Migraine and Hypothyroidism: New Study Confirms the Connection

Back in May we were discussing the connection between headache and thyroid disorders (see Thyroid Headache). Thyroid and migraine, as we discussed, are comorbid – they seem to go together too often to be random.

Migraine and HypothyroidismA newly published study (Headache Disorders May Be a Risk Factor for the Development of New Onset Hypothyroidism) from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine confirms the relationship again – and shows that migraine patients in particular may be more prone to developing hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

The study came from a 20 year study of residents of Fernald, a town in the USA near a former uranium processing plant. Although no connection was found between the radiation and the hypothyroidism (although radiation is a known risk factor), the study had the advantage of having a good deal of information on a large population (8,412 people) over time.

The results were simple. Those with a pre-existing headache disorder had a 21% increased risk of developing hypothyroidism. Those with migraine had a 41% increased risk.

So in short, those with headache disorders and especially migraine are much more likely than the general population to develop hypothyroidism.

The moral of the story is that doctors and patients should be aware of the possibility. Migraine patients struggle with a number of comorbid conditions and strange migraine-related symptoms. It’s easy to write off the symptoms as a part of the migraine disease. But it may be that hypothyroidism is contributing, and that it could help ease those symptoms.

So watch for symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • depression
  • weakness/stiffness
  • weight gain
  • hair loss
  • irregular or heavy menstrual cycles
  • constipation
  • dry skin

. . . it could be that you’re missing a major part of your treatment because you’re not aware of new thyroid problems. (PS – remember that thyroid issues can show up in both men and women)

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