Lightning linked to migraines - study

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lightning lib REUTERS Headaches and migraines increased by about 30 percent on days lightning struck, the research, published in online medical journal Cephalalgia found.

London - Lightning can trigger thunderous headaches, particularly in migraine sufferers, research has suggested.

It is the first time the link has been revealed and could lead to chronic headache sufferers using weather forecasts to predict attacks.

Professor Vincent Martin, who lead the research, said: ‘Electromagnetic waves emitted from lightning could trigger headaches. In addition, it produces increases in air pollutants like ozone and can cause release of fungal spores that might lead to migraine.’

The US research looked at volunteers who regularly suffered migraines. They recorded daily headache activity for between three and six months.

The location where lightning occurred in relation to their homes and the magnitude of the current was also recorded.

Headaches and migraines increased by about 30 percent on days lightning struck, the research, published in online medical journal Cephalalgia found.

Professor Martin, of the University of Cincinnati, said: ‘We used mathematical models to determine if the lightning itself was the cause of the increased frequency or whether it could be attributed to other weather factors encountered with thunderstorms.’

‘Our results found a 19 per cent increased risk on lightning days, even after accounting for these weather factors.

‘This suggests lightning has its own unique effect.’

His son Geoffrey, a fourth year medical student who also worked on the research, said: 'Many studies show conflicting findings on how weather, including elements like barometric pressure and humidity, affect the onset of headaches.

However, this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches.'

Professor Martin said that negatively charged lightning currents were also particularly associated with a higher chance of headache.

Mr Martin said: 'This study gives some insight into the tie between headaches or migraines, lightning and other meteorologic factors.

'However, the exact mechanisms through which lightning and/or its associated meteorologic factors trigger headache are unknown, although we do have speculations.

'Ultimately, the effect of weather on headache is complex, and future studies will be needed to define more precisely the role of lightning and thunderstorms on headache.'

He added: 'The weather instability indices that predict thunderstorms may be able to forecast days with an increased risk for lightning-associated headaches.'- Daily Mail


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