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A sizzling summer may be even more painful for migraine sufferers

Hunter Boyce, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Health & Fitness

As temperatures continue to rise, so will cases of migraine headaches. That’s the latest from a new study helmed by University of Cincinnati College of Medicine researchers.

The discovery comes just days before the official kickoff of summer.

With global temperatures more than 2 degrees warmer than the 20th century average, last year was Earth’s hottest on record. And May 2024 was a record-breaking month, marking the 12th consecutive month of record high temperatures.

According to Dr. Vincent Martin, MD, director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at University of Cincinnati’s Gardner Neuroscience Institute, president of the National Headache Foundation and lead author of the recent study, these temperatures are going to mean more painful headaches for some Georgia residents.

“Weather change is one of the most common trigger factors for migraine,” he said, according to a university news release.

The study, produced by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, tested the efficacy of a new preventive treatment on headaches caused by rising temperatures by cross-referencing regional weather data with 71,030 daily diary records of 6,060 migraine patients. The researchers discovered there was a 6% increase in headache occurrences for every 10 degrees the temperature warmed.

“What we found was that increases in temperature were a significant factor in migraine occurrence across all regions of the United States,” Martin said. “It’s pretty amazing because you think of all the varying weather patterns that occur across the entire country that we’re able to find one that is so significant.”

 

Migraines affect at least 39 million Americans, according to the American Migraine Foundation. The World Health Organization reported that headache disorders as a whole affect around 40% of the world population, or 3.1 billion people as of 2021.

Migraines are characterized by severe throbbing pain caused by the activation of nerve fibers within the wall of brain blood vessels. Left untreated, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke said attacks can last several hours or even days.

Those suffering from the condition often experience a sensitivity to light, noise and odors — as well as nausea and vomiting. Among the many possible migraine triggers, which range from hangovers to skipping a meal, the institute said a sudden change in weather is a common culprit.

“Hippocrates, the father of medicine, believed that weather and medicine were intimately linked,” former U.S. Department of Agriculture chief meteorologist and study co-author Al Peterlin told the university.

“A couple thousand of years later, we are proving that weather matters in human health,” he added.

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©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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