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Higher Temps Can Cause Severe Headaches, Study Says

If it's getting warmer out, it may be time to open the medicine cabinet. New research by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shows that higher temperatures can trigger severe headaches.

Doctors have long known that patients often complain of migraines when the weather changes. But there hasn't been large-scale clinical data to back that up. The new study finally provides that data.

Researchers looked at more than 7,000 patients over about seven years who went to the Beth Israel Deaconess emergency room for headaches. On the days they came in, the temperature was consistently higher relative to the same days of the week the rest of month.

Study author Kenneth Mukamal says it didn't matter if it was January or July.

"We did see the same effect, interestingly, both in the winter and the summer." says Mukamal, a physician in the division of general medicine and primary care at BIDMC. "So that warmer days, even in the winter, resulted in greater numbers of people being seen for severe headaches."

Mukamal says the findings could help people anticipate headaches and take medications to prevent them. The research, he adds, could also help doctors and patients better identify the source of headaches, which can also be caused by alcohol, stress, hormones, and certain foods.

The study appears in today's issue of the journal Neurology.

This program aired on March 10, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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