It’s not only ‘global warming’ that causes headaches, so does lightning it seems

lightning_headache

While we all know ‘global warming’ to be our major source of headaches here at WUWT, this from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center , suggests lightning is also a cause. To me, this is something that seems too statistically small to be real, especially when dealing with human subjects. Further, since thunderstorms produce localized weather effects, including fluctuations in barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity, often all at the same time in conjunction with lightning, and these all affect the human sinus, this may be nothing more than a case of confirmation bias.  – Anthony

Research ties lightning to onset of headache, migraines

CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers have found that lightning may affect the onset of headache and migraines.

These results, published in the Jan. 24, 2013 online edition of the journal Cephalalgia, are the first tying lightning to headache and could help chronic sufferers more efficiently anticipate headache and migraine arrival and begin preventive treatment immediately.

Geoffrey Martin, fourth-year medical student at UC, and his father Vincent Martin, MD, professor in the division of general internal medicine, UC Health physician and headache expert, led the study which showed that there was a 31 percent increased risk of headache and 28 percent increased risk of migraine for chronic headache sufferers on days lighting struck within 25 miles of study participant’s homes.

In addition, new-onset headache and migraine increased by 24 percent and 23 percent in participants.

“Many studies show conflicting findings on how weather, including elements like barometric pressure and humidity, affect the onset of headaches,” Geoffrey Martin says. “However, this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches.”

Participants who fulfilled the criteria for International Headache Society-defined migraines were recruited from sites located in Ohio and Missouri and recorded their headache activity in a daily journal for three to six months.

During this time, the location where lightning struck within 25 miles of participant’s homes as well as the magnitude and polarity of lightning current was recorded.

“We used mathematical models to determine if the lightning itself was the cause of the increased frequency of headaches or whether it could be attributed to other weather factors encountered with thunderstorms,” says Vincent Martin. “Our results found a 19 percent increased risk for headaches on lightning days, even after accounting for these weather factors. This suggests that lightning has its own unique effect on headache.”

He says that negatively charged lightning currents were also particularly associated with a higher chance of headache.

“There are a number of ways in which lightning might trigger headaches,” he says. “Electromagnetic waves emitted from lightning could trigger headaches. In addition, lightning produces increases in air pollutants like ozone and can cause release of fungal spores that might lead to migraine.”

“This study gives some insight into the tie between headaches or migraines, lightning and other meteorologic factors,” says Geoffrey Martin. “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.”

###

Other researchers involved in the study include Timothy Houle, Wake Forest Medical Center; Robert Nicholson, St. Louis University and Mercy Health Research and Ryan Headache Clinic; and Albert Peterlin, Environmental Rights and Releases Exchange.

The study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline.

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Somehow, when I see “The study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline.” I expect to see some sort of “lightning pill” coming to a drugstore near you soon.

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75 Responses to It’s not only ‘global warming’ that causes headaches, so does lightning it seems

  1. Moe says:

    ‘While we all know ‘global warming’ to be our major source of headaches here at WUWT, ‘ how can that be when everyone agrees it isn’t happening, or, it has happened, but is cooling, or it is happening, but it is normal?

  2. Gunga Din says:

    Somehow, when I see “The study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline.” I expect to see some sort of “lightning pill” coming to a drugstore near you soon.

    =================================================================
    Who needs a pill when we’ve got Jenny Craig?

  3. charles kaluza says:

    Convective weather changes many things in the air we breath. When people say they can smell the rain, they are probably smelling the increase in mold and bacterial spores. This is a common allergy trigger which can cause headaches.

    Old ENT Doc

  4. Bill H says:

    whats next…?? ” Saliva Causes Stomach Cancer… Only when swallowed in small amounts over long periods of time…” George Carlin…

  5. Mike Jonas says:

    Migraine or Nummular headache? Connection between Nummular headache and lightning has already been identified: http://thehumanfabric.umdnj.edu/?p=1796
    (Well, in Harry Potter, anyway)

    Seriously, though, does the study take into account the time from lightning strike to headache? (no web link that I could see). That could help to show whether it’s the lightning itself or the weather.

  6. Rud Istvan says:

    Hey Anthony. Please do not turn WUWT into the journal of junk science. There is lots of that. This one is too little of the quality science you have always promulgated.
    Much of the current peer/pal reviewed stuff is publish or perish junk, failing either the common sense test or the quality control tests that you have championed. Better filters even if less frequent postings, please.

  7. Gene Selkov says:

    I have a seasonal allergy (weed pollen) and somewhat regular headaches. Never had both at the same time. But I often have a headache against the backdrop of an atmospheric depression or a high-wind situation of any nature. In such situations, my father and I tend to have headaches simultaneously. I’m pretty positive lightning had nothing to do with it, and did not even co-occur. I tend to remember my headache episodes because they make me more sensitive to the environment.

    Just a data point.

  8. KTWO says:

    The much derided tinfoil hat may help.

  9. Bill H says:

    On a more serious note: It is a proven fact that areas of high EMF radiation causes uneasiness and tensing of muscles, It also affects the brain chemicals.. Ghost hunters use EMF detectors to identify areas of high EMF which are known to potentially cause visions and other unexplained phenomenon..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMF_measurement

  10. R. Shearer says:

    Not tonight, I have a global warming.

  11. Gene Selkov says:

    Rud, It is an interesting question whether the aches & pains indices published on weather sites are total junk or not. This lightning paper is almost certainly junk.

  12. Bill H says:

    Rud Istvan says:
    January 24, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Hey Anthony. Please do not turn WUWT into the journal of junk science. There is lots of that. This one is too little of the quality science you have always promulgated.
    Much of the current peer/pal reviewed stuff is publish or perish junk, failing either the common sense test or the quality control tests that you have championed. Better filters even if less frequent postings, please.

    =======================================================

    OH come on.. A little fun at the expense of the idiots who published this junk… Considering the amount of junk that is “peer Reviewed” and still gets by. This is just more to add to the “FAIL” file..

  13. Ray Tomes says:

    The manner in which this idea is dismissed by so many here shows a sad lack of understanding of the physical world. Lightning is intimately associated with the Schumann resonance ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schumann_resonances#Dependence_on_global_lightning_activity ) because the electrical field of the entire earth is vibrating at about 7.6 Hz and near multiples of that. Also, the Schumann resonance (and its multiples) are right in the middle of normal Human brain wave frequencies. The brain waves are electrical and it is well accepted that entrainment of brain waves is possible. I would have been very surprised if there was no connection between lightning and brain activity of all types.

  14. Bob says:

    Lightening will definitely give you a headache. I was struck by lightening in 1990. Sure enough I had a headache along with muscle aches and pains from a few burns.

  15. I admit I have this morbid curiosity of the dead body count of people freezing to death due to global freezing temperatures. Not because I enjoy seeing people die of freezing climate conditions, but because I like showing the Man-Made Global Warming Alarmists the folly of their religious ideology. The body bag count of people freezing to death in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere in the 2012-2013 winter seasons musy be over 1000 right now. I’d like to know the actual number. It’s what the Sun’s Doing Stupid!

    Cold Claims Over 300 Lives In Eastern Europe – Tens Of Thousands Without Power…Media Pretend It’s Warming!
    “The European media are just too embarrassed about having gotten it completely wrong when it comes to global warming. So they just continue pretending that the cold isn’t really happening. As people are freezing to death all around them this winter, they keep telling themselves (and us) it’s getting warmer! I’ve never witnessed such an astonishingly surreal situation.

    As hundreds of lives are being lost this winter, the media refuse to see it, talk about it, to believe it. Instead they keep telling the people something has to be done about the warming. They tell us about Australia 20,000 km away. This is like watching a weird Star Trek episode of a planet where people are walking around like zombies. Can someone send a doctor over to declare this media brain dead?

    To get the news about the deadly cold that is gripping Europe, Russia, Siberia and a large part of Asia, you really have to search beyond the flat-line mainstream media.”

    http://notrickszone.com/2013/01/22/cold-claims-over-300-lives-in-eastern-europe-tens-of-thousands-without-power-media-pretend-its-warming/

  16. u.k.(us) says:

    “During this time, the location where lightning struck within 25 miles of participant’s homes as well as the magnitude and polarity of lightning current was recorded.”
    ===========
    25 miles ?, does it happen before the storm/ or after ?
    I’m getting a headache just reading this post, with no lightning in the CONUS.
    But, it must be a relief to the study participants.

  17. johninoxley says:

    Maybe the “tinfoil hat brigade” are getting zapped by lightning? Obviously not, as then they would be enlightened and they are most certainly not.

  18. johninoxley says:
    January 24, 2013 at 7:53 pm
    “Maybe the “tinfoil hat brigade” are getting zapped by lightning? Obviously not, as then they would be enlightened and they are most certainly not.”

    Maybe the lightning is zapping the “tinfoil hat brigade” with critical thinking skills and calling out out the “Lying BS Brigade”?

  19. otsar says:

    Thanks for the post Anthony.
    There is way too much gravity. I needed some levity to counteract.
    These researchers should be encouraged to play a few rounds of golf in a thunder storm while wearing pointed metal hats.

  20. Tom Trevor says:

    How do they know it was the lighting and not the thunder?

  21. MattS says:

    Aside from the EM radiation from lightning, it’s not implausible that the static electric field surrounding a thunderstorm could affect the electrical activity in the brain.

  22. p.g.sharrow says:

    In my experience, the atmospheric conditions that can lead to lightning also causes increased sensitivity. However lightning strikes don’t seem to have any effect. Very high voltage fields seem to cause euphoria that sometimes results in a much later “hangover” headache. pg

  23. Sera says:

    I do get barometric pressure headaches, and there is no pain relief medicine that works. It comes from a ‘sudden’ change in pressure, and not a slow change where one can become acclimated with time. Lightning does not seem to be an issue.

  24. dlb says:

    I’m enjoying all the brainstorming going on over this article.

  25. Mike Jonas says:

    michaelwiseguy – excess winter mortality in the UK:
    1950/1951 106,400
    1951/1952 44,950
    1952/1953 82,670
    1953/1954 47,180
    1954/1955 64,670
    1955/1956 67,560
    1956/1957 29,080
    1957/1958 57,780
    1958/1959 77,920
    1959/1960 41,060
    1960/1961 68,880
    1961/1962 68,820
    1962/1963 89,600
    1963/1964 49,510
    1964/1965 41,730
    1965/1966 57,120
    1966/1967 25,990
    1967/1968 70,260
    1968/1969 50,630
    1969/1970 67,790
    1970/1971 34,110
    1971/1972 46,270
    1972/1973 46,630
    1973/1974 34,710
    1974/1975 31,920
    1975/1976 58,100
    1976/1977 34,590
    1977/1978 41,240
    1978/1979 48,490
    1979/1980 30,120
    1980/1981 32,900
    1981/1982 42,380
    1982/1983 42,820
    1983/1984 30,240
    1984/1985 47,380
    1985/1986 49,330
    1986/1987 26,370
    1987/1988 32,970
    1988/1989 21,160
    1989/1990 47,200
    1990/1991 37,940
    1991/1992 34,850
    1992/1993 25,650
    1993/1994 25,900
    1994/1995 27,290
    1995/1996 40,190
    1996/1997 47,690
    1997/1998 22,900
    1998/1999 46,840
    1999/2000 48,440
    2000/2001 24,840
    2001/2002 27,230
    2002/2003 23,970
    2003/2004 23,450
    2004/2005 31,640
    2005/2006 25,270
    2006/2007 23,740
    2007/2008 24,690
    2008/2009 36,450
    2009/2010 25,810
    2010/2011 26,080
    2011/2012 24,000
    from http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2011-12–provisional–and-2010-11–final-/ewm-reference-tables.xls worksheet ‘Figure 1′.

  26. Mark and two Cats says:

    Maybe they have it backwards – maybe headaches cause lightning.

  27. John F. Hultquist says:

    . . . migraine for chronic headache sufferers . . .

    Many of us non-headache-sufferers can argue that lighting nearby does not cause headaches. Lighting might trigger symptoms in a chronic sufferer but so might bright sun, loud noise, naughty children , …, and over cooked steak.
    A few years ago a dozen of us camped near a cirque lake in a small rock amphitheater. A storm passed overhead and lighting and thunder filled the area. After bouncing around for a little inside the walls the sound traveled down the valley until drowned out by the next crash and flash. We all agreed we were privileged to witness this awesome display. No one complained of a headache.

  28. Louis says:

    We definitely need a new law then. If we can prevent one headache by banning lightning, it will be worth it.

  29. Logan in AZ says:

    Biometeorology is the general field of study, and has been around for some time —
    http://globalbioweather.com/index.html
    As far as electromagnetic and solar effects are concerned, the classical figure is
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Chizhevsky
    –who is still highly respected in Russia.

    In more recent work, there seems to be a certain fraction of the population sensitive to high frequency noise on the normal 60 Hz mains supply. If you live near a cell phone tower, you should read Sam Milham’s book, Dirty Electricity. Milham is a MD and MPH who spent many years in bioelectric epidemiology, with no official support. The entire field needs more and better work, and industrial lobbyists are of course very dismissive.

  30. Leo G says:

    I found the research findings plausible, particularly the suggested link to nanoparticles. The earth’s electric field has a major role in consolidating fine particulate matter. It is reasonable to think that transient disturbances of the field would disintegrate consolidated particulates, increasing the concentration of finer particulates. Exposure to respirable particles is a challenge to the human general immune system and thereby impacts the vascular system.
    The full text of the article is available at http://cep.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/01/24/0333102412474507.full

  31. Strike says:

    I got headaches the last time a lghtning struck a shed near my hometown (within the 25 miles zone). A friend of mine, doesn’t believe, that there is a coincidence. He argues, that we’ve been to a seminar 500 Km away from home at the time of the lightning.

  32. Alex Heyworth says:

    Plants release lots of pollen when a storm is approaching. Pollen causes sinus inflammation and headaches. Problem solved.

  33. petermue says:

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

    Oh no, not again this correlation idiocy.
    It’s like the storks-babies correlation.

    Isn’t there anyone, who can engrave on their foreheads
    “Correlation is not causation!”

  34. Rabe says:

    “…a 31 percent increased risk of headache and 28 percent increased risk of migraine…”
    So they found nothing. See http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/RR.htm

  35. David Ross says:

    this may be nothing more than a case of confirmation bias

    Just as well you included those caveats Anthony, otherwise Greg Laden might accuse you promoting junk science. Oh, wait a minute, what am I saying. In Laden’s world, it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

  36. Steve B says:

    Watching thunderstorms is one of my favorite pastimes. Seeing the lightning flash across the sky can be breathtaking. Never had a headache from it yet.

  37. LearDog says:

    …..And we wonder why drug prices are high…..? If I were the manager having to defend funding of this in glaxoSmithKlein – I’d be more than a little concerned about my shareholders response.

  38. EcoGuy says:

    My family and I are regularly entertained by thunder etc around Syndey. Living at the top of valley does have it benefits sometimes. As regards headaches, none; in fact I’d say I probably feel better afterwards. Mind you I’m a bit weird, I used to live right by the coast and go outside during a storm to experience the fresh air.

    Maybe these researchers need to get out a bit more???

  39. ZootCadillac says:

    Initially when I saw the headline in the email link I received I thought that there might be something in this. I know for a fact that if I am outside before a storm arrives I will tell you it’s coming and I’m no weatherman or prescient.
    I get headaches almost every time there is a storm and sometimes the pain is searing. it’s like an early warning system. I suspect this is something to do with the change in air pressure.

    Having read the article now I certainly don’t agree that it’s anything to do with lightning. That’s just coincidental.

    @Rud Istvan your comment asking for Anthony not to turn this into a journal of junk science implies you think that it is a journal of good science. It’s not. It’s a blog where Anthony posts things that interest him and the readers are invited to discuss them in comments. Even junk science should be discussed and the discussion can still have merit and be enlightening* or educational.

    * does not cause headaches

  40. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    I dismiss all the warming related claims as garbage but I do know that some people have headaches just prior to an electrical storm because I have always suffered from this myself. The headache would start as the storm clouds gathered and the sky darkened. Once the lightening finished my headache would disappear. People often talk about the condtions leading up to a storm as being oppressive and afterwards as “clearing the air”. My headache just seems to be a particular reaction which some people experience.

    I don’t believe it is related to ozone. Ozone is poisonous but it would be created by the lightening which might be a couple of miles away. I was usually indoors and unlikely to be exposed to it. I have occasionally had exposure to low levels of ozone (unrelated to lightening) without ill effects.

    I’ve always assumed that the headache is some sensitivity to the electrical static charge build up in the atmosphere. A packet of air rising rapidly through stationary air creates the electrical charge by friction at the molecular level, creating ions. The lightening is the discharge. The build up in static seems to cause the headache and the lightening produces relief.

    It is possible that the headache is atmospheric pressure related. I have an open mind about that.

    I

  41. Lewis P Buckingham says:

    Alex Heyworth jan 24,2013 11;21 pm
    You are right.Raindrops falling on flowering pollinating plants drive the pollen into the air. Allergy sufferers that happen to be allergic to those pollens may get a sinus headache.Lightening often is associated with rain.
    Not sure if migraine sufferers without allergies were captured in the study.

  42. And do not forget “Frank N. Stein”

  43. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Although the huge electrical charge is developed in the clouds, an equal and opposite charge is induced on the ground, so as the storm passes overhead we become charged up just like our surroundings. Given the huge strength of the electric field and the delicate electrical complexity of the human brain, pehaps it is surprising that the majority of people are not aware of any sensation.

  44. Gene Selkov says:

    @Alex Heyworth & Lewis P Buckingham say:
    > Alex Heyworth jan 24,2013 11;21 pm You are right.Raindrops falling on flowering pollinating plants drive the pollen into the air.

    I have to ask you gentlemen whether you are talking from experience or theorising. Raindrops falling on flowering plants drive the pollen into the nearby water stream, where it stays pretty much forever. The only times during my allergy season that I can walk around without a mask are during a rainfall (however insignificant) and for some hours (sometimes days) afterwards.

    > Allergy sufferers that happen to be allergic to those pollens may get a sinus headache.

    They may. But normally, pollen-induced allergy does not affect sinuses (and I can’t imagine how it could). It affects the conjunctiva and the nasal mucosa (sometimes throat as well), and there it stops because the swelling of the mucosa shuts the sinuses off before anything can happen to them. If anything, allergy provides a relief from an ongoing headache, rather than causing it.

    In fact, I never had a headache coincide with any other ailment. From my experience, a headache is is a healthy person syndrome.

  45. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Having now followed the links I have a few more comments. I get the impression that the people being studied get rather a lot of headaches since they kept a daily log. I rarely get a headache (unless I get over-refreshed on the amber nectar) and where I now live electrical storms are very rare.

    My headaches are associated with the build up to the lightening, so like ZootCadillac above, I always know if thunder and lightning is going to take place. The headache preceeds the lightening which is why I think it is caused by electrical charge. Once the lightening starts dissipating the potential difference between clouds and earth the headache disappears.

    The paper discussed above implies that the lightening somehow causes the headache. This interpretation misses the point and could lead to all sorts of wrong ideas.

  46. Sera says:

    Here ya go- I get these usually before it rains…

    http://www.barometricpressureheadache.com/

  47. High Treason says:

    The usual warmist BS. Besides, High Treason will share with you how to get rid of many migraines easily, so the BS can be shoved down the sewer from where it belongs/originated.
    Many migraines are from sensory overload, especially the ones that wake you up at 2 AM at their peak(these are the easy ones to get rid of!) The 2 AM ones are largely from grinding teeth at night, overloading the proprioceptive inputs. (Yes, I am a dentist, not a neurologist)The system goes haywire and starts feeling all inputs, including the pulse of CSF in the brain, which is usually ignored-except when the migraine hits. Could it be that the extra sound and light inputs from the lightning put those with susceptibility over the edge?
    The trick is to reset the inputs, which requires concentrating on anything BUT the thumping headache, to get the pulsing CSF put on to the background stuff for the system to ignore. Pain is just an electrical impulse that the brain chooses whether to accept(ouch) or ignore..
    A stimulating phone conversation where you have to really concentrate on the reply works really well.. What is easier, but not quite as effective is to concentrate on some visual input- a detailed image-extract as much detail as you can .Make that brain concentrate TOTALLY on the task. 5 minutes and the system resets. For those with the discipline, a 100% distraction(eg about to smash your car) can act as an instant brain switch. Still get the hangover effect, but beats the horrible thumping. Ever notice that when you lie down and concentrate on the pain-“go you *&&^%^&* headache”, it gets worse?
    The 2 AM headaches I can knock off in as little as 30 seconds. First time I tried it, I was too lazy to go downstairs to pick up the little apparatus I knocked up with a strobe and film slide(Mk 1 knocked up the day I had the Eureka moment) and just stared at the 6 on the clock to pick out the detail and take my full attention. Out and snoring my head off in about 1 minute.
    This technique helps with other pain as well. Ever notice that the more you concentrate on most pains, the worse it gets?
    Another useful derivation of the technique is to rub the hands together to get a good friction heat and place over eyes(soothing anyway) and stare in to the blackness and random colour flashes.
    The technique is not patentable, unfortunately, but if someone can help me with the ap for phones etc, we can share the profits. My kids(one is almost finished computer science) refuse to help this computer illiterate make the simple program to put interesting images up (and other concentration tools.)
    The funny thing is that I used to get a lot of nasty migraines in my late school and uni days and was forever saying “whoever comes up with a cure for migraines will get a Nobel prize.” How ironic that I had that Eureka moment well after the frequency declined(with age.)

    So now, we can say that “global warming” or “climate change” or “climate variability” or whatever the buzzword of the season to con us to relinquish our freedom and way of life causes migraines, we can tell them that they can be easily cured, so it is irrelevant.

    If it is science, it isn’t settled. If it is settled, it isn’t science

  48. I have it on good authority that getting struck by lightning will cure most migraine headaches.

    Won’t help your hemorrhoids though. Sorry.

    – MJM

  49. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    This has nothing to do with warming, though I note that they arrived at their conclusion from models. I have no idea what they modelled or why they needed a model. If you are normally headache free and you get one when a thunder storm is imminent you don’t need a model to discover the connection.

  50. Peter Miller says:

    Alex Heyworth says:

    Plants release lots of pollen when a storm is approaching. Pollen causes sinus inflammation and headaches. Problem solved.

    That could explain it; many years ago in Johannesburg, South Africa, I had a friend who used to develop horrendous headaches a couple of hours before a storm, often when the sky was almost clear.

    Her headaches were uncannily accurate in predicting afternoon thunderstorms.

  51. ozspeaksup says:

    personal experience is I get joint aches before a change in the weather, like waking yeterday to a near 40C day with aches in my feet so bad walking hurt, that eased off but mid arvo I got that back plus hip pain, and a raging headache not sinus but rear of head. and an hour later the change started to blow over, there may have been lightning, was daylight and didnt have a radio going to pick up static as indicator.
    we are also magnetic in our cells so yes we can be influenced by external environment, watch bees and other critters like ants, watch horses sheep n dogs all react., All my animals were goofy yesterday am.
    why should we be different,? some react more than others, all I know is I was super happy as the stormclouds moved over and air pressure etc changed for the better..
    and is my ache reliable for weather forecasts, yes not a bad indicator, as good as aussie BoM anyway, maybe better,.

  52. Glacierman says:

    Lightning is extreme……extreme weather….therefore, caused by man-made CO2, or at least more powerfull and more frequent….either way, it’s our fault. The only way to stop it is to pass a law…quick.

  53. Keith A. Nonemaker says:

    It’s the thunder, not the lightning. As one who gets migraine headaches, I can tell you that loud noises are one of the most common triggers, and always at least an aggravating factor in migraines.

  54. Alex Heyworth says:

    In answer to Gene Selkov: partly from experience. partly from reading about it. The reason for pollens getting further into the respiratory tract during stormy weather is alluded to in this article http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/storms-trigger-asthma-explosion-as-pollen-fills-the-air-20111108-1n4qw.html. Rain ruptures pollen into smaller particles.

  55. _Jim says:

    Bill H says January 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    On a more serious note: It is a proven fact that areas of high EMF radiation causes uneasiness and tensing of muscles, It also affects the brain chemicals.. Ghost hunters use EMF detectors to identify areas of high EMF

    Sooooo 17th century … don’t you think with today’s MUCH more sensitive magnetometers and Hall effect devices we could possible CONFIRM the linkage between so-called ‘EMF’ effects and ghosts?

    C’mon … the only thought that comes to mind is “You’re being played” when I see such ‘reports’ …

    .

  56. H.R. says:

    Enquiring minds want to know; who in theee Sam Hill volunteered for this study??!?!!

    Researchers:
    “Go stand out in that field and when lightning strikes, tell us whether or not you have a headache.”
    Subject reports:
    “No headache, but after that bolt hit 20 feet away, I did have an involuntary bowel movement.”

  57. _Jim says:

    Schrodinger’s Cat says January 25, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Although the huge electrical charge is developed in the clouds, an equal and opposite charge is induced on the ground

    With charge separation occurring in the ‘cloud’ (due to the formation of precip and the presence of an ‘ice’ line) there then exists the two equal charges … the ‘mirror’ effect seen is then a result of a couple of effects, part of which is physical transportation of charge via precipitation and the other factor as you state, induced, but the induced or impressed value is a fraction of that existing in the ‘cloud’. Think: “Electrostatic circuits” and the ‘ground’ (actual earth) must enter into the circuit (or equation) somewhere!

    Next thunderstorm, take note of how much intra-cloud lightning takes place versus actual cloud-to-ground; If what you state were true, we would have nothing BUT cloud-to-ground lightning, and we don’t.

    Recommended reading: Any workes by Martin A. Uman who has studied and written about Lightning over the years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_A._Uman

    .

  58. Steve Bensen says:

    I get headaches when there are still clear skys but a storm is coming. Even before the storm forms my headache begins. I always assumed it was barometric pressure changes that caused theheadaches. It certainly is not lightning or thunder. Lightning doesn’t usually start until many hours later when the clouds move in and the rain starts to fall. This study strikes me as ludicrous; they may as well blame the headaches on the rising water in the creeks and rivers. Correlation is not causation.

  59. _Jim says:

    Schrodinger’s Cat says January 25, 2013 at 2:57 am\

    My headaches are associated with the build up to the lightening, [sic] so like ZootCadillac above, I always know if thunder and lightning is going to take place. The headache preceeds the lightening which is why I think it is caused by electrical charge. Once the lightening starts dissipating the potential difference between clouds and earth the headache disappears.

    Don’t see how that can happen, IOW, this doesn’t hold much water (unless you are standing out in a clear street or out in an open field away from structures each and every time headache onset occurs!)

    Playing around with an old JCI ‘field mill’ style Electrometer (similar to a model JCI 140, a device which measures actual, STATIC ELECTRIC FIELDS) I found that the ‘static field’ is ZERO anytime you’re in, or even under a structure, as when in a car (or even under a tree; now someone is bound to bring up the dangers of seeking shelter here so let’s discuss this case separately. if necessary, shall we?)

    Incidentally, one can measure the voltage of a battery using non-contact methods (no Galvanic contact whatsoever! No test leads required) using one of the more sensitive electrometers … once one is standing in the street or a near-open field (away from overhead structures or trees even) THEN one can see the ‘voltage’ building in a thunderstorm, but not when one is within or under a structure … in fact it’s interesting to watch the electrometer as a storm progresses, how the electric field changes, shifts polarity even! as lightning discharges take place.

    I can make a video of this effect if you want …

    .

    Ref:
    JCI 140 – http://www.chilworth.co.uk/jci-electrostatic-instruments/jci140-static-monitor.aspx
    .

  60. beng says:

    Yeah, lightning causes headaches, when it’s close enough to almost blow out your eardrums.

  61. _Jim says:

    PS. If ‘some’ of this were true (high potential electric fields producing headaches), just shuffling across the carpet in your rubberized tennis shoes should give one a good wallop of a headache!

    Remember those big sparks you could pull before installing that humidifier?

    .

  62. _Jim says:

    Leo G says January 24, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I found the research findings plausible, particularly the suggested link to nanoparticles. The earth’s electric field has a major role in consolidating fine particulate matter.

    Most of those, I think, end up either ‘in solution’ or suspended in the rainwater … perhaps they offer the ‘seeds’ by which rain droplets initiate.

    BTW, the earth’s nominal ‘electric’ field, except in the vicinity of thunderstorms, measures awfully weak …

    .

  63. _Jim says:

    ozspeaksup says January 25, 2013 at 5:21 am

    we are also magnetic in our cells

    BUT we don’t all stand aligned to uniformly face the N or S poles to exist in life … I am assuming the orientation of the magnetic poles in the cells is pretty much random, not having seen any research to the contrary, so I myself would be at a loss to attach any significance external influences from magnetic fields …

    (It seems an experiment of this nature exploring external mag field influences on lifeforms would seem to be trivial to perform, requiring only a number of ‘bar’ magnets or a large electromagnet to affect a test subject.)

  64. G P Hanner says:

    Without some kind of hypothesis of a link between lightning strikes and headache onset I’ll take this to be an example of correlation without causation. What other conditons are present when thunderstorms are nearby?

  65. Eugene says:

    (Wow, those computer models are SO good at making up linkages between SO many things…)

    I actually have a lot of respect for the University of Cincinnati, overall. Good engineering school, good conservatory of music, good teaching medical institution. I think this research is interesting, but I also have concerns — like Anthony — about “confounding variables,” as does G P Hanner. I’m not certain the researchers have adequately addressed/discounted/excluded the potential effect of visual stimuli of a thunderstorm (darkening skies and flashes of lightning in particular) that may cause some individuals with higher sensitivity to respond with a headache. We know that some people are very sensitive to the frequency of strobes, for example. A neighbor boy used to need very dark conditions to resolve his migraines; who says the reverse cannot be true for someone else.

    The fact that “[They] used mathematical models to determine if the lightning itself was the cause of the increased frequency of headaches or whether it could be attributed to other weather factors encountered with thunderstorms,…” should not be overlooked. We know so little about the human brain as it is: only in the past few years have studies confirmed that the brian development process does not generally end until a person is in his/her mid-20’s. That has major implications because prior to that the brain tends to focus more on reward than on consequence — which of course those of us with teenager children already suspected,… at least.

    BTW: This was one of the headlines at UC about a year ago (March 13, 2011)
    UC HEALTH LINE: Double-Jointedness Could Be the Cause of Your Migraine http://healthnews.uc.edu/news/?/12736/

    @Bill H: These are medical students and Medical Doctors giving us these fine conclusions, where’s your respect for that fine profession that’s also given us so much? [ / sarc ]

    Nice to have thoughtful commentary by readers who apparently have higher susceptibility to migraines and headaches, including: Schrodinger’s Cat & Keith A. Nonemaker.

    Give it a year or so and someone will probably come out with a study that says “no, that’s not it” just as we’ve seen with coffee, tea, chocolate, salt, fat and most other things…

  66. Alex Heyworth says:

    Steve Benson says

    I get headaches when there are still clear skys but a storm is coming. Even before the storm forms my headache begins.

    Steve, check out this weather underground fact page http://www.wunderground.com/health/pollenallergy.asp. Windy conditions that precede a storm stir up pollens, mold and dust.

  67. Alex Heyworth says:

    A tip for those who suffer from these headaches: a cold pack kept in the freezer then applied to the forehead can be a useful remedy. If it works, it will be much quicker relief than you can get from drugs.

  68. Gene Selkov says:

    To Alex Heyworth: I was aware of an earlier study that linked hospital asthma admissions to thunderstorms, but they did not find a link between pollen or spores and admission rate:

    http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/94/8/429.full

    It is admittedly a weak study because thunderstorms are very infrequent on this island, and so are asthma admissions, but if they haven’t found any correlation with the data they’ve got, it will probably be wise of them not to spend further data-gathering efforts only to find a weak relationship. If it is not something readily apparent, it is probably not important.

    If there is any demonstrable link between asthma and thunderstorms, I would rather explain it by changes in behaviour (say, more active ventilation) than stuff in the air. Hyperventilation always triggers asthma, even in clean air. You do not need allergies, pollen or any other contaminants to explain it. I can easily imagine people rushing to catch that bus or hustle for cover when they hear thunder or when the rain starts. Also, people typically hyperventilate when splashed with cold water. That alone can account for one or two extra admissions the town of the size of Cardiff can see on a rainy day.

  69. Kip Hansen says:

    This study demonstrates only what is wrong with modern-day epidemiology.

    It says nothing scientific about the causes of headaches.

  70. Gene Selkov says:

    Alex Heyworth says:

    > A tip for those who suffer from these headaches: a cold pack kept in the freezer then applied to the forehead can be a useful remedy. If it works, it will be much quicker relief than you can get from drugs.

    It does work for some people. That’s what my mom does and she says it helps her every time.

    When I have a headache and I am out of drugs, I can reliably cure it with a couple things that have the opposite effect to that of a cold pack. I can either walk until I am tired — it takes 3 .. 4 hours until I’m free of acute pain, and then I need to walk another hour or so to make sure it does not come back — or if I have that option, I take a hot shower for 30 minutes to an hour, with water falling right on my face and the top of my head (however unpleasant that is, still better than the headache). Neither of these methods ever failed to help, but I will rather take a liquid Ibuprofen capsule if I have it. It is cheaper and quicker.

    There are apparently different kinds of headache. If yours is a tension headache, ice on the forehead will only make it worse.

  71. Alex Heyworth says:

    Gene Selkov, there is an extensive literature of research on this topic (see http://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?hl=en&q=pollen+storms+asthma&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C5&as_sdtp=). While there is a variety of findings, much of the research supports a link between storms, pollen and asthma. It seems as though the link probably involves other, unknown factors (ozone levels? particular storm structures?) but there is definitely a link.

  72. Gene Selkov says:

    Alex Heyworth: Maybe. We started with headaches, touched allergies and digressed into asthma.

    Asthma is considered by many physicians to be a functional disorder. It can be caused by anything; it can also disappear without trace and never return. It’s a very fertile soil for links and associations.

  73. Alex Heyworth says:

    Gene, I agree that asthma was a bit of a red herring. Reread the thread and was reminded of your first post – your headaches certainly seem to be in the tension headache/migraine category. Haven’t had those for a long time, thankfully.

  74. schrodinger's Cat says:

    I don’t believe the pollen theory, My headaches began in the build up to an electrical storm, often before any rainfall and sometimes in the middle of the City of Glasgow where pollen was not an issue.

    As a warming sceptic and daily visitor to this site since long before ClimateGate1 (whenever that was, but in the early days of WUWT) It is fascinating to be on the receiving side of sceptism.

    However, i don’t mind that, I am well aware that people here are conditioned by a diet of doubtful science from the warming community and conclusions based on models have lost all credibility especially where poorly understood science is modelled and the output is given publicity in an attempt to scaremonger for political value or to secure further funding.

    However, at the end of this particular WUWT thread, let me assure you all that a small number of people get a headache when a thunder storm is imminent. It is not a big deal, just an interesting fact.

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