Lately it's been feeling a lot like spring has paid the Drumheller Valley a visit, but that's just from the Chinook weather.
Although Chinooks bring warm wind, it also brings migraines to some citizens.
"A lot of patients with migraines do feel that Chinook's trigger some of their headaches and why this happens, we don't really know. We assume it's the dramatic changes in barometric pressure when a Chinook rolls in. We did some research on this some years ago now and have gotten weather records to try to pinpoint how many patients were weather sensitive; we found that about half our patients were weather sensitive," explained Dr. Werner Becker, Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary.
From their research, Dr. Becker found that half of the patients were sensitive to the day before the Chinook hit and the other half were more sensitive when the Chinook arrived.
"We believe that Chinook winds can trigger migraine headaches by two difference mechanisms; the barometric pressure falling before the Chinook arrives and those who are wind sensitive are only wind sensitive when the wind is 35 km/h or above," Dr. Becker mentioned.
There are two things to consider when trying to avoid being a patient of migraines from weather changes.
"First of all, most migraine patients know about half a dozen of the triggers and the biggest one is stress. If a Chinook is coming in, it's important for migraine sufferers to know what other triggers to avoid like not have a glass of wine or not skip meals or reduce their schedule a bit so they aren't quite as stressed," outlined Dr. Becker.
"Chinooks have a very definite onset and they come in pretty quickly. One could take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for a day before the Chinook hits to try and prevent the headaches. That can also be a problem for people who get frequent migraine attacks, they can't take pain killers too often or else it can cause more headaches," added Dr. Becker.
Dr. Werner Becker reported to 99.5 Drum FM that although we may believe this is caused by Chinooks, there are multiple other weather changes that can cause migraines.
"We think we're unlucky in a way. If you're a migraine sufferer and we have all those strong Chinooks in Southern Alberta, but all over the world people think that changing weather patterns trigger their headaches. Some places think it's heat, some places think its thunderstorms. It's not just our Chinooks, it's a world wide phenomenon that weather changes seem to trigger migraines in some people."
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