The term sounds scarier than it’s meant to be- migraine comorbidity. Comorbid illnesses are any conditions that occur at the same time. Depression and migraines are comorbid disorders, just like migraines and fibromyalgia. Sometimes, the reasons for migraine comorbidities are clear; other times, they require some scientific inquiry.
The definition of migraine comorbidity
Literally, comorbidity means any diseased condition that comes along with another. Medically speaking, comorbidity is the presence of one (or more) diseases or conditions in addition to a primary disease or condition. Migraine comorbidities are any conditions outside of migraine symptoms that occur frequently with migraine sufferers.
Migraine comorbidity may happen for many reasons:
- Shared genetic risk factors may cause you to have neurological illnesses together, such as migraines and epilepsy.
- An underlying disorder may be the root cause of two secondary conditions, such as migraines headaches and depression caused by serotonin activity.
- Shared environmental risk factors influence migraine comorbidity, such as seizure and headache resulting from head trauma.
- One condition may cause the other. Migraine attacks cause nausea and diarrhea, resulting in gastrointestinal disorders.
- Lastly, conditions comorbid with migraine disorder may be coincidence.
Why are migraine comorbidities important?
Understanding migraine comorbidities help us to understand migraines- why they happen, and how to treat them. For example, by connecting two seemingly unrelated conditions together, like migraines and epilepsy, scientists discovered that certain drugs for epilepsy (Topamax) could be used to prevent migraines.
On the flip side, comorbid conditions like depression may hinder our understanding of migraines by producing a cyclic relationship. (Does depression cause chronic pain, or does migraine disorder make you depressed?)
Acknowledging migraine comorbidities helps your doctor decide which migraine treatments to prescribe, and which migraine drugs to avoid. Knowing that a migraine patient also suffers from cardiovascular disease is a valuable tool in diagnosing migraine causes.
What are common migraine comorbidities?
The list of ailments that occur with migraines is long- here are some of the most frequent conditions that are comorbid with migraines:
- Mental health: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and bipolar disorder
- Neurological: epilepsy, essential tremor, Meniere’s disease
- Cardiovascular: stroke, heart attack, congenital heart defects, hypertension, Raynaud’s disease, mitral valve prolapse, and patent foramen ovale
- Autoimmune: asthma, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and allergies
- Gastrointestinal: IBS, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, chronic vomiting, diarrhea, nausea
- Nocturnal: bruxism, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and insomnia
Please tell us…
Do you have a migraine comorbidity that is not on this list? Are there any conditions mentioned here that you didn’t know correlated with migraines?
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Read more about migraine comorbidities: