Lightning Can Initiate a Migraine Attack

by Anne Trueman on  February 19, 2013 at 11:02 AM Health In Focus
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According to scientists, lightning may stimulate headaches! Recently, a study published in the journal Cephalalgia has shown that lightning striking near a person's house can trigger headaches.
 Lightning Can Initiate a Migraine Attack
Lightning Can Initiate a Migraine Attack

Frederick Freitag, Director of the Headache Center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas has said that the alterations produced in the air could possibly trigger electrical changes in the brains of migraine patients and result in severe headaches.

The exact cause of migraine is unknown; however the scientists believe that migraine patients are more sensitive to external stimuli such as bright lights, some food items or hunger. Such stimuli can trigger the excruciating headaches.

Vincent Martin, a headache specialist at the Cincinnati University observed that thunderstorms encourage migraine headaches.

In order to find out the effect of lightning in migraine patients, Vincent and colleagues collected the data of 90 migraine patients.

"For each headache sufferer, a same-day lightning strike occurred within 25 miles of his or her ZIP code about 10 percent to 20 percent of the time."

According to Martin, "When a thunderstorm rolls in, there could be 50,000 lightning strikes within 25 miles [40 kilometers] of your house, you just don't realize it."

The researchers noted that on lightning strike day, about 30 percent of patients had the probability of being affected by migraine and 28 percent were likely to be affected by general headaches.

By controlling other important headache-causing factors such as wind, barometric pressure, temperature, rain and humidity, the scientists noticed 13 percent jump in the probability of having an attack.

Prof. Martin said that there are various ways in which this can be expressed theoretically.

The low-frequency electromagnetic waves create a magnetic field when lightning strikes the ground. This can alter the electrical signals in the brain. Lightning produces more positively charged ions in the atmosphere. The concentration of ozone irritants is also increased in the air by the electrical strikes.

Freitag mentioned, "Though it may sound far-fetched, thunderstorms, via changes in the air's ionic charge, could trigger migraines."

The researchers said that lightning can cause thunderous headaches. The attack frequency increases when lightning and thunder occurs. The electromagnetic waves released during lightning can trigger headache and increase pollution.

Martin stated, 'The weather instability indices that predict thunderstorms may be able to forecast days with an increased risk for lightning-associated headaches.'

Source: Medindia

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