Barometric Pressure Migraines Demystified: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

barometric pressure migraines

When you hear about barometric pressure, you automatically picture a weather lady (or man) talking on TV. You rarely hear people associate it with headaches or migraine episodes. But did you know that many individuals have barometric pressure headaches or migraines? It's also one of the leading complaints of patients seeking to correct an atlas subluxation. But what is barometric pressure headache? How does it affect people, and what can affected individuals do to cope? 

Barometric Pressure Migraines: What It Is and How It Develops 

The American Migraine Foundation shares that more than a third of people who experience migraine headaches report weather or barometric pressure changes as their key trigger. Several studies support this claim and explain that air pressure changes can cause various effects on migraineurs, such as the ones listed below related to climate migraines.

Shrinking of the cerebellum

The cerebellum is a section of the brain associated with migraine headaches and pain. A study explains that the cerebellum is involved in four types of migraines: migraine with and without aura, basilar migraines, and familial hemiplegic migraines. 

Pressure fluctuations in the sinuses

Air pressure changes can result in sinus congestion, leading to worse headaches and migraines. This happens because the fluctuating barometric pressure forces the sinus (air pockets in your face) to swell and compress nearby tissues such as the nerves that contribute to the onset of headaches.

Increased blood flow

When the oxygen levels dip because of low air pressure, the brain instructs your circulatory system to compensate. This leads to vasodilation and a sudden surge of blood flow to the brain. Unfortunately, this leads a person highly susceptible to migraine episodes. 

Symptoms of Barometric Pressure Migraines

Similar to other types of migraines, barometric pressure migraines cause headaches. It also sets off additional symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensory sensitivity, excessive yawning, depression, and visual disturbances. Some patients also experience diarrhea, vertigo, tinnitus, and dizziness.  

If you notice these symptoms right after the changes in the air pressure around you, you likely have barometric pressure migraine. It would help to keep track of your episodes using a migraine diary. This will help you manage your plans, especially when you expect weather changes in your area. 

Additionally, we suggest exploring proven remedies and techniques for migraine headaches. These can help you reduce the impact of your episodes.

barometric pressure headache


How to Cope with Migraines Triggered by Air Pressure Changes

While migraines can be unpleasant, doctors, Upper Cervical chiropractors, and other healthcare professionals believe the symptoms are manageable. In some cases, patients can potentially prevent an episode from worsening by taking medications blocking the transmission of pain signals. 

Others rely on natural means to manage and cope during their attacks. Here are examples of things you can try to incorporate into your migraine care regimen:

Eating healthy and hearty meals

A well-balanced diet can support good health and help combat chronic problems such as barometric pressure migraines. 

Avoiding fasting or skipping meals 

Drastic changes to your diet can affect your blood sugar levels and, consequently, your brain and nervous system. 

Minding your tyramine intake 

Studies explain that tyramine can trigger headaches, so you might find it helpful to lessen your consumption of deli meats, cold cuts, and aged cheese.  

Implementing stress management techniques 

Managing your stressors can help avoid unnecessary stimulation of the body's fight or flight response. Hence, it can potentially help you avoid migraine attacks.  

Keeping your body well hydrated

Not drinking enough water can lead to nasty headaches and other migraine symptoms. So, we strongly suggest bringing a water bottle anywhere you go. 

Getting enough rest, especially at night 

Restorative sleep helps protect the body from chronic problems like migraine attacks. It's also crucial in keeping your brain's chemical levels well-balanced. 

Tapping into massage therapy 

Massage sessions with a professional therapist can help release tension, especially in the neck region. This helps you relax the muscles and ensure proper blood flow to your head. 

Avoiding sensory triggers 

Bright lights, intense scents, and loud sounds spell trouble for migraineurs. Hence, you might find avoiding these things at all costs helpful. 

Visiting an Upper Cervical Specialist For a Barometric Pressure Headache

Postural imbalances can aggravate migraine headaches – even those that stem from barometric pressure fluctuations. This is why many patients seek an Upper Cervical Specialist. Upper Cervical Chiropractic works by removing pressure on the brainstem tissue – a common problem that arises from atlas subluxation (misalignment of the top bone in the spine due to accidents and injuries).

Relieving Migraine Attacks By Addressing Atlas Subluxation 

Migraine attacks can severely impact your life, especially if the episodes happen due to factors you can't control. Thankfully, Upper Cervical Chiropractic allows you to lessen your probability of experiencing severe migraines. It works by fixing atlas subluxation and restoring your spine's structural integrity. Notably, even the slightest changes in the alignment of your atlas bone can impact various physiological processes such as: 

  • Brainstem function - The brainstem regulates many processes like sleeping and breathing. When you have an atlas subluxation, the brainstem fails to do its job. It can also trigger the onset of your migraines including weather-related migraines. 
  • Normal blood flow in the brain - Besides the brainstem and nerves, an atlas subluxation also affects the blood vessels that supply the nervous system. The blood vessels can get compressed and fail to supply enough blood to the brain tissues. 
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow - in addition to blood flow cerebrospinal fluid flow can also be altered by upper neck misalignments which has been associated with migraine headaches.

Additionally, a displaced atlas bone can affect the neck muscles. Extensive flexion of these muscles can increase the risks of intense migraine headaches because they tug on the head and affect nearby nerves. 

Upper Cervical Chiropractic and Migraine Research

The relationship between upper cervical chiropractic care and migraines has been explored in various research studies and case reports. Here are some relevant findings:

  1. Integrating Chiropractic Care Into the Treatment of Migraine Headaches in a Tertiary Care Hospital: A Case Series (2019) - This case series illustrates an integrated model of care for migraine that combines standard neurological care with upper cervical chiropractic care. The study explores whether an integrated model of neurologic and chiropractic care may improve migraine symptoms.
  2. Migraine Headaches and NUCCA - The Secret to Lasting Relief (2016) - A clinical study shows the connection between migraine headaches and upper cervical chiropractic care. The research involves 11 migraine patients who received NUCCA (an upper cervical chiropractic technique) to improve their condition. The study demonstrated the benefits of upper cervical chiropractic care for migraine patients.
  3. Chiropractic management of essential tremor and migraine: a case report - This case report describes the reduction of tremor and migraine symptoms in a patient who received Blair Upper Cervical chiropractic treatment. The patient experienced improvement in tremors and migraine headaches following chiropractic care.
  4. A case of chronic migraine remission after chiropractic care - This case study presents a 72-year-old woman with a 60-year history of migraine headaches, who experienced a dramatic improvement after upper cervical chiropractic care. The patient did not experience any migraines for a period of more than 7 years following the initiation of upper cervical care.
  5. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for a Patient with Chronic Migraine Headaches with an Appendix Summarizing an Additional 100 Headache Cases - this case study and appendix explores the power of upper cervical chiropractic care for people with suffering with migraine headaches. It focuses on 100 migraine cases that had tremendous results with upper cervical chiropractic care.

These sources provide insights into the potential benefits of upper cervical chiropractic care for migraine management, based on case studies and clinical research.

Fortunately, Upper Cervical Care can help you resolve your postural problem and begin seeing improvements in your migraine episodes. It can also help you reduce pressure on your spinal column so your brain can start transmitting signals needed to heal your body.

Locate a nearby upper cervical practice to schedule your initial migraine assessment.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.