Medical Conditions Associated with Migraines
The presence in a patient of two or more medical conditions at the same time does not necessarily imply a causal relationship between the conditions. However, a positive association between the two conditions is implied.
Certain conditions are found more frequently in migraine sufferers when compared to people who do not suffer from migraine attacks. Diagnosing these coexisting conditions is important for proper treatment. When appropriate, a physician may prescribe one medication to treat both disorders, if the drug is suggested for both.
Strong evidence supports the coexistence of migraines with the following conditions:
- Of migraine sufferers, 6% are epileptic, a value that is more than ten times the prevalence rate for the general population.
- In one study, individuals and their relatives who are diagnosed with epilepsy were found to be approximately 2.4 times more likely to have migraines than the control group.
- In another epilepsy study, 20% of epilepsy patients also suffered from migraine headaches. About 16% of these people experienced epileptic seizures before or during migraine aura.
- While most migraine sufferers do not have epilepsy and most epileptics do not suffer from migraines, these findings indicate a significant overlap of these two conditions.
- Among adults who suffer from migraine headaches, the annual incidence of strokes is estimated at about 3 individuals per 100,000.
- The link between migraine and stroke seems to be particularly strong in young women: Women migraine sufferers under the age of 45 have a risk of stroke that is four times greater than the risk for women without migraines.
- For women who smoke and suffer from migraines, the risk of stroke is even higher.
In several studies, elevated prevalence rates of depression were found in migraine sufferers in comparison to the general population.
- As with depression, anxiety disorders were found to occur with greater frequency in migraine sufferers compared with nonmigraine sufferers.
- Among the anxiety disorders, panic disorder frequently coexists with migraines, particularly in males. In an individual, increasing frequency of panic attacks increases the likelihood of concurrent suffering from migraines.
- Some studies suggest that people who experience generalized anxiety disorder or phobias suffer from migraines with greater frequency than the rest of the population.
Other Coexisting conditions
- People suffering from the bulimia nervosa, the binge-and-purge eating disorder, or those with a family history of bulimia are more likely than the rest of the general population to experience migraine headaches. In one study, 39% of migraine sufferers had signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa.
- A condition characterized in part by muscle aches and fatigue (fibromyalgia), was found to be associated with migraines.
- Use of illegal drugs or nicotine is associated with migraines, particularly migraines with auras, or classic migraines.
- Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, and diabetes may be associated with migraines. Studies show that dietary therapy to regulate blood sugar was often effective in improving the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
- Some evidence suggests a possible link between migraines and a common, usually benign, heart condition (mitral valve prolapse) or the circulatory disorder (Raynaud's syndrome).