Good Life

Ask Joe | Several weather conditions may influence migraines

Q: What about the weather can spark migraines? I suffer from them and I have been told that I need to move down South to get under the jet stream.

A: Even though this crosses over into the health field and beyond my expertise, my biggest advice is to not jump too fast on what you heard. On the weather side of things, it may or may not be the best advice.

There are several migraine triggers that I know of when it comes to the weather. One of the big ones is atmospheric pressure change, which may affect the pressure on joints and sinuses. This is more common to the north and along the main jet stream flow, where we have larger storms, especially during the winter. Pressure changes also are linked to changing weather, just like we’ve had a little more than usual this summer. This could be why you had more migraines this summer compared to other summers. Pressure changes also cause wind, which can be a stress that sparks headaches. This, too, would be a little more common in the northern states.

There are other weather-related reasons for headaches that may not be relieved by moving south. Heat and humidity also can trigger migraines, as well as dehydration, which is linked to not only heat, but also elevation, a problem that may be enhanced in places in the western part of the country. Lastly, allergies may be an issue. A portion of this summer was very humid, a condition that increases mold spores. The southeastern part of the country would be worse for those suffering from mold-related allergies.

My biggest suggestion in a situation like this is to keep a log of your headaches along with a summary of the weather. That could tell you if there is a link to weather.

Q: Why do you often say that nights are colder in the deeper valleys?

A: Normally I would say something like this on clear and calm nights, which are perfect conditions for what we call radiational cooling. All cooling starts at the ground. At night, the ground radiates its energy back out through the atmosphere. A clear sky and light winds allows this to happen at the fastest pace without interference. As the ground cools, it cools the air near the ground. Cool air is denser than warm air. Therefore, this dense cool air will tend to slide down to the lowest elevations much like water. Therefore, the valleys can be more than a few degrees cooler in cases like this.