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How the Bad Air Causes Headaches – How to Prevent It

How the Bad Air Causes Headaches – How to Prevent It
in Neurology

Apr 19, 2022

It is well known fact that poor air quality affects our health and all of us should be aware of this. These symptoms could be experienced within just a few hours or several days after breathing polluted air. Most commonly we see respiratory symptoms like coughing, sore throat, recurrent chest infection etc. along with higher incidence of heart and brain stroke in polluted area. A very common symptom that we should not ignore is headache due to poor air quality.

Air pollution can trigger headaches:

Chemical exposure and specific environmental irritants are well known headache triggers. Patients with recurrent headache disorders such as migraine often complaints that poor air quality aggravate or trigger their headache. These complaints could be seen across the spectrum of headache severity, ranging from increased frequency or duration of headaches to an increase in the occurrence of more severe headaches that result in emergency department visits and even hospitalization.

Bad Air Causes Headaches

Air pollutants might serve as an irritants of structures innervated by the trigeminal nerve leading to headache onset. These are cigarette smoke, carbon monooxide, propane, natural gas and many air pollution gases. Available evidence supports the idea of a positive association between levels of some outdoor air pollutants and increased severity, frequency or medical consultation rates for headache and Migraine.

Research proves that air pollution can trigger a migraine:

It is studied at Santiago province in Chile, which is one of the best places to conduct a study to look for association between headache and air pollutant due its high population density and its location in a valley surrounded by mountains, which makes it extremely prone to pollution. Researchers investigated the effects of various pollution factors including ozone, carbon monoxide, air pollutants and particulate matter associated with burning gasoline and other fossil fuels, on all types of headache. They found that migraine was the type of headache most consistently associated with individual air pollutants. Looking on single pollutant,  ozone was the pollutant most consistently associated with headache.

The cost of air pollution on health:

This suggests that pollutants are environmental irritants that make people very prone to have headache requiring medical help and increasing health cost burden. If this association proves to be causal, the morbidity from headache should be included when estimating the illness burden and economic costs of air pollution. Even if its effect sizes is small, headache is a highly prevalent condition and the public health impact of it is very significant.

How to prevent a headache from air pollution?

Based on the finding, we could suggest that headache sufferers stay indoors on days of high pollution, avoid any air pollutant headcahe trigger which is present outside as well as inside of the house. In case of severe headache, take medical opinion and help. Overall, most important point is to look for sustainable, clean energy without sacrificing our environment and our quality of life.

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