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The Science Behind Why Some People Get Headaches When It Rains

Claire Reid

| Last updated 

The Science Behind Why Some People Get Headaches When It Rains

As well as ruining your plans for a weekend barbecue, putting a downer on your day and wrecking your hair, the rain actually causes some people to have banging headaches.

If you're one of these people, then I feel bad for you. If you're not, it can feel a bit mystical. Surely some water falling from the sky can't cause people to have headaches? Come on.

But, it's all down to a change in pressure. Low pressure in the atmosphere, which is often the case when we're hit with thunderstorms, has been shown to cause headaches in some people.

A study, published in Neurology, involved scientists looking at over 7,000 people who had been diagnosed with headaches at a medical centre in Boston.

They compared the data they found with information from the National Weather Service, in which they checked out changes in temperature, humidity and pressure changes within 72 hours of the patient attending the clinic complaining of a headache.

And whatta ya know? The researchers found an increase of temperature increased the likelihood of getting a headache and that the chances of getting a headache increased by around six percent with every five millimetre drop in barometric pressure that occurred.

The researchers also found the risk of a severe headache increased by seven and a half percent for every 5C rise in temperature.

Kenneth Mukamal, who led the study, said: "Our results are consistent with the idea that severe headaches can be triggered by external factors. These findings tell us that the environment around us does affect our health and, in terms of headaches, may be impacting many, many people."


So, when there's a drop in pressure, some folk will find themselves with a splitting headache, and there's more likely to be a drop in pressure during 'unsettled weather conditions', according to the Met Office.

The bad news is, if you are one of these people, then there's very little you can do to change the weather. However, if you know that there's a pressure drop or a sharp rise in temperature due you can at least be prepared and make sure you've got painkillers, so that's something.

Featured Image Credit: The Simpsons/Fox

Topics: Met Office, Weather

Claire Reid
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