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Weather and Emergency Room Visits for Migraine
Headache in Ottawa, Canada
Villeneuve PJ, Szyszkowicz M, Stieb D, Bourque DA
Posted: February 2006
Background: Self-reported surveys have indicated that weather can trigger migraine headaches. However, to date,
we know of no previous study that has examined the relationship between weather and emergency room (ER)
visits for this condition.
Objective: To examine associations between ER visits for migraines and selected meteorological conditions within
the 24 hours preceding the visit.
Results: Precipitation-related weather events (fog, snow, rain, thunder) were not associated with migraine
visits. Similarly, no associations were observed with changes in atmospheric pressure, wind speed,
and relative humidity during the 24 hours preceding presentation. No statistically significant
differences in the frequency distribution of clusters defined by relative humidity, atmospheric
pressure, and temperature were found between case and control intervals. Conversely, a mean wind speed
in excess of 19 km per hour was associated with a reduction in ER visits 8 to 18 hours later.
Conclusions: Our findings provide little support for the hypothesis that ER visits for migraines are related to
weather conditions occurring within the 24 hours preceding presentation. These results should be
interpreted cautiously as some comparisons are based on a small number of cases, and ER visits for
migraine may represent a highly selective group of patients who suffer from this condition.