If you feel that you are experiencing headaches whenever there’s a shift in climate or weather, you might be experiencing what is called a barometric pressure headache. This kind of headache can be quite tricky as it mainly doesn’t affect everyone. There are individuals who are prone to having these types of headaches especially when there is a change in altitude.
The severity of the headache may differ from one person to the next. There is a chance that the person experiencing a barometric headache is only going to experience moderate pain while there are those that experience debilitating pain.
The reason behind having a barometric pressure headache is not yet fully understood even today. However, it can still be a problem especially for people who are dealing with this condition. There are some common reasons why people experience these headaches. One, it is possible that the headache is due to the fact that the sinuses are filled with air. This means that a change in pressure in the air can drastically affect the direction of the air on the sinus which affects triggers the discomfort.
This is also the reason why a lot of barometric headaches are usually felt in the temples and in areas where the sinus is located. It can be like the same pain as a frontal headache in some ways. The headache occurs mainly due to the changes in the temperature and altitude.
It is also believed that the main cause is the fact that the blood vessels need to adjust its size in order to compensate for the oxygen levels when a person is at high or low altitude.
Barometric Pressure and Headaches
In a study, it has been discovered that migraines have a higher chance of occurring whenever there are changes not only in altitude but also in weather. A lot of researchers in the past believe that it is only pressure alone that can trigger migraine attacks. However, newer studies have pointed towards weather factors affecting how a person starts to develop constant headaches.
In order to understand barometric pressure and headaches, it is imperative having an understanding of the simplest concept that pressure is affected by both altitude and temperature. And since the blood has oxygen you can expect that it can affect the blood vessels. Blood vessels have to compensate in order to deliver blood to the brain. And with an abrupt change in altitude, this type of headache is expected.
The sinus(1) is also a common area that is affected by barometric pressure given the fact that it is filled with air. It is a common occurrence to experience numbness in the face and neck whenever you are affected by this kind of headache. Also, there are cases wherein pain is located in both temples and the sinuses. Nausea and vomiting may also be expected.
The severity of this problem may differ from one individual to the other. Ideally, people who are sensitive to changes in weather and pressure should take note of the severity of the symptoms and the deviations in the pressure and temperature.
Pain in Different Areas of the Head
As mentioned, the pain that is felt by one individual to the next may differ in severity. Because there is really no conclusive and standalone theory what causes barometric pressure headache pain, it is important to note that there are a number of areas in the head where the pain can be located. For some experts that believe that it is primarily the sinus that is affected, the pain is expected in the maxillary region and even in the forehead.
On the other hand, for those who believe that the one causing barometric pressure headache pain is due to the blood vessels adjusting to the oxygen level due to elevation, then the source of pain can be distributed from the head even to the neck region.
However, there is also a tendency that people suffering from a migraine might be affected by barometric pressure headache worse than other individuals. Because of the change in atmospheric pressure, barometric pressure lowers which then turns air to press outward putting pressure on the sinuses. This could trigger migraines and could mean that someone might even feel severe pain caused by changes in altitude or in temperature.
The good news is that it isn’t always the case. There are instances wherein the headache is just bothersome but not really debilitating to the point that an individual has to skip his or her work. A lot of people experiencing changes in elevation don’t even find themselves in this kind of problem.
Because barometric pressure headache is quite vague, it is important for an individual to pay attention to the details. It is also important that the person pays attention to other types of headaches that he or she experiences. This way, it is easier to tell your medical practitioner how the headache felt and how it happened.
Prevention and Elevation Changes
Preventive measures for barometric pressure headache can be quite simple. For starters, it is important to stay away from changes in elevation or diving in deep waters. This can disrupt the pressure that your body is used to and therefore could trigger the headache. You also want to take things slow in case you are planning to dive or hike. You may want to not perform deep-sea diving activities abruptly. Instead, you want to train in shallow waters first. It is also ideal that you choose mountains with lower elevations too.
In addition to this, it is imperative you avoid abrupt changes in temperature. Staying in an air-conditioned room and directly going under the heat of the sun in the afternoon can also cause barometric pressure headache.
Another great preventive measure that is suggested for a lot of people dealing with a pressure headache is to use a humidifier or an ionizer. However, you shouldn’t add moisture in the air if you are living in a humid place.
It may also be a good idea to try to acclimatize for a few days before undergoing physical activities in elevated areas or in areas with a climate that you are not used to. You want to give your body enough time to adjust. However, this isn’t a guarantee that you are going to prevent the barometric pressure headache discomfort completely.
These are just some of the most popular methods how a lot of people try to prevent discomfort that they feel whenever they already know that they are prone to having barometric pressure headache pain.
Barometric Pressure Headache Treatment
There are different kinds of treatments that can be done when you are experiencing barometric headache. It can range from the simplest to the most invasive options. However, it is quite common that doctor simply provides medications that can be bought even without a prescription.
What most doctors ask is the severity of the condition. For instance, if you are already dealing with a migraine caused by changes in temperature and elevation, it is best to take strong pain medications.
However, normally, the treatment for this type of condition could range from acetaminophen, ibuprofen and even excedrin.
There are also some prescription medications that can be used in order to address the pain and discomfort. The likes of triptans, ergotamines, and even opioids are commonly used especially for patients that are dealing with a migraine.
But of course, it is also important to take note of the different precautions that patients should know whenever they are medicating for their barometric pressure headaches pain. Opioids can be addictive and may not always be the best solution when it comes to treating the discomfort.
There are worst-case scenarios when it comes to barometric pressure headache. In these cases, it is important to weigh your options. There are even some doctors that suggest the use of botox injections and even nerve decompression surgery if the problem is recurring and is chronic. But of course, this isn’t something that you always expect. You also have to weigh your options because this is considered an extreme measure and an invasive option.
You may also want to choose the food that you eat if you are going to be experiencing barometric pressure headaches. It is highly suggested that you stay away from caffeinated drinks for several reasons. One, it is possible that caffeine can cause vasoconstriction. Since barometric pressure headache is known to affect the blood vessels in order to compensate for the thin air in the atmosphere, this could further decrease your brain’s supply of oxygen which could even worsen the symptoms of barometric pressure headaches.
In a lot of scenarios, rest is also needed to help the body recover. This can help relax the blood vessels and provide relief. It is all about knowing how your body reacts to the changes in temperature and air pressure that gives you the idea how to treat them.
If you also decide to go to your doctor, be sure that you know the details of what transpired during the headache episode. Be sure to take note of the elevation, the weather changes and the things that you have felt. It is also important to provide information regarding your history of a migraine in order for your medical practitioner to provide the appropriate medication if needed.
It is also quite common that some doctors would request to run some tests in order to rule out some of the other causes of your discomfort. This way, it is easier for them to determine whether or not it is really a barometric headache that you are experiencing. In rare occasions, doctors would even suggest having CT scan and lumbar puncture.
Remedy and Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is quite simple. If you’ve suffered from this kind of condition, it is imperative that you know the triggers. Different people will experience different symptoms. Some people would even experience nausea and vomiting along with their barometric pressure headache. The point is to take note of the things that you have felt and record the temperature and elevation. These things can make a huge difference when it comes to implementing ways on how to lessen the severity of the headache.
It is imperative that you also determine what exactly causes the discomfort? Is it the high elevation or is it when you dive underwater? Could it be both? There are also scenarios wherein weather changes and sudden drop in temperature may already trigger the same kind of headache. By knowing these details, it becomes easier for you to avoid getting a headache.
It is also important that you know the food that you shouldn’t be eating if you are prone to triggering this headache. Caffeinated food ranging from chocolate to coffee and soda are just some of the drinks that you may want to stay away from when you are in high elevation. These foods and drinks can cause vasoconstriction that could easily cause you a headache.
Massage is also a great way to relieve discomfort in most occasions especially when the headache is originating from the sinuses. It is also a good idea to try relaxation techniques as a barometric pressure headaches remedy. In addition to this, you also want to drink 7 to 8 glasses of water in a day in order to avoid dehydration that further worsens headaches.
If you are also somewhat tired, it is best if you sleep a good number of hours. You may also want to take it slow if you just arrived in a place located at high altitude. You want to give your body enough time to adjust. One of the most common mistakes of hikers as well is to go after mountains of high altitude without training properly in a similar terrain and altitude. Drastic changes in the body could trigger this kind of headache.
Barometric pressure headache is quite vague. Even a lot of medical practitioners are still not sure really what causes it. Is it due to the fact that the body compensates for the lack of oxygen? Is it really the blood vessels that cause the headache? Or perhaps, it is similar to headaches that are sinus in origin? Both of these theories are accepted.
However, what you want is to know more how your body reacts to the changes in both temperature and pressure.
This makes it easier to describe the headache to your medical practitioner. It is important to tell the doctor all the details how the headache started in order to know the best medication and natural remedies that could be done in your situation.
There is also a possibility that the barometric changes may cause a more severe kind of headache such as migraines. This is quite common especially if you have the history of experiencing migraine episodes in the past.
There are people out there that have a constant headache or one that seems to never go away. If you are suffering from some these symptoms this could be a serious condition, very serious. These constant headaches could indicate a life threatening disease in some cases. That is the reason why we mention this, people who are suffering from these constant headaches need to seek out medical attention and make sure that it is not something more serious.