Celiac Disease and IBD Increase Risk of Migraines - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 07, 2013

Celiac Disease and IBD Increase Risk of Migraines

Anyone who’s experienced a migraine knows exactly how horrible and debilitating they can be, often confining a person to a dark room for anywhere from five hours to three days. And although the causes of migraines are fairly unknown, a recent study has found that those with celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at greater risk of getting severe and frequent migraines than those without any type of digestive disorder.

Migraines, which are caused by abnormal brain activity, can result in throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Prior to the study, the only known migraine triggers included stress, visual stimuli (such as blinking lights), and even particular foods.

As it turns out, the new culprits that may be causing migraines can do more than limit the foods a person is allowed to eat. Almost a third of people with celiac disease and over half with a gluten sensitivity reported migraines. Additionally, almost a quarter of those with IBD also said they have frequent and severe headaches.

Although it seems like a far stretch to say that chronic inflammation in the digestive system would impact activity in the brain, there’s a simple reason as to why it might occur. For one, celiac disease has been previously linked to different types of neurological disorders, including nerve damage, which may trigger migraines. Also, since gluten causes malasborption of nutrients in those with an intolerance to the protein, it can lead to deficiencies of vital nutrients, such as magnesium, which has also been linked to migraines.

So what can those with celiac disease or IBD do to relieve migraine frequency and severity?

As it turns out, the answer may lie in a gluten-free diet.

Cutting out foods that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley, rye, and food additives, has been found to help many migraine-sufferers. As a result, you might benefit from embracing a gluten-free diet, which includes the following:

  • Beans, seeds, nuts (unprocessed)
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh meats, fish, poultry (not breaded, marinated or covered in batter)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Buckwheat
  • Flax
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Gluten-free flours, such as rice, soy, potato, bean, and corn
  • Quinoa
  • Tapioca
  • Anything labeled “gluten-free”

Crozer-Keystone offers a range of board-certified physicians who are trained in the latest technologies and procedures to comprehensively diagnose, manage and treat gastrointestinal and liver conditions. For more information or to make an appointment, visit http://gi.crozerkeystone.org or call 1-877-CKHS-GI1 (254-7441). Crozer-Keystone offers direct-access colonoscopy scheduling, which means that a separate consultation visit at a physician’s office may not be required for qualified individuals.




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