Migraines are painful, but not knowing what causes them can be the most distressing part of being a migraine sufferer. Nonetheless, researchers are relentlessly searching for clues that will guide them towards answers. The most recent migraine related finding? Migraines could be linked genetically to irritable bowel syndrome. In a news release by the American Academy of Neurology this week, the author of the study, Dr. Derya Uluduz said “Since headache and irritable bowel syndrome are such common conditions, and causes for both are unknown, discovering a possible link that could shed light on shared genetics of the conditions is encouraging.”
The study included 107 migraine sufferers, 107 IBS sufferers, 53 tension head sufferers, and 53 people not suffering from anything. The results showed that the highest correlations fell between migraine sufferers and IBS sufferers. 54% of those with migraines also experience IBS, and 38% with IBS experience migraines. With tension headache sufferers, the results were 28% and 24%, respectively.
In addition to a high correlation of symptoms, IBS, Migraine, or tension headache sufferers had a genetic similarity as well: they all had at least one gene differentiation than those not suffering from any of the three disorders.
So, does this mean if you have IBS, you’ll likely experience migraines and vice versa? Well, not quite. "Discovering shared genes may lead to more future treatment strategies for these chronic conditions,” Dr. Uluduz said in the release. However, he noted that further studies are needed to find out more about the genetic links between IBS and Migraines. You can read the full news release here.
If you’re one of the 37 million migraine sufferers in the U.S., tell us what you think about this new study and possible link between migraines and IBS on our MigraineChecked social pages:
American Academy of Neurology, news release, Feb. 23, 2016