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Can Hypothyroidism Cause Migraines?

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Jun 6, 2014 7:00:00 AM


The thyroid gland is truly a wonder of human anatomy. This small endocrine organ produces and secretes two of the most important hormones related to the healthy functioning of our bodies: Thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These two hormones affect vital physiological processes such as core body temperature control, production of proteins and overall metabolism.

Thyroid gland disorders are connected to a number of health conditions. In the case of migraine patients, a sluggish thyroid gland can exacerbate their incidence of headache episodes, but the link between these two conditions is not as physiological as expected.

How Migraines and Hypothyroidism Coexist

The connection between deficient production of thyroid hormones is subject to a couple of scenarios. The purely physiological hypothesis posits that inadequate thyroidal function results in a slower metabolism, which in turn causes the body to retain fluid and mucin glycoprotein. This process eventually causes swelling of blood vessels and brain tissue, which can result in cerebral hyperactivity that can trigger a migraine episode.

Even with hypothyroidism under control, patients can still fall victim to migraine attacks, particularly if they suffer from chronic migraines with aura. Low metabolism does not necessarily have to play a part, but the negative impact that low thyroid hormone secretion can have on neurotransmitters can cause the brain to become overly excited and trigger a migraine.

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Edema as a Prelude to Migraines

Excessive fluid accumulation in human tissue is known as edema. Endocrinologists who treat patients who suffer from both thyroid disorder and migraine conditions often notice the presence of edema either before they experience an aura or go through a cephalalgia phase. This edema can usually be observed in lower extremities as patients notice that their shoes suddenly fit very tightly or that their wedding bands do not come off very easily.

The accumulation of mucous secretions and other substances that lubricate human tissue is not limited to hands and feet. Brain tissue edema can cause prolonged headaches even on patients who do not suffer from chronic migraines with auras.

How Treating One Condition Can Improve the Other

Medical researchers know with certainty that the effective treatment of hypothyroidism in patients who also suffer from migraines often result in a sharp reduction of headache episodes. This improvement supports the basis for looking at migraine conditions purely from a neurological point of view.

Hypothyroidism is not the only condition that is linked to migraine headaches. Depression, anxiety and undue stress are the most common migraine triggers, and they also happen to be associated with the emotional turmoil experienced by patients who suffer from hypothyroidism.

Another common migraine trigger that is often caused by thyroid disorders is fatigue. Extreme exhaustion and the stress that ensues from not being able to rest or relax tend to produce physiological changes that lead to cerebral excitability. The effective treatment of hypothyroidism seeks to improve metabolism and reduce fatigue, thus reducing migraines and promoting quality of life.

*Image courtesy of

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Topics: Causes

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