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.”

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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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Moe

‘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?

Gunga Din

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?

charles kaluza

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

Bill H

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

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.

Rud Istvan

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.

Gene Selkov

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.

Gene Selkov

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.

KTWO

The much derided tinfoil hat may help.

Bill H

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

R. Shearer

Not tonight, I have a global warming.

Bill H

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..

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.

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.

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/

u.k.(us)

“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.”
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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.

johninoxley

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

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”?

otsar

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.

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

MattS

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.

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

Sera

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.

dlb

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

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’.

Mark and two Cats

Maybe they have it backwards – maybe headaches cause lightning.

John F. Hultquist

. . . 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.

Louis

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

Logan in AZ

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.

Leo G

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

Strike

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.

Alex Heyworth

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

Gene Selkov

@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.

petermue

“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!”

Rabe

“…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

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.

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.

LearDog

…..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.

EcoGuy

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???

ZootCadillac

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

Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

Schrodinger's Cat

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

Lewis P Buckingham

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.

And do not forget “Frank N. Stein”

Schrodinger's Cat

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.

Schrodinger's Cat

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.

Sera

Here ya go- I get these usually before it rains…
http://www.barometricpressureheadache.com/

High Treason

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

I have it on good authority that getting struck by lightning will cure most migraine headaches.
Won’t help your hemorrhoids though. Sorry.
– MJM

Schrodinger's Cat

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.

Peter Miller

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.

ozspeaksup

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,.