Lightning May Trigger Migraines



Photo Credit: Comstock
Photo Credit: Comstock
Lightning strikes may trigger migraines and headaches in regular sufferers. Published in the journal Cephalagia, a recent study found that changes in the air surrounding lightning may influence headaches.

A migraine is an intense headache that may occur along with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. According to The U.S. Library of Medicine, a migraine warning called an aura is a group of symptoms that signal a headache is coming. 

Doctors aren’t sure of the cause but migraines occur more often in women than men and they’re hereditary. 

The Weather and Headaches

In a recent study, researchers looked at data from 90 migraine sufferers from the St. Louis and Cincinnati area who kept diaries of their potential triggers for 3 to 6 months. 

LiveScience reports:

To find out, he looked at data from a separate study of 90 migraine sufferers, more than 90 percent of them women, from the St. Louis and Cincinnati areas who had kept a daily diary of all their potential triggers for three to six months.

The researchers then collected data on all lightning strikes in those areas. For each headache sufferer, a same-day lightning strike occurred within 25 miles of his or her ZIP code about 10 percent to 20 percent of the time, [Vincent] Martin, [a headache specialist at the University of Cincinnati] said.

Patients were 30 percent more likely to get a migraine and 28 percent more likely to get a general headache on lightning strike days. 

What You Can Control

Migraine sufferers often blame stress, a change in the seasons, alcohol, and diet for their throbbing headaches and this is just one more instigator for those dealing with tremendous headaches. 

While you might not be able to control the weather, there are steps that can help

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The National Headache Foundation suggests patients might want to limit their intake of tyramine, a chemical that occurs naturally in certain foods, to help control headaches. Here are some foods containing tyramine or other substances believed to be headache triggers:

-Aged, dried, and fermented meats and fishes, such as pepperoni and salami

-Aged cheeses, such as blue, Brie, Cheddar, provolone and others

-Fermented soy products, like miso, soy sauce and teriyaki sauce

-Beans, sauerkraut, pickles and olives

-Alcoholic beverages such as Chianti, sherry, burgundy, vermouth, ale and beer

-Foods containing as ingredients monosodium glutamate, nitrites and sulfites

Consider eliminating the foods above and seeing how you feel. For those with debilitating headaches, it’s worth the diet sacrifice rather than suffering as if you’ve had a pitcher of margaritas.  


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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.









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