How to deal with a barometric pressure headache

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A barometric pressure headache is triggered by changes in the pressure of the atmosphere. The barometric pressure is air pressure which changes depending on the weather condition or altitude.

The headaches can be classified into non-migraine and migraine-type which depends on the symptoms and sensitivity of pain which varies from person to person. It also depends on changes in the environment and health condition of the person. Other factors such as tension, stress and use of caffeine and nicotine can cause the symptoms of a barometric pressure headache.

Symptoms of a barometric pressure headache

  • Barometric pressure headache ranges from minor discomfort to severe pain which manifests once in a while that lasts for 4 hours to several days.
  • The headache can be unilateral which affects only one side of the head or bilateral where both sides of the head are affected.
  • A sensation similar to a tight band of pressure placed around the head.
    Barometric pressure headache

    Barometric pressure headache ranges from minor discomfort to severe pain which manifests once in a while that lasts for 4 hours to several days.

  • Severe discomfort and pain can be felt in the forehead and nasal bridge area and a throbbing sensation felt at the back of the head.
  • Sometimes, it can occur in the form of a cluster headache which causes symptoms such as runny nose, sweating, nasal congestion and redness of the eyes and swollen eyelids.

Causes

  • People performing activities such as flying, mountaineering and going to places with varied level of elevation.
  • Headaches can be caused by weather related conditions such as temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.
  • Fluctuation in the barometric pressure can cause changes in the oxygen level and result to constricting and dilation of the blood vessels in the area of the head. There is pain caused by swelling of the blood vessels that impinge on the nerve fibers of the brain.

Treatment

  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen to lessen the pain caused by a barometric pressure headache.
  • Apply alternately a hot and cold compress on the affected area especially the head, face, neck and the upper back at least 15 minutes to lessen the pain.
  • If headaches occur with a runny nose, take the prescribed medication.
  • Irrigation of the nasal passages using saline water to get rid of the accumulated mucous is a good way to deal with barometric pressure headaches. This treatment lessens the imbalances in the pressure and headaches.
  • Massage gently the neck area to relieve the knots, swelling and also promotes proper circulation of blood in the area.
  • Caffeine can be used to treat barometric pressure headache since it functions as a vasoconstrictor and lessens the frequency of the headaches.
  • In a bowl filled with hot water, inhale the hot steam coming from the hot water to relax the blood vessels and surrounding muscles.
  • Perform some relaxation techniques such as aromatherapy, meditation and yoga since they help relax the body and lower the blood pressure.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep the body well hydrated and prevent headaches.
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  • All canadianfirstaid.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.