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Temperature Sensitivity May Increase Migraine Frequency in Winter

Patients who experience migraine and tension-type headache frequently report weather as a trigger, although research to support those claims has been mixed. Now, researchers from Taiwan say many of those individuals are right in their perceptions. A recent study has found that individuals who believe they are sensitive to weather experienced an increase in their headaches during the winter, particularly with mild headaches.

In this small study, 66 patients provided their headache diaries from several months in 2007 to a headache clinic in Taipei, Taiwan. Thirty-four patients reported sensitivity to temperature change while the remaining 32 did not. Researchers then compared the headache diaries to the weather.  They found that patients who said they were sensitive to temperature experienced a significantly higher number of headaches in the winter than in the other seasons, while patients who reported they were not sensitive to temperature experienced a smaller increase of headaches in warmer months.

The researchers, who were led by Albert Yang of the Department of Psychiatry at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, noted that the association between temperature and headache is not understood. One suggested possibility is that headache is associated with blood vessel and circulatory changes, which cold weather might aggravate.

“The decrease in temperature during cold fronts either plays a role in precipitating headache attacks or has a priming effect on headache occurrence,” they wrote.

The article appeared in the Journal of Headache and Pain.

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