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8 Health Risks Linked to Migraines

 Are you one of the 30 million people in the United States who suffers from migraines, three-quarters of whom are women? The pain is constant, frustrating and it can be debilitating. Furthermore, besides having to worry about a headache itself, migraines have also been linked to other health issues. But knowing the risks associated with migraines can help you take precautions.
health risks linked to migraines

1. Stroke

About one-third of migraine sufferers say that a headache is accompanied by aura-visions of flashing lights, patterns, or spots, alongside numbness or tingling in your face or hands. If these symptoms are familiar to you and you are a woman between 35 and 45 then you have a higher risk of ischemic stroke. In addition, some evidence shows that blood platelets are activated and clotting risk is increased.

Both hormonal birth control pills and smoking increase your risk for clotting issues. Therefore, women who suffer from migraines should use a barrier method of birth control, such as condoms, and of course, shouldn't smoke. Studies have also shown that older adults who suffer from migraines and light up a cigarette are also three times more likely to suffer a stroke. 

2. Heart trouble
health risks linked to migraines

Migraines may also boost your risk for heart disease, according to research in the European Journal of Neurology. So far, no further recommendations aside from avoiding smoking and birth control have been added. However, migraine sufferers with known cardiac problems need to be careful with popular migraine medications, namely triptans. These meds constrict blood vessels in the brain, and in the heart. 

3. More migraines

Migraines beget migraines. It is therefore important to try to stop them. Migraine sufferers may have a 'hyperexcitable' brain. This means that even small disruptions can lead to headaches. So things like missing a meal or drinking coffee when you usually don't, or a poor night's sleep can trigger a migraine.

It is therefore vital for migraine sufferers to avoid disruptions to their normal schedule and behaviors. Also, watch out for your working habits. After 90 minutes of work, get into the habit of getting up and doing something else for a couple of minutes. Then, at the end of your workday, take the rest of the evening off. 

4. Fibromyalgia
health risks linked to migraines

About half of those with this chronic-disorder - which causes widespread muscle pain and tenderness - can also experience migraines, according to research in the journal Headache. As of yet, it is not clear why, however, the two conditions share similar root causes, including the body's ability to control pain. As these two health issues go hand in hand, it is important to talk to your doctor if you suffer from migraines or fibromyalgia. 

5. Depression

Migraines occur more frequently in people who have bipolar disease and depression. In both situations, there is a genetic predisposition to having a hyperexcitable brain. According to research conducted, the more likely you are to experience frequent headaches, the more likely you are to be depressed.

However, it is still not clear whether headaches directly lead to depression. But your lifestyle goes a long way toward elevating your mood and preventing migraines. A great way to control the issue? Take a daily 20-minute stroll outdoors and get lots of sleep at night. Both of these decrease brain excitability, helping you to avoid migraines and the blues. 

6. Anxiety
health risks linked to migraines

50% of people who suffer from chronic migraines also struggle with anxiety. A chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more episodes per month. Experts believe that some people develop anxiety as a result of the burden of living with chronic migraines. However, they also believe that the brain sends chemical messages from one neuron to another, and this may play a role. 

7. Bell's palsy

A study conducted in 2014 published in the journal Neurology revealed that people who suffer from migraines are twice as likely to develop Bell's palsy, a condition that induces facial paralysis. After keeping tabs on more than 100,000 people, half of whom suffered from migraines, a team of Taiwanese researchers discovered rates of a nervous system condition called Bell's palsy nearly doubled among those who suffered from migraines. Still, according to researchers, it is not clear how migraines and Bell's palsy are connected, though they believe that inflammation, heart issues, or blood flow problem could link the two. 

8. Parkinson's
health risks linked to migraines
If migraines are accompanied by an aura - flashes of light or visual floaters - you are at a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to research from the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD. This is especially true if you suffer from migraines during your middle age years. While the causes of migraines are still being debated, study authors say issues with the neurotransmitter dopamine may play a role. Furthermore, the study authors speculate that dopamine is also disrupted in people with Parkinson's. 
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