Change in Weather, Red Wine May Trigger Migraine

Many people report that changes in weather trigger a migraine, and much research has been conducted on the migraine-weather connection. A small, recent study has added to the information on this issue and found that weather can, in fact, trigger a migraine, especially for those people who are sensitive to temperature.

For the study, 66 people with a history of migraine maintained a headache log for a year, with roughly half the participants noting they were sensitive to temperature. Researchers found, however, that change in weather was responsible for migraine 21% of the time, and that cold weather was more often a problem than warm weather. Typically, the change in weather was associated with mild migraines and was linked to severe migraine in only 5% of the cases.

“The study provides pioneering evidence that headaches are associated more with temperature among those with subjective temperature sensitivity than those without,” said study lead author Dr. Shuu-Jiun Wang, deputy head of the Neurological Institute at Taipei Veterans General Hospital and a professor of neurology at National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine in Taipei, Taiwan.

He noted the study has important clinical applications. “If patients report temperature sensitivity, physicians should pay more attention and may adjust preventive agents in certain seasons … for these patients,” he said.

This research was presented at the recent meeting of the American Headache Society in Los Angeles and has not yet been published.

At the same meeting, a presentation cast light on another potential migraine trigger: red wine.

A small study in Brazil found that red wines sometimes do cause migraines, but some varieties seem to be worse offenders than others.

For the study, 33 people, mostly women, who drank red wine regularly and had suffered from migraine in the past were asked to drink half a bottle of several varieties of red wine—Malbec, Tannat, Cabernet, Sauvignon and Merlot—at least four days apart. Eighty-eight percent developed a migraine within 12 hours of drinking the wine, but Tannat and Malbac were linked to the highest number of migraines, with 52% of the study participants developing a migraine after drinking Tannat and 48% doing so after drinking Malbac. These varieties have higher levels of tannins, which are flavonoids responsible for the bitterness and color in wine.

The study was led by Abouch Krymchantowski, MD, the director and founder of the Headache Center in Rio de Janeiro. He noted when red wine is a migraine trigger and the individuals still wish to drink it, they should choose varieties with the lowest amount of tannins.