Gravity's Rainbow

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February Migraine Data

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I think that changes in barometric pressure influence my migraines, so I’ve been keeping track of daily pressure and how I feel (almost) every day.  Understanding how exactly my migraines are related to pressure changes is important for me – if I know the types of pressure changes that make me sick, I can choose a place that doesn’t have those sorts of changes for graduate school.  Daydreaming about weeks on end without a migraine is better  than daydreaming about winning the sweepstakes.  If you’d like to see the data and maybe help interpret it, read on.A little explanation of the graphs before we get into the details:

The horizontal axis shows the time.  If I had a migraine on a given day, it may have started a few hours before the latest time on the horizontal axis, but I definitely still had a migraine at that time.  The vertical axis shows the pressure.  I think that fast changes and/or big changes in pressure cause migraines for me.

First, let’s look at the days I didn’t have a migraine:

Days with no migraine

Days where I had no migraine there were 0-5 “bumps” and some noticable slopes (on February 23rd, for example, there was about a 10 hPa change over about 5 hours.  The smallest bumps were about 1 hPa tall and occurred over 15-30 minutes.  The biggest bump (on February 14th) was about 5 hPa tall and occurred over 3 or 4 hours.

Now on to the bad days:

Days with migraine

There were 5 – 22 bumps on days that I did have a migraine.  The tallest bumps here were also about 5 hPa tall, but they occurred over much shorter time periods.  There was also a slope  on February 27th that changed about 10 hPa over a relatively long period of time (5 or 6 hours), but unlike February 23rd, this was a downhill rather than an uphill change.

Let’s look at February 15th by itself.

A migraine that went from bad to worse

First, look at the graph on the left. I went to bed on February 14th with a migraine.  Before I went to bed, there was a bump about 3 hPa tall over about 2 hours.  A similar bump earlier in the day didn’t give me a migraine.  Perhaps it was the two bumps together that made me sick.  Now look at the graph on the right (it overlaps the graph on the left at 4pm).  There were two bumps between 6 and ~11:30am.  They were about the same height, but the second bump was much “faster.” (Rounder tops are slower changes, sharper tops are faster changes).  By 1pm, my migraine had gone from “I feel pretty terrible” to “I feel like I’m going to die and I’m not sure that would be a bad thing.”

Any patterns you think I’m missing? And any suggestions for places with flat, flat pressure graphs?

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3 Comments

  1. My sympathies. Some years ago I discovered accidentally that cardamoms were my major trigger for migraines. I read that cardamoms are very effective at keeping tooth decay bacteria in check. I like the taste so I started chewing them everyday. After a week and a half it occurred to me that it was cardamoms that were my problem. It was like being reborn as a human being. No more Indian meals (curry is the British national dish, unfortunately) except when I cook them.

    Stress and lack of food together or certain air fresheners also get me, but they are avoidable. I have just resigned from my current job because they won’t stop using a particularly nasty air freshener.

    I can’t help with your pressure change analysis but I wish you the best of luck.

    • If cardamom were one of my triggers, I would be pretty heartbroken – it’s one of my favorite spices. But getting rid of migraines would be worth it! I’m glad you figured out that it was one of your triggers!

  2. When the humidity changes quickly, up or down, I get migraine vulnerability. Crispy, clear, dry, sunny is the worst. Amazingly, only 12 hour Sudafed keeps the “eyeball/teeth/brain” pain under control with bufferin. Does this have to do with aromatic pressure? I think so!

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