University of Cincinnati researchers performed a study
with 90 local-area participants who met the criteria for migraines as defined by the International Headache Society.
Using headache logs recorded by the participants and weather data for the vicinity, scientists discovered
people were 28 percent more likely to suffer from a migraine on days when lightning struck within 25 miles of their residence.
The weather information was collected from eight censors designed to track lightning — three in Cincinnati, Ohio and five in St. Louis, Missouri. The censors measured both the location and the severity of each lightning strike.
In conjunction with the weather data, researchers analyzed the headache journals of the participants. The logs were kept for three to six months and participants ranged from 18 to 65 years of age.
Comparison of the journals with the weather data showed people were 31 percent more likely to experience some form of headache and 28 more likely to experience a migraine.
Study leader Dr. Vincent Martin
theorizes that the ozone and electromagnetic generated by lightning may be a potential cause.
"The other theory is that when these thunderstorms roll in they can create more allergy spores in the environment," Martin said.
Other risk factors for migraines include lack of sleep, dehydration and stress. However, Martin deemed the study a success.
"We're very surprised and very happy with the results in that this is the first study to link lightning to migraines," he said.