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HeadWay Issue #229 - Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Migraine
April 20, 2024

In this issue:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Migraine

Highlights from Headache and Migraine News

Say what?! Heliocobacter pylori (H. pylori)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Migraine

A new study looked at the connection between inflammatory bowel disease and migraine. This is something you'll want to watch out for.

We'll talk about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in a moment, but let's take a quick look at the study, which was published in January. The authors recognize that IBS tends to be higher among migraine patients, but their question was, does IBS develope or increase in migraine patients? In other words, does having migraine first increase your risk?

The answer seems to be yes. After 5 years of follow-up, researchers did find an increasing amount of IBS among migraine patients. In short, patients with migraine should watch for signs of IBS, and think about avoiding things that may further increase their risk.

So what is inflammatory bowel disease?

You've already figured part of it out. IBS is a disease of (chronic) inflammation of the intestines. It's an umbrella term that can refer to other diseases:
  • Ulcerative colitis: This disease involves ulcers in the large intestine and rectum.
  • Crohn's disease: Inflammation typically in the small intestine, though it can involve other areas.
Symptoms include ongoing diarrhea, cramping, fatigue, bloody stool, and a loss of appetite/weight.

IBS may only involve mild symptoms, but if you notice some of the above symptoms, talk to your doctor. IBS symptoms can interfere seriously with life, and complications can become quite serious.

Various factors increase your risk, but researchers today believe that problems with the immune system are key in causing IBS.

IBS Treatment

There is no known cure for IBS, but there are a number of treatments, including lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery.

Migraine patients should be watching for changing symptoms (men should especially look out for ulcerative colitis) and think about possible changes they can make to avoid making IBS worse. For example:
  • Seek a specialist to help you treat migraine. Although the link between migraine and IBS is still uncertain, it's possible that quality treatment of migraine may help avoid future health issues.
  • Quit smoking. In the case of Crohn's (and a host of other health issues), smoking seems to be a risk factor.
  • Be cautious of NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen). If you're taking them frequently, you should be looking at other treatments and preventatives for migraine and headache. Also, be cautious about acohol while also taking NSAIDs.
  • Be careful of refined foods, and consider omega-3 supplements (try a Carlson brand such as these softgels or even a cod liver oil) and probiotics to improve gut health.
In the end, IBS is complex. If you're noticing symptoms, you should see a doctor. Gut health and head health are closely connected - it's important for us to pay attention to our general health as we continue to fight migraine and headache.

More information:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Mayo Clinic)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Johns Hopkins)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (+ 7 Natural Ways to Help Relieve IBD Symptoms)

Highlights from Headache and Migraine News

A few recent articles to check out:

Say what?! Heliocobacter pylori (H. pylori)

In the conversation about ulcers (sores in your small intestine or stomach), we often talk about how spicy foods might make things worse, or how certain medications (such as NSAIDs) might be a cause. But a very common cause is heliocobacter pylori (H. pylori).

H. pylori infection has been linked to a growing number of diseases (including cancers), and is quite common.

Your doctor will design a treatment plan for you based on your specific situation. But to prevent infection, make sure you're washing your hands and eating properly cleaned and cooked food and drinking clean water.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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