Headaches & Migraines
According to a survey done by the National Headache Foundation, 75% of those polled declared that weather triggered their headache pain, with 73% identifying the trigger as barometric pressure changes. Extreme cold accounted for 38%.
Migraines and intense headaches stem from genetics and neurovascular imbalances in the brain. A migraine is a chronic neurological condition characterized by a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms accompanying the headache. Curiously enough, headache pain may actually be an evolutionary benefit!
The theory is that getting headaches in adverse environmental conditions spur people to seek more hospitable ones. Frequent sufferers possess a greater sensitivity to environmental changes and have lower pain thresholds. People with migraines have inherited this sensitivity.
Warning signs can precede migraines by up to 48 hours; they include feeling unusually excitable, irritable, depressed, dizzy, nauseated, sensitive to light, sound and smell or have frequent yawning. Cold weather may evoke a migraine for you, and while you can’t control climate changes, you can plan around them.
Colder temperatures and higher humidity were linked to higher stroke rates. Studies from Yale, Harvard and Duke show a possible link between cold weather, humidity and weather swings and an increased risk of stroke. For every 5 degree drop in temperature and every 5 degree increase in humidity, there was a 2% increased risk.
Approximately 800,000 Americans suffer from a stroke annually. They are usually due to clots obstructing a blood vessel going to the brain. The constriction of blood vessels in cold weather can not only increase blood pressure, but also cause the body to make blood stickier and more apt to clot. Stay heated in winter months, reduce your salt intake and stay hydrated.
Vitamin D Levels, Winter and Depression – All Bundled Up!
Vitamin D is produced when one is exposed to sunlight. Consequently, when you stay inside during cold winter months, your sun exposure may be limited, thereby decreasing the amount of Vitamin D that you make.
While it is unclear whether Vitamin D deficiency actually causes depression, it has been found that many suffering from depression also lack the proper levels of Vitamin D in their bodies. Their symptoms improved when D supplement was given. The recommended daily intake is 600 IU up until age 70 and 800 IU for those older.
The link between depression and vitamin D is supported by the fact that there are vitamin D receptors in the brain that control emotion and behavior. When lowered, these receptors cause depression, which is lifted when supplements are given. Also people with depression stay indoors more often, don’t eat a healthy diet for the most part, and lack sufficient exercise, further compounding the depression.