Friday, March 20, 2009

Migraine: Under Pressure Not Temperature


So, I've been thinking. There have been several articles about study results that were recently published about an increase in temperature increasing the probability of a migraine sufferer having an attack.

Though the numbers slightly disagree in percent of probability and in the amount of temperature increase, that is not really what I believe is the importance of the study.

I believe that the results demonstrated by this 7000 subject analysis, may show that the increase in temperature affects some migraineurs because they are susceptible to pressure changes.

The ideal gas law states that "in the ideal state of any gas, a given number of its "particles" occupy the same volume, and that volume changes are inverse to pressure changes and linear to temperature changes".

A very simplified example would be to imagine a bag of popcorn in the microwave. When you heat it up, the bag gets bigger because the inside pressure of the heat increase and popping corn in the bag makes it expand. Now, the atmosphere of the earth does not react in the same way, because our atmosphere is not trapped.

But, the volume of our skulls, is in fact a trapped atmosphere. Therefore the effect of the ideal gas law may actually explain a trigger for some people who suffer from migraines. The amount we each are affected differs. Some people experience no problems at all, while others may experience extreme pain due to the change in pressure. Not just the change in temperature.

None of us is the same physically, so it would figure that there are some people that are affected more by some stimuli than others. My biggest trigger is barometric pressure. I haven't been able to document every one of my triggers, but my records show that change in barometric pressure definitely is one, and now there is a possibility that nominal changes in temperature may be a part of that trigger.

It should be noted that the research being cited by the media may have some holes in it.

"Dr Andrew Dowson, the chairman of the medical advisory board of the British charity Migraine Action, said: "The study ... recognizes three main problems: that the doctors did not diagnose as per the International Headache Society guidelines; that the temperature was not that personally experienced by the patient but rather a central reading for the geographical area; and that the timing of the onset of headache was not accurate (the time of hospital contact was recorded). In addition of course we must recognize that most people with headache do not attend casually or even call a doctor but simply self medicate and rest."

These are some of the websites I used in preparation of this article;
http://www.medscape.com
http://somebodyhealme
http://themigrainegirl
http://www.independent.co.uk