Seasonal Variation, Cranial Autonomic Symptoms, and Functional Disability in Migraine: A Questionnaire-Based Study in Tertiary Care

Headache. 2015 Sep;55(8):1112-23. doi: 10.1111/head.12613. Epub 2015 Jul 21.


Objective/background: Seasonal variation of migraine attack frequency has been described as a phenomenon. We aimed to compare functional disability and the occurrence of cranial autonomic symptoms (CASs) in patients who reported a seasonal variation in their migraine attack frequency with those who did not.

Methods: We conducted a questionnaire-based observational study on patients with migraine without aura who visited our institution from January 2005 to December 2013. Patient demographics, headache characteristics, and accompanying symptoms were recorded, and functional disability was evaluated by Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) Questionnaire.

Results: Of 4423 patients screened, 769 were eligible for analysis, and 104 (13.5%) of them reported seasonal variation. Several CAS features such as conjunctival injection (25.0% vs 14.0%), lacrimation (20.2% vs 10.8%), eyelid edema (20.2% vs 10.2%), forehead and facial sweating (22.1% vs 11.4%), and ptosis (23.1% vs 11.4%) were more prominent in this subset of patients. They showed higher MIDAS scores (15.4 ± 23.5) than the other migraineurs (10.4 ± 16.9), with a 1.77-fold increased risk (95% confidence interval 1.06-2.96) of severe functional disability (MIDAS score ≥21) after adjustment for age group, sex, headache frequency, intensity, and duration. The higher the number of CASs, the greater also was the proportion of patients with severe functional disability.

Conclusions: Patients who reported seasonal variation in migraine also reported more CASs and had more severe functional disability. The profound functional disability in the migraineurs reporting seasonal variation or CAS also provides direction for proactive clinical management in these patients.

Keywords: Migraine Disability Assessment; cluster headache; cranial autonomic symptom; migraine; seasonal.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Seasons*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tertiary Healthcare
  • Young Adult