Barometric pressure headaches are a huge problem because they can be so unpredictable and strike at the worst times.
The graph below shows major triggers leading to migraines among U.S. patients as of 2016:
Changes in weather and barometric pressure are a huge problem and go together.
In this article we will understand what causes barometric pressure headaches and what we can do about it.
Definition / What is a barometric pressure headache?
Barometric pressure is also known as atmospheric pressure and is the amount of air-pressure-based-force that our environment is exerting on our bodies.
A barometric pressure headache is when changes in the environment cause the barometric pressure to drop or rise.
This change causes our body to have to adapt and alter its internal pressure.
If our trigger levels are high or we have congestion or a high amount of mucus from eating mucus forming foods then our body does not easily adapt to these changes.
This causes nerves to have added pressure on them that can then result in an inflammatory reaction that may create a headache or even trigger a migraine.
For example: When inside an airplane that is taking off and climbing rapidly there is a very sudden change in barometric pressure. Your body adapts to this by changing its internal pressure and this usually ends in our ears popping to balance out.
How do weather changes cause barometric pressure to raise or drop?
Generally, when the sky is clear and sunny there is higher barometric pressure and when the sky is cloudy and moist then there is low barometric pressure.
But this isn’t always the case.
When the sun is out it’s warmer so air is expanding and this causes more pressure.
But when enough of that heat has caused hot water to evaporate and that hot air to rise high enough to cool down, this causes clouds to form and lowers pressure.
It’s not as simple as this but this is a general understanding… That’s why we have meteorologists.
Can barometric pressure cause migraines and headaches?
Barometric pressure is a completely normal event and we have experienced it for millions of years throughout our evolution.
It’s even reasonable to assume that knowing when the weather was changing would have provided an additional adaptation to survival because we would then have some time to prepare before any storms hit.
It’s usually the case that barometric pressure will change 5-6 hours before a storm comes but some very sensitive migraine and headache sufferers can feel it up to a day or two prior.
As the barometric pressure drops and the pressure in the atmosphere around us becomes low, our body has to adapt.
This causes many different changes in our bodies including changing the pressure in our ears and sinuses.
If our ears or sinuses have mucus or blockages, this makes the problem much worse because the air in them will try to expand, pressing on nerves.
This means we need to choose cleaner diets that are less mucus forming.
According to mother nature network there are also changes in blood pressure, blood sugar and event joint pain when the barometric pressure changes.
It’s completely reasonable to suspect that if blood pressure, blood sugar and joint pain are all adversely affected, then the body is going through big changes during lowering or heightening barometric pressure.
We know the migraine brain is one that does not like change and these are not small changes if they can affect these factors.
This study found that “sales of loxoprofen, which can represent the onset and aggravation of headache, significantly increased with worsening weather conditions.”
Then this study in 2004 found “Of the 77 subjects in the study, 39 (50.6%), were found to be sensitive to weather.”
Even flare ups of rheumatic conditions like arthritis, joint pain and low back pain as well as mood changes are all affected by barometric pressure and weather.
Remember when a storm was coming and grandma would say “I can feel it in my bones.”
What is high / low / normal barometric pressure?
This study from 2011 found that “The frequency of migraine increased when the difference in barometric pressure from the day the headache occurred to the day after was lower by more than 5 hPa, and decreased when the difference in barometric pressure from the day the headache occurred to 2 days later was higher by more than 5 hPa.”
So it’s not so much the increase as it is the decrease in barometric pressure that does us wrong.
Tools for barometric pressure headaches
There are some amazing apps available to give you warnings on barometric pressure so that you can plan and prepare for any problems that may come.
Here is a great article on barometric pressure headaches with a list of cities that have the least barometric pressure variation.
Understanding barometric pressure headaches
Barometric pressure changes are completely normal and it’s not until changes happen in your body that it is unable to deal with them.
There is a big shift that happens in the entire body when the amount of pressure on it changes.
Every fluid and gas in our bodies has to adjust to compensate for the change.
But this is absolutely normal and from an evolutionary perspective we have dealt with this for millions of years and evolved and adapted with it.
The problem starts when our trigger levels are too high and our threshold too low.
When our body is taken out of its natural context, this puts stress on the body.
Then, when we add a bunch of stress from our jobs, our work, our relationships, our food etc…
Our body’s ability to adapt starts to break down.
This is why problems like PMS are so common nowadays where they were never before outside of some rare circumstances.
In humans natural and evolutionary habitat, we would not survive if we had barometric pressure headaches and migraines that would incapacitate us and we simply would not have been able to reproduce and carry our genes on.
So our inability to adapt to these problems is a much more common occurrence today than it ever was and for good reason.
Watch this video on how barometric pressure affects the neck and contribute to pain.
Here is what’s causing the problem then I’ll explain whats happening after.
- Eat foods that aren’t digested properly or that are wrong for our body
- When we have chronic infections
- When we have a suppressed immune system from constant sugar intake
- When we have a compromised digestive system
- When we have constantly high stress that our body cannot adapt to
Our body starts to create lots of waste products that it cannot get rid of.
We are always creating waste as natural byproducts of cellular metabolism, that’s a given.
But in our regular habitat we are always bringing in a lot of nutrient dense foods and supporting the systems that are clearing out and detoxifying that waste.
Our natural diet that we evolved with for millions of years is unprocessed and this leaves nutrients intact for our gut bacteria to thrive off of and create the nutrients we need to build really strong brain cells and clear out waste without a problem.
This means our gut, our liver, our kidneys, our skin and our lungs are always functioning optimally and removing the waste.
We are also detoxifying on a regular basis.
In our natural habitat:
We are in the sun which is regulating our circadian rhythms and optimizing sleep cycles so that our stress hormones drop at night and we can rest and digest.
We are sweating a lot because we rely on physical activity to live and play which means waste is constantly being flushed out of our skin.
We are moving/exercising in habitats with clean air which means our heart rate is high and our lungs are pumping which is constantly bringing in oxygen and expelling waste through our lungs.
We are using vigorous muscular contractions and this is causing our lymphatic system to be squeezed and drained into our detoxification organs. (Our lymphatic system is the waste removal system but doesn’t have its own pump like the blood does with the heart because it relies on movement and breathing deeply.)
We are eating unprocessed food which are full of vitamins and minerals which keep our system running optimally.
These foods are unprocessed and non pasteurized which means they are full of enzymes which help to break them down and prevent the body from reacting to them.
They are also full of high quality fibres that feed our gut bacteria so that we don’t develop gut infections or leaky gut + they are also giving our intestines a good scrub to remove the waste we are creating throughout the day.
There’s so many more pieces that I could go on about that contribute to the body not getting its needs met and this is why I created the 10 steps program.
When these needs aren’t met, our systems don’t function properly.
This sets us up for problems and if any little nudge comes along like pregnancy, emotional stress or an illness…
A cascade of problems gets triggered like they seemed to come out of nowhere.
Migraine and chronic headache sufferers know this feeling.
It stems from the body getting a backup of the detox systems which creates mucus inside our tissues that’s full of latent inflammation.
If this happens inside our ears/nose/throat system like is commonly seen with sinus or throat infections then it’s common to see vestibular issues or pressure changes causing extreme pain buts it’s not always the case as we are all different.
So what do we do?
There’s a simple system we have to understand here.
Make the body function properly and anything that’s left over, if you can’t problem solve for it, find a specific holistic health specialist for that problem.
So you want to:
Each of these are actually deep topics and arent as simple as “well obviously I breathe” or “just think positive.”
The 1 big thing for barometric pressure problems
There are many causes for the body to get aggravated and “clogged up” which leads to environmental sensitivities, allergies, mood swings weight gain etc.
But one of the biggest and most important ones are food intolerances.
What’s one of the most common side effects of a food intolerance?
What has been shown to lower environmental sensitivities and headaches?
Healing food intolerances.
Now of course life isn’t black and white and there are a number of factors that come into play like environmental toxicity, gut dysbiosis, leaky brain etc.
But this may benefit all of them.
Not everyone can do an oligoantigenic diet or follow our food triggers guide exactly so here are the 10 most common foods that have aggravated migraine and headache sufferers in studies.
- Coffee and Tea
- Tree Nuts/Peanuts
Cut them out for at least 1 month then try reintroducing them 1 at a time with 3 days between each reintroduction.
As you regain your ability to sense foods that your body is or is not sensitive to you will be able to gauge how high your trigger levels are, how low your threshold is and if an oncoming storm will trigger you.
It’s a process and years of damage and back up doesn’t get fixed overnight so it’s important to start re-regulating all the cleansing systems, remove foods that make your body angry and get started on the step by step path to health today.
Starting with these foods is step 1.
Join the Migraine Professional community to learn how to heal the body and brain without drugs here.
If you know someone with barometric pressure issues share it with them and comment below if you’ve ever experienced a sensitivity to barometric pressure.
Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.