Headache expert Dr. Vincent Martin-- professor in the division of general internal medicine and University of Cincinnati Health physician -- and his son, Geoffrey Martin, a fourth-year medical student at UC, showed there was a 31 percent increased risk of headache and 28 percent increased risk of migraine for chronic headache sufferers on days lighting struck within 25 miles of study participant's homes.
The study published in the journal Cephalalgia, found new-onset headache and migraine increased by 24 percent and 23 percent in participants when lightning occurred.
"Many studies show conflicting findings on how weather, including elements like barometric pressure and humidity, affect the onset of headaches," Geoffrey Martin said in a statement. "However, this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches."
Study participants recruited in Ohio and Missouri, who fulfilled the criteria for International Headache Society-defined migraines, recorded their headache activity in a daily journal for three to six months.
The location where lightning struck within 25 miles of participants' homes, as well as the magnitude and polarity of lightning current, were recorded.
"We used mathematical models to determine if the lightning itself was the cause of the increased frequency of headaches or whether it could be attributed to other weather factors encountered with thunderstorms," Vincent Martin said. "Our results found a 19 percent increased risk for headaches on lightning days, even after accounting for these weather factors. This suggests that lightning has its own unique effect on headache."