What Your Skin Temperature Could Tell About Your Migraine

 

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Lower Temperatures At Body Extremities Could Indicate Migraine In Women (1)

A small scale study observing a women-only population of 41 Finnish women stated that skin temperatures in migraining women can be used as a bio-marker of vascular health since migraineurs are more at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases than healthy populations.

The study’s report published in Autonomic Neuroscience also observed that those with migraines usually have colder nose as well as hand and feet and that it could be attributed to abnormalities in the underlying blood vessels.

Here’s a quick look at the study statistics: (2)

  • Total women studied: 41
  • Those with migraines: 12; 10 with family history of migraines
  • Those without migraines: 29; 9 with family history of migraines

Out of the 12 migraining women 7 were found to experience right-sides migraines and 5 suffered the brunt of left-sided pains. The migraining population experienced visual aura. The study used digital infrared camera to measure skin temperatures in both migraining and control group. Temperatures of the cheeks, nose, forehead, fingertips and toes were taken for comparisons during headache-free periods.

The following results were obtained:

  • Women with right-sided migraines had higher blood pressure.
  • Women with right-sided migraines had lower hand and finger temperatures.
  • Compared to controls (healthy population) there was a 12 deg C (9 deg F) difference in temperatures at the fingertips and nose (extremities)

This could be explained by the fact that migraineurs often have constricted peripheral arteries or impaired functioning of the autonomic nervous system which in turn also makes them more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases.

The average temperature of the nose and hands was about 16 deg C (approx 3.6 degrees F) lower in migraine subjects than controls. Of the migraine patients, 58% had skin temperatures below 30 deg C (or 86 deg F), which is considered a normal skin temperature, in both the nose and fingers.

However, it must be noted that this study was not only small sized but also did not include men. Larger population studies including men and other ethnic groups should be conducted to come to a definitive conclusion. It however, does provide some indication to the direction in which medication development can be done. Biofeedback as an alternative medical therapy makes use of this skin temperature differential in migraineurs to manage pain episodes.

 SOURCES

  1. Image Credit: Business Woman Worried Stock Photo; freedigitalphotos.net; Web January 2014; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Business_People_g201-Business_Woman_Worried_p76375.html
  2. The Connection Between Migraines and Skin Temperature; The Wall Street Journal; Web January 2013; http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303497804579242423379994080

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