It is essential to keep a diary of both the weather or altitude and the type/frequency of your headaches over a period of time, in order to establish whether a relationship exists between your headaches and barometric pressure. The diary should include both quantitative (numbers/figures) as well as qualitative (descriptive) data, as meaningful results will only be achieved through consistent and accurate record keeping. This diary/journal can be a great help should you need to consult the medical profession. An example of a possible layout is shown below and the data will only take a few minutes a day to record:
Points to consider:
- Using an online weather site to find weather information for your diary is not the best way to collect accurate and meaningful data, because the information supplied is usually very generalized and not specific to your exact location. You are advised to use your own barometer, and some digital barometers are able to record data over a period of time and upload this to a PC. Your own Hygrometer (humidity), Thermometer (temperature) and Altimeter (altitude) would also be very useful. These can be bought as single instruments or alternatively are available in various combinations in analogue and digital weather stations and wrist watch equipment (refer to Types of Barometers and Barometers and Other Equipment).
- A balance will need to be found regarding the amount of data collected and the ease of interpreting it. Most people will want a quick and convenient way to record data and assess it without embarking on a full scientific experiment! The two most common approaches to using a headache diary would be :
- Recording data only when a headache occurs:
- Less data.
- Easier to spot those types of headache that are triggered by specific conditions.
- Harder to spot those headaches that are triggered by gradual changes in weather/barometric conditions.
- Recording general weather data each day irrespective of whether a person has a headache:
- More data can make it less easy to spot those types of headache that are triggered by specific conditions – color coding data may help e.g. record data in red when headache occurs.
- On headache free days, the weather conditions recorded will need to be standardized and consistent in order to account for fluctuation in any variable throughout a day e.g. temperature, cloud cover etc. Some people note max. and min. readings for the day from their digital equipment e.g. barometer, humidity, temperature and give a summary of the day’s weather e.g. Morning = Rain, Afternoon = Clear, Evening = Frost could be abbreviated to M(r) A(c) E(f) etc.
- Easier to spot those headaches that are triggered by gradual changes in weather/barometric conditions.
- Recording data only when a headache occurs:
- Placing the data in a visual format such as on graph paper or an equivalent software program will make it much easier to view trends and evaluate the information. Some digital barometers allow the data they store to be uploaded to a PC and viewed graphically.
- Appoint a member of your family or a friend to keep your journal in the event that you suffer a particularly debilitating headache or migraine.
- Determining whether a relationship exists between your headaches and the weather will require a dairy to be kept for a number of months. Some people feel they are able to see a link quite quickly e.g. 1 month, but in reality, the longer the dairy is kept, the more accurate and meaningful the data becomes. We recommend an absolute minimum of 3 months, 6+ months is preferable and 1+ year of data would be best practice in order to draw a sensible conclusion.
‘Prevention is better than cure’ is an old saying that is perfectly applicable to headaches and migraines, such that the primary aim of any treatment is to prevent the headache from developing in the first instance. However, should a headache or migraine develop, the next aim is to relieve and stop the painful symptoms as soon as possible.
Both Western and Eastern style treatments can be used successfully to help treat the symptoms of Barometric Pressure Headaches and many people find that a combination of the two approaches works best for them.
In summary, a Headache Diary will help establish:
- Whether you are barometric pressure/weather/altitude sensitive and the degree of your sensitivity.
- The specific barometric conditions that cause or trigger your headaches or migraines. This knowledge will allow you to anticipate and begin to take control of your headaches or migraines.