United Press International reported last night on the results of a new study which show a link between lightning and the onset of migraine headaches. The study, published in the journal Cephalalgia, showed that the incidence of migraine headaches increased by up to 24 percent when lightning occurred.
Participants in the study came from Missouri and Ohio, and were selected because they met the criteria for migraine headaches as defined by the International Headache Society. Study participants recorded their headache activity in a daily journal for between three to six months. Also recorded were lightning strikes, including their magnitude and the polarity of their current, which occurred within a 25 mile radius of the participant's homes.
Headache expert Doctor Vincent Martin, University of Cincinnati Health physician and professor of general internal medicine, along with his son, Geoffrey Martin, a fourth-year medical student, showed that on days when there were lightning strikes within 25 miles of the study participant's homes, there was a 31 percent increased risk for headache, and a 28 percent increase in the risk for migraine in participants who suffered from chronic headaches.
Geoffrey Martin said, " Many studies show conflicting findings on how weather, including elements like barometric pressure and humidity, affect the onset of headaches. However, this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches."
Doctor Martin said, " We used mathematical models to determine if the lightning itself was the cause of the increased frequency of headaches, or whether it could be attributed to other weather factors encountered with thunderstorms. Our results found a 19 percent increased risk for headaches on lightning days, even after accounting for these weather factors. This suggests that lightning has it's own unique effect on headache."
None of these findings contain good news for those who suffer from migraine headaches. According to WebMD, of the 45 million chronic headache sufferers in the United States, 28 million suffer from migraine headaches. These debilitating headaches sometimes have a precursor, dubbed an 'aura', an hour or so before the headache's onset. An aura can consist of spots or flashes of light in the field of vision, and wavy vision on the periphery. There may be a tingling sensation in the hands, arms, face or all three.
A migraine headache brings throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, increased sensitivity to light and sounds, nausea, vomiting, or both. If you experience these symptoms along with severe headache for the first time, seek medical help right away to make sure that symptoms aren't indicative of stroke. As yet, there is no cure for migraine headache.