Cluster Headache: Seasons and Temperatures

Do changes in temperature trigger periods of cluster attacks?  Researchers in Taiwan say yes, but the connection may not be as simple as you think.

Cluster headaches come in clusters.  After a period with no headaches, these short-term and incredibly painful sharp burning headaches come and go, lasting only a few minutes to three hours.  (For more on cluster, see this graphic)

Researchers are trying to get a better understanding of what exactly triggers cluster, and some of this research has focused on weather patterns.

In a study published in the journal Cephalalgia, the focus was on the temperature and the changes in seasons.

The study confirmed that autumn is the worst season for cluster patients.  The fewest attacks happen in winter, with spring and summer being in-between.

Interestingly, the transition from autumn to winter and from winter to spring were also common times for clusters of cluster headaches.

Researchers also found that certain changes in temperature tended to increase the likelihood of cluster attacks.  Higher temperatures were worse, but also changes in temperature following a warm period.  You can read more about their findings here:  Temperature variation and the incidence of cluster headache periods

Although a fairly large study, because it was done in Taiwan it could be that there are seasonal factors there that would be different in other parts of the world.  However, this isn’t the first time that autumn and early spring have been marked as a bad time for cluster patients.  And the further investigation into temperature may give us an idea about why certain times of year are worse for some.  The more we know, the better we can prepare for and treat these cluster periods.

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2 comments… add one
  • Julie Sep 28, 2014

    I just started another cluster last week, just as I did last fall at about the same time. I seem to get about 2 a year lasting about 2 months (or so) each, the other start time is the end of Feb/early March. I felt like I’d just finally climbed down from the one that started last Feb when this one hit me.

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