg (I think). The default graph will look like the graph in the screenshot just further below. This shows the pressure for the last 24hr in Hg. The far right edge of the graph is current time, and the far left edge of the graph represents 24hr earlier. To see the next 24hr forecast, press the tiny round red “in” button in the top right corner of the screen. Press it again, and it returns to the current 24hr graph. Scroll the screen to the “right” to see an hourly all weather forecast, and scroll to the right again to see the 10 day weather forecast. Scroll again and it comes back to the home screen.
- VIEW ICON: View the pressure graph “icon” in either the notifications bar on the top of your phone’s screen, or in the lower right corner of Elecont 2×2 widget screen. I have both set up. The icon is a tiny display of the graph. When the pressure is substantially rising or falling, it will turn to red and be sloped accordingly.
- AUDIBLE ALERT: You have the option to get an “audible alert” or notification when the change in barometric pressure exceeds a range you select. I personally do not use the audible alerts. I view icon in two places on my screen. And then several times a day I click on the app, where I immediately see the larger pressure graph, and then click on the “in” button in the top right corner to view the next 24 hours forecast.
The eWeather app has many customizable options for notifications, and for setting up your home screen widget with custom hourly weather clock. Select the “status bar notification” option to set up your audible and screen icon notifications. To access the OPTIONS panel, press the “open menu” button on your phone, and scroll down to “options” near the bottom of the list. This is where you will set up the weather and barometric pressure alert information for your task bar & widget. First, select the “Alerts” option near the top of the options panel (not pictured in the screenshot below as it’s a long panel).
Click on the “Alerts” option near the top of the panel, and check the boxes like in the screenshot below.
Next, go to the main OPTIONS panel and select the “Status Bar Notification” in the lower portion of the panel. Select “Pressure Changes” like in the next screen.
Then check the appropriate boxes under “Pressure Changes” and select whether you want to receive an “audible notification” like in the screen below.
You are done with setting up alerts & notifications. For help in setting up the eWeather app widget, refer to “frequently asked questions” section under “About” on the OPTIONS panel.
The eWeather App provides 24-hour advance notice of rapid changes in barometric pressure, which you can use to help manage your migraine headaches. Knowing adverse data in advance, will allow you to make the necessary changes in your schedule, medication, exercise, and hydration to possibly head off a migraine attack. Moderating exercise, hydration, and medication other tips is discussed further in this blog.
eWeather HD App Migraine Headache Case Study
Below, is my own eWeather App case study from a migraine headache episode I suffered in 2015 that forced me to stop working, and lay down it became so severe.
And as I lay there, I clicked on the widget of my Elecont eWeather HD app, where I could see I was in the midst of a very sharp fall in barometric pressure (screen image below). The app showed a “9 pt. drop” in only an hour – which is a very significant drop. It is the “rapid drop” in barometric pressure that is the most common trigger of migraine headache, next to stress.
My next step was to perform a valsalva (breath pressure) maneuver – which I use in my hydrocephalus and migraine care, to test my response to a temporary increase in brain blood pressure (BP) and intracranial pressure (ICP). If you’re experiencing a (hypotension) migraine from rapidly falling barometric pressure, often times valsalva maneuvers and changes in posture (up & down) over a 20 minute period, can provide some relief.
To do a valsalva maneuver, simply hold your breath for a few seconds while straining as though you were lifting something. Then note the change in your headache during the maneuver. If it feels relieving, that suggests your headache is due to low pressure or a “cerebral hypotension” brain state. If there is no change, that would suggests either your headache is unrelated to weather pressure, or your pressure is so low that the valsalva did not counter your low pressure enough. If your headache worsens with this valsalva straining, that would suggests hypertension & elevated BP and/or ICP, and you should discontinue any further straining maneuvers.
With my migraine on that day, I got headache relief almost immediately from the valsalva pressure maneuver, and continued to perform these low pressure offsetting maneuvers. As I’ve used the app for several years, I knew today’s drop in pressure was unusual and steep. The eWeather App also changes the color of the graph to “red” during a steep rise or fall in barometric pressure. I put 2+2 together, and I concluded the sudden drop in pressure was likely the cause of my migraine headache.
I stayed supine for almost an hour, while continuing to perform 2-3 valsalva maneuvers each 10-15 minutes. Within 30-45 minutes, I was feeling like new! I also soon observed the barometric pressure to level off on my app’s display. Below is my screen image:
Weather Web Sites
Weather web sites also offer some barometric pressure information. Prior to the Elecont HD weather app, I primarily used two online weather sites. Weather Underground lists barometric pressure forecast data, but only 6 hours of forecast data the last time I looked.
Two weather web sites I used in the past include Weather Underground and Weather For You. For these, you need to put in your zip code or city to view the weather panel for your area. They list a table and graph options for weather data. Weather Underground gives 6 hour forecasts ahead on barometric pressure.
Medical Science behind Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches are typically due to cerebral hypotension, where blood vessels in the brain become dilated, resulting in low blood pressure in the brain, and then headache. During weather change, a sudden falling of barometric pressure can leave you further vulnerable to cerebral hypotension. And it is the rapidly falling barometric pressure that is often the trigger of a migraine. Menstruation, and its associated blood loss, can also contribute/help trigger cerebral hypotension and migraine.
Knowing the cause of your migraine will help you best treat it. In the case of my migraine on this day, it was the sudden drop in barometric pressure that induced my headache. My quick assessment of its cause, then allowed me to undertake swift intervention.
Valsalva maneuvers and laying down preferably in a dark or quiet room, is a common treatment in migraine. But some may also need medication. You should keep watch on the barometric pressure during a migraine to confirm that it is stabilizing.
Weather related headaches affect some 15% or more of the world’s population. Migraine is also common in the disorder, hydrocephalus. Migraine headaches are also passed on thru family genetics.
Much has been written about the connection between weather and migraine headache. The popular over the counter medicine, Excedrin, combines aspirin or Tylenol with caffeine (a vasoconstrictor) to offset dilated blood vessels (cerebral hypotension) which is the most common scientific explanation for migraine headache. Excedrin helps both with pain and constricting of the dilated blood vessels. For this reason, Excedrin is uniquely helpful in the treatment of weather related migraine. Below, is a web page Excedrin has published on the weather-migraine connection.
The Mayo Clinic hosts a nice web site section on migraine:
Self Care of Migraine Headache
The above Smithsonian Magazine article primarily discusses the feasibility of whether the Migraine Buddy app can predict migraine headache. For more on this, SEE my review and comparison of the Migraine Buddy app and Headache Diary Pro and how each can integrate with the eWeather HD app further below.
I have written much about how to use mHealth apps, home treatment, and prevention of medical disorders. And migraine can be better managed by following my tips in this section.
One simple technique is to have a cup of coffee or tea right before onset of a migraine. Caffeine acts to constrict dilated blood vessels in the brain, and can also be used prophylacticly head off an onset of migraine and cerebral hypotension – before a big headache strikes. Similarly, exercises like yoga, which involve frequent changes in posture (eg. standing to lying down), can can help to normalize cerebral hypotension and your brain’s ill-fated response to falling barometric pressure.
Another more pragmatic remedy that helps me is rapid hydration with water (two to four 12 oz. glasses) over a 15-30 minute interval at first onset of symptoms. The water helps raise blood pressure (BP) and infuse fresh blood and nutrients into the brain. Other remedies include changing postures from standing to laying down over 30 sec to 2 minute intervals, and light exercise with short interval BP surges. This helps to flex the tiny blood vessels in the brain most responsible for migraine. Regular exercise also improves your intolerance to cerebral hypotension. PRECAUTION: Should you suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease – you should consult with your doctor before doing these physical exertion exercises.
Once a migraine event has begun, it is recommended you lay down supine for at least 15-20 minutes to raise your brain’s blood pressure and help offset the hypotensive state.
Loud/monotonous sounds, stress, other illness, and poor sleep can also leave you more susceptible to migraines. Many migraine sufferers also suffer from SPD or “sensory processing disorder,” and become overly sensitive to loud ertatic sounds. It’s important during a migraine, to remove yourself from sources of light, sound, and commotion as best you can, as it helps calm the brain. The following is a detailed blog I’ve authored on sensory processing disorder:
Women during menstruation are also more susceptable to migraine from the slight blood loss causing a hypotensive state. Coupled with a drop in barometric pressure, if you are a woman common to this syndrome, menstruation and barometric pressure drop can send you into a full migraine crisis. To offset this, you should drink extra fluids during menstruation.
Migraine sufferers should also limit intake of alcohol, as this can lead to dehydration, and alteration of brain neurotransmitters. Also limit foods with high fat and sugar content as this compromises healthy circulation in the brain. You will likely see a noticeable difference in frequency and severity of your migraines just by altering your intake of alcohol, fat, and sugars.
To help reduce sensitivity to changes in barometric pressure, regular exercise like yoga can help brain compliance and cerebral blood flow. Breath work and meditation also help improve blood flow in the brain, and your stress response. Drumming is an excellent exercise as it also reduces stress. Weight lifting, sports, walking, and all exercise helps improve blood flow in the brain, that can offset migraines. Below, the Mayo Clinic web site offers some info on migraine.
For many migraine sufferers, weather related triggers pose regular challenges. Here I personally have found the eWeather HP app to be an excellent mHealth tool for alerting you of coming changes in barometric pressure. Managing migraine, and its many different causes, can be a complex health challenge. So you should be discussing the eWeather HP app and other details ith your doctor.
My initial blog on weather monitoring for migraine was in 2014. In that blog, I shared my experiences on the use of weather web sites and the eWeather app. But the eWeather Elecont app has become the best tool for managing weather induced migraine headache.
With the condition hydrocephalus, which I live with, a headache during rising pressure could also indicate an early sign of shunt malfunction, signal an improperly programmed CNS shunt, or be a sign you’re not yet stable following shunting or ETV. As a significant headache [during high barometric pressure] could indicate “shunt malfunction,” you should take this up with your doctor.
How to obtain a FREE Android eWeather HD Download via Google Promo code
The Google Promo code for the Elecont eWeather HD App is a $4.99 value. Per the developer, no free downloads are available for Apple devices. I strongly encourage you READ my entire blog after downloading the eWeather HD app. To obtain a FREE Google Promo code, follow these instructions:
Download Instructions for Google Promo code for FREE Android download
1. Email me at contact [at] dollecommunications [dot] com – and I will email you back your code usually within a couple hours, but most always within 24 hours.
2. Once you’ve obtained your “Google Promo code,” go to the Google Play store and search for eWeather HD app (or similarly follow the link in my email). I’ve heard mixed feedback as to whether you SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be signed in.
3. Next click and open up the app – and you should see a panel as in STEP1 below. Click on INSTALL.
4. You should now be given the option to buy with a Google Promo code. Do not select BUY if you’re signed in as the $4.99 might be billed to your Google account. You need to be at the REDEEM YOUR CODE panel as seen in STEP2 below. For some users, you may need to sign out of Google Play store in order to see the REDEEM YOUR CODE panel.
5. Next, enter the Google Promo code I emailed you and select REDEEM. Then select ACCEPT. You should immediately see the app installing.
If you wish to directly purchase the eWeather HD app for Android devices at the Android store, follow this link:
If you wish to directly purchase the eWeather HD app for Apple devices at the Apple/iTunes play store, here is the link – plus SEE the installation screenshots and link to Elecont’s customer support page for Apple installs below:
And here’s the eWeather Apple app screenshot of its barometric pressure graph once the app is installed and operational.
Android Mobile Apps for Home Care of Migraine Headache
This section compares two leading Android mobile “migraine” apps I have used for home care of migraine headache, and can offer my insights. These apps would need to be used in addition to the eWeather HD app as neither provides any monitoring or alerts on changes in barometric pressure. Headache Diary Pro vs Migraine Buddy. I use the “pro” version of Headache Diary, and the “free” and only version of Migraine Buddy. They are nearly identical in application, but differ in their UI panel and usability. Where Headache Diary Pro provides all the necessary monitoring and migraine reports, Migraine Buddy charges a monthly or yearly subscription for their reports. I find the Migraine Buddy a more detailed and user friendly program. But you would need to have a significant migraine problem to spend $9 per month or $90 per year.
My recommendation as to your individual use of the eWeather HD and above apps is based on the severity of your migraine issue as to the degree that it impairs your quality of life. That should determine how much time and money you may want to spend on these.
eWeather HD app: If you are certain that your migraines are often triggered by changes in weather, then this app is a must for you. You may also want to download one of the migraine apps if your condition poses significant to quality of life. The eWeather HD app is not too difficult and time consuming to set up. And it offers many other weather features such as 10-day weather forecasts, live radar, weather alerts, and earthquake alerts, to name a few.
Headache Diary Pro: I have used this app for several years and find it very adequate for recording and storing migraine data to later print out when you see your doctor. It’s fairly simple to use. And I don’t believe there are any other additional costs to use.
Migraine Buddy: The Migraine Buddy is perhaps the newest mHealth design of any of the migraine apps I’ve looked at. I downloaded it today and ran it thru a trial headache event. While I favor its UI interface over the other migraine apps, I am not willing to pay a monthly or year subscription fee to get the results. This is a decision only each of you can make as to how migraine affects your quality of life, and what you are willing to do to possible better manage it.
If money weren’t an issue, I’d likely choose Migraine Buddy. But be forewarned, both the Migraine Buddy and Headache diary Pro (and likely all the other migraine apps) require a significant investment of your time. If you suffer daily headaches from hydrocephalus as I do, one of these two apps can be helpful. But, the more time and thought you give to your headaches, the more they seem to take up space in your mind. This goes the same for pain and pain management too. Below is the Manage My Pain Pro app I have tried and found helpful for pain management, though time consuming.
Mobile Health Apps for Hydrocephalus
As I have written about the use of mobile apps for migraine headache, I wanted to also share some more specific applications I’ve written about for persons with hydrocephalus. Two of the most common apps I use (Metal/EMF Detector, Decibel Meter) can be found on the Smart Tools web site. I’ve used these apps for several years and find them helpful in managing hydrocephalus and SPD related complaints. I also now have a special blog of apps and tips for living with hydrocephalus below.
Metal Detector – This EMF app is handy for measuring magnetic fields in your surroundings from various electronic devices & household appliances should you have a programmable CNS shunt for hydrocephalus. I personally have used the Smart Tools Metal Detector for 4 years and find it accurate and helpful.
Sound Meter – Decibeter meter apps measure the loudness of sound around you should you be sensitive to sounds as a result of hydrocephalus, autism, and other disorders that often lead to sensory processing disorder, or SPD. I personally use the Smart Tools decibel meter app and find it accurate and helpful.
Apps & Web Sites Discussed in this Blog
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and found health tips to help in managing your migraines. If I can be of any specific help in mHealth design, use of these apps, hydrocephalus care & monitoring, drum circles for wellness and brain health, or speaking on these topics, please contact me via the information below. Feel free to save my Contact Card.
Tel. (949) 642-4592