Everything you need to know about air pressure headaches (and what to do about them)

Neurologist Gisela Terwindt is not familiar with the term ‘barometric pressure headache’, but sees many headache-sensitive patients who report on weather conditions as a trigger for their headache. “Sudden weather changes, such as thunderstorms, can be a trigger for migraineurs.” She also points to research from the LUMC into ‘space headache’. “Astronauts get headaches on launch or in space. This may be due to the enormous pressure changes.”

Can this headache be prevented?

Suppose you suffer from this, can it be prevented? “Unfortunately, you can’t change much about the weather,” say Spaink and Terwindt. “In the coming years, we want to do more research and let migraine sufferers keep E-headache diaries through our proprietary app to discover their personal triggers.” The neurologist warns that overuse of headache medication before a thunderstorm is pointless.

Terwindt points out that you should not avoid alleged triggers. “Thunderstorms can be a trigger, but sometimes people think the same about certain foods. They then suddenly stop eating cheese or chocolate because they think it will provoke an attack, even though they have not looked into this properly. It is better to first check with an E-diary whether there is a relationship between the trigger and your headache.”

In addition to sudden weather changes, a changed air pressure can also arise when you go up in height. “We know that the higher people get, the higher the risk of headaches. As is the case with altitude sickness. So prepare well when you visit the high mountains, because there are pills against altitude sickness. And make sure you don’t climb too fast, you sometimes have to acclimatize for a few days.”

Read alsoMore than a headache: what do you as an employee and employer do with migraine?

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