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Headache and Barometric Pressure: a Narrative Review

  • Kushagra MainiEmail author
  • Nathaniel M. Schuster
Uncommon and/or Unusual Headaches and Syndromes (J Ailani, Section Editor)
  • 47 Downloads
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Uncommon and/or Unusual Headaches and Syndromes

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Alterations in atmospheric pressure have been long associated with headaches. The purpose of this review article is to investigate the association of barometric pressure with headache, classifying into two broad categories primary headache disorders (barometric pressure triggering migraine or tension-type headache) and secondary headache disorders (barometric pressure triggering high-altitude headache and headache attributed to airplane travel), discussing the pathophysiology and possible treatments.

Recent Findings

Multiple studies have been performed with inconsistent results regarding the directionality of the association between atmospheric pressure changes and triggering of primary headache disorders, chiefly headaches. Atmospheric pressure is also a trigger of two secondary headache disorders, i.e., high-altitude headache and headache attributed to airplane travel. Hypothesized mechanisms include excitation of neurons in trigeminal nucleus, central and peripheral vasoconstriction, barotrauma, and hypoxia. There are no randomized clinical trials regarding effective acute or preventive treatments.

Summary

Greater understanding of pathophysiology may enable both acute and preventive treatments for headaches triggered by changes in barometric pressure. Further studies on the subject are needed.

Keywords

Headache Migraine Barometric pressure Atmospheric pressure High-altitude headaches Airplane headache 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyAugusta UniversityAugustaUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnesthesiologyUCSD School of MedicineLa JollaUSA

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