The Link Between Migraines and Endocrine Disorders
What is a migraine?
A migraine is a debilitating type of headache that can last from a few hours to a few days. At the outset of a migraine, overactive nerve cells send impulses to the blood vessels, which triggers the release of certain hormones, such as serotonin, prostaglandins and estrogen. The release of these hormones causes the blood vessels near the nerve endings to swell, resulting in a migraine.
Links between migraines and endocrine disorders
The endocrine system includes glands that produce and release hormones. An endocrine disorder results from abnormal functioning of the endocrine system. Through ongoing studies surrounding migraines, researchers have identified a link between migraines and endocrine disorders, including thyroid disorders, obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance.
Specific connections between migraines and endocrine disorders include the following:
- Individuals with migraines have higher glucose concentrations than those without migraines. They are also more likely to experience insulin resistance.
- Obesity and high blood pressure increase the risk for developing both episodic and chronic migraines.
- Hypothyroidism increases the risk of having migraines, and migraines increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism.
- Migraines with auras are strongly associated with metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and excessive abdominal fat.
The potential for migraine control
Though additional research is needed on the specific link between migraines and endocrine disorders, the connection suggests potential migraine treatments. For example, if a person has insulin resistance, changes in diet to support blood glucose management may also help with migraine control. When obese individuals lose weight, they may experience improvement with migraines. If an individual has a thyroid disorder, migraines may be easier to treat once the thyroid disorder is treated.
Oftentimes, people assume that a migraine is not a major health concern. However, the information regarding a link between migraines and endocrine disorders may lessen the stigma surrounding migraines. Individuals with migraines or an endocrine disorder should be aware of this link and consult their health care professional or endocrinologist as needed.