Lightning May Cause Migraines, Headaches
A new study has found that lightning may cause migraines and headaches.
Researchers from University of Cincinnati carried out a study involving 90 participants from across Cincinnati and St. Louis, who had fulfilled the criteria for International Headache Society-defined migraines. They were asked to record their headache activity, including symptoms, severity of pain, duration of pain and sensitivity to light and noise, in a daily journal for three to six months, reports NBCNews.com.
The research team found that there was a 31 percent increased risk of headache and 28 percent increased risk of migraine for chronic headache sufferers, on those days when lightning struck within 25 miles of their homes.
Moreover, there was a significant increase of new-onset headache and migraine by 24 percent and 23 percent respectively.
Researcher Geoffrey Martin, fourth-year medical student at UC, and his father Vincent Martin, UC Health physician and headache expert, recorded the location where lightning struck within 25 miles of participant's homes, magnitude and polarity of lightning current. Using mathematical models, they determined whether lightning alone caused the increased frequency of headaches or weather factors including thunderstorm were also responsible.
"Our results found a 19 percent 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," said Vincent Martin.
Negatively charged lightning currents were also linked to a higher chance of headache. "There are a number of ways in which lightning might trigger headaches," said Vincent Martin. "Electromagnetic waves emitted from lightning could trigger headaches. In addition, lightning produces increases in air pollutants like ozone and can cause release of fungal spores that might lead to migraine."
Researchers are yet to determine the exact mechanisms through which lightning triggers headache. They insist on further studies to understand the role of lightning and thunderstorms on headache.
The findings of the study appear in the online edition of the journal Cephalalgia.