Well Being

Cool Fact: Lightning Could Be A Cause Of Migraines And Headaches

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lightning cause of migraines

Health studies often range from controversial to uninformative (and are often misinterpreted by the media), but every once in awhile researchers come along with new discoveries that are just kind of interesting to read about. In today's benign-but-cool news: A University of Cincinatti professor and his son (a med student) found that lightning could be a cause of migraines and headaches; in a small-scale experiment, they found that subjects who lived within a 25 mile radius of a lightning bolt were 24% more likely to experience migraines (and 23% more likely to get a headache) on the day when it hit.

It's long been thought that weather could be a cause of headaches, and studies have shown a link between stormy weather–thanks to humidity and pressure changes in the atmosphere. But even when Professor Vincent Martin took those migraine triggers into consideration, they found that lightning still seems to have an independent effect:

Our results found a 19% increased risk for headaches on lightning days, even after accounting for these weather factors. This suggests that lightning has its own unique effect on headache.

The published study also mentioned that negatively charged lightning bolts correlated with a higher occurrence of migraines, but noted that the link is far from clear. Martin explained:

The exact mechanisms through which lightning and/or its associated meteorologic factors trigger headache are unknown, although we do have speculations.


Ultimately, the effect of weather on headache is complex, and future studies will be needed to define more precisely the role of lightning and thunderstorms on headache.

Unfortunately, the study doesn't have much to offer in the way of migraine remedies for anyone who thinks lightning might be their migraine trigger. (Although, if you suffer from migraines and live somewhere known for frequent storms, maybe it's worth trying to move?). So for now, just file this under: Cool stuff we learned from a health study.


Photo: flickr user snowpeak