Even though Barometric Pressure Headache sufferers can be divided into 2 groups, i.e. barometric pressure sensitive individuals who develop simple non-migraine type headaches and those where barometric pressure acts as a trigger for their migraines, the following points should be borne in mind:
- Individuals who suffer from Barometric Pressure Migraine Headaches may on occasion experience non-migraine headache-like symptoms e.g. pain around the nasal bridge region.
- Barometric Pressure Migraine Headaches are a distinct category meaning that they are only experienced by migraineurs who have a sensitivity to barometric pressure.
- A person can suffer from Barometric Pressure Non-Migraine Headaches but not Barometric Pressure Migraine Headaches yet still be a migraineur i.e. the trigger for their migraines might be chocolate or cheese but not barometric pressure.
- Keeping a Headache Diary will help an individual to determine whether they suffer from Barometric Pressure Headaches and the category they experience. It will help establish the relationship between barometric pressure and any underlying patterns associated with their symptoms.
From above, it can be seen that the frequently quoted definition of a Barometric Pressure Headache i.e. “it’s just a weather headache” is only a small part of a much bigger, more elaborate picture. Adding to the problem is the issue regarding discrepancies and contradictory information to be found on the internet regarding this topic. This can lead to considerable confusion amongst readers and results from:
A) How the term itself is perceived based on the way it can be subdivided.
- Barometric Pressure Headache.
Implication: A headache that develops under certain barometric pressure conditions.
Note: Unfortunately, most sources are unclear about providing a clear definition and use vague terms such as, ” ‘thumping’ headache due to the weather” or “do you experience a ‘throbbing’ pain as the clouds roll in” etc.
- Barometric Pressure Headache.
Implication: Pressure Headache (which is a specific category of headache) that develops under certain barometric conditions. Therefore, in this context, Barometric Pressure Headaches are considered a subset of Pressure Headaches.
Note: However, an individual who is barometric sensitive may, depending on their disposition, experience either non-migraine type or migraine type headaches (both types can have various symptoms).
B) ‘Barometric Pressure Headache’ is sometimes applied to headaches related to both air pressure (weather or altitude) and water pressure.
Note: However, Barometric Pressure is air (atmospheric) pressure which is “The force (per unit area) exerted by the weight of air above an object”.
C) Authors failing to clarify the intended contextual meaning of the word ‘pressure’ within a body of text.
- Does the word ‘pressure’ in the text relate to the headache sensation or does it imply actual pressure measurement i.e. air or water pressure?
D) Misconception concerning the word ‘ headache’ and whether it is the same thing as a migraine.
- Common misusage of the word headache means that many non-migraineurs erroneously ‘label’ their headaches as a migraine headache.
- Headache is a generic term to cover pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck and the most well-recognized classification for headaches is that of the International Headache Society’s International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-2). This lists 14 groups (Primary 1-4; Secondary 5-12; Other 13-14) consisting of over 200 types of headache that range from harmless to life threatening. Migraines are classified as Primary Headache 1 with the symptoms noted in Barometric Pressure Headache Symptoms.
Therefore, taking all the above into account, the simplest and most complete definition of a Barometric Pressure Headache remains:
“A Barometric Pressure Headache develops under certain barometric pressure conditions and can be either non-migraine type or migraine type.”