Seasonal variation in migraine

K B Alstadhaug, R Salvesen, S I Bekkelund
Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache 2005, 25 (10): 811-6
Our group has previously shown that migraineurs, as opposed to individuals with other headaches, are more likely to have headache during the bright arctic summer than during the polar night season. We set out to investigate the impact of seasonal light exposure in migraine with and without aura. We performed a questionnaire-based study of 169 female volunteer migraineurs in an arctic area where light conditions during summer and winter seasons are extreme. We included 98 patients with migraine with aura (MA) and 71 with migraine without aura (MoA). One hundred and seven patients (63%) reported seasonal variation in migraine attack frequency. Close to half (47%) of patients with aura, but only 17% of patients without aura, reported more frequent attacks during the light season (P < 0.001). Patients with MA reported interictal light hypersensitivity and light exposure as an attack precipitating factor significantly more often than individuals with MoA. They also reported significantly more frequent use of sunglasses to prevent attacks. We found no significant differences between MA and MoA as regards sleep disturbances, use of oral contraceptives, impact of headache or circadian variations. Seasonal periodicity of migraine in an arctic population with more frequent attacks during the light season is a convincing phenomenon in MA but not in MoA. The amount of light exposure seems to be pivotal to this variation.


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