May 15, 2016
The Connection Between Obesity And Migraine Headache

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, those with chronic migraine are known to have a reduced quality of life and serious discord in interpersonal and work relationships. While scientists are better learning how to treat the disorder that is thought to be vascular, neurologic, psychogenic, and influenced by hormones, they are also discovering connections between migraine headache and other physical and psychological issues.

It is possible that obesity is worsened by a failure to vividly remember meals. [Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]
[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]Now there has been a correlation discovered between obesity and migraine headache. It is important to remember that correlation does not equal causation and does not mean that every person who has migraine headaches is obese or will become obese. It simply means that statistically, obese people are more likely to experience migraine headache. What is obesity? Currently, medical literature describes it as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, although some sources say that BMI measurement is outdated and may lead to erroneous diagnosis of obesity if someone is more muscular than average. However, under current guidelines, a full third of the United States population reaches the definition of obese, and that number is expected to only increase in time. The United States is the most overweight country in the world, with other industrialized nations like Australia close behind.

Because migraine headache and associated symptoms cause a significant amount of missed work time and lack of productivity, many realms of society are invested in finding correlations and treatment for migraine. Migraine is more common in people aged 25 -55 and is more prevalent in women, although either sex and any age can be affected. Migraines can last hours to days, and vary in severity, but most people in recent studies say that they are unable to perform typical daily activities, such as work or childcare, during a migraine episode.

 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

According to Bold Sky, the link between obesity and migraine may be an interplay of hormones. Because visceral fat cells, which are common around the midsection of the human body, are associated with inflammatory markers that may have hormonal influence, researchers have been noting if people with migraine experience the same type of inflammatory markers. It appears that they do, and therefore, the more fat storage they have in their body, the more potential for inflammation that affects the hormones known to induce migraine headaches. One study suggested that people who are obese are 81 percent more likely to experience migraine than non-obese people due to the interplay between hormones, inflammation, and vasculature in the head. This does not mean that all overweight people will get migraine or that all migraine sufferers are overweight, but it does mean that obesity is a risk factor for migraine headache.

In many people, obesity can be considered a modifiable risk factor - or one that people have some degree of control over. This may be through common means like diet and exercise or weight loss surgeries such as bariatric procedures. For some, however, particularly those with hormonal imbalances, weight loss is extremely difficult and likely worsened if migraine is a factor because exercise, activity, and light can exacerbate symptoms of migraine headache.

While all people may not be helped by weight loss if they suffer from migraine headaches, many may be. Particularly those who have refractory migraine (that which continues to come back despite traditional treatment methods), weight loss may be a plausible solution to decrease the amount of inflammatory markers in their body. As with any diet and exercise program, one should seek expert medical advice before embarking on a weight loss journey. Hunger and low blood sugar can be migraine triggers, so careful attention must be given to calories consumed and the intervals in which they are consumed.

[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]