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Migraines affecting your health

Recurrent migraines are correlated with higher risks of many other medical conditions, that may affect general health. Addressing migraine and headache pain may be key for bettering your overall health outcomes!

Migraines and headaches are linked to conditions affecting all different parts of the body, and can really cause issues if left untreated. Below is an outline of some of the many conditions that migraines increase the risk of occurring.

Depression and Anxiety

Those experiencing episodic or chronic migraines, have double the risk of suffering from depression. This is believed to be due to a common genetic predisposing factor between the two conditions. The link between migraines and anxiety is even stronger, with 50% of people already suffering with both concurrently.

Both of these conditions have a huge effect on the ability to maintain participation in day-to-day activities, particularly work and social commitments. Lack of participation in these areas is a further risk for increased disability and likeliness of developing a chronic condition. Treating migraines may be a simple step in the way to addressing the mental health conditions associated.

Stroke and Epilepsy

Strokes caused by blood clots are strongly linked to migraine with aura sufferers (double the risk). Migraine with aura is more common in younger women, who have a low stroke risk, so the risk of stroke is still low. However, it is important to consider the devastating effects of stroke and how critical it is to take as many precautionary measures as possible.

Epilepsy, like migraines, is a condition of brain excitability, with shared environmental and genetic causes. Suffering from either condition, increases the risk of suffering from the other.

Heart disease, Asthma and Obesity

Migraines are also associated with an increased risk for heart disease, even more so in those who have sensory symptoms or aura. This is thought that it may be associated with other factors such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and poor diet. Gaining weight can increase the severity or number of migraines if you are already suffering. Obesity can also trigger migraines in people who have never experienced one before. A link with inflammatory processing due to excess weight is related to the increased occurrence of migraines, whereby research has shown losing weight can significantly decrease the occurrence.

Similar to this, Asthma is a condition of inflammation in the respiratory tract, and migraines can be triggered due to inflammation surrounding the brainstem tissue (leading to sensitivity). The common factor of inflammation can increase the risk of bringing on asthma related symptoms.

Chronic Pain disorders

Chronic pain disorders including those such as fibromyalgia, chronic low back and chronic neck pain are more prevalent in migraine and headache sufferers. Part of this may be due to linked genetic predispositions, but also the sensitivity of the nervous system. Physiotherapists are leading health professionals in the area of reducing disability and addressing chronic pain in ways which allow maintenance of function and activity. In fact, current research shows that reduction of activity as a pain management technique in those with chronic pain may be contributing to worsening the condition!

Other less common conditions:

  • Restless leg syndrome – the link between RLS and migraines may be associated with neurotransmitters, which may also increase the risk of Parkinson’s Disease development with age.
  • Digestive issues – the digestive tract is known to have an influence on mood and shares chemical messengers with the brain. People suffering from migraines have increased likelihood of gastrointestinal tract conditions such as IBS, IBD, and celiac.
  • Bell’s Palsy – risk of temporary paralysis of facial nerves may be doubled in migraine sufferers, due to associated inflammatory reactions

If you are a sufferer of migraines or headaches, contact us today on 1800HEADACHE to get on top of your pain, and help to prevent the risk of developing any of the conditions listed above!


Gardener, A. (2018). Migraines Can Cause Higher Risks for These 11 Health Issues. Retrieved from:

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