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Learning About the Thyroid and Headaches Relationship

portrait of brunette woman touching her head suffering a painful headache isolated over white background

If you experience constant headaches, you may need to see a doctor because you may already have hypothyroidism.

Many types of research have shown that a thyroid and headaches relationship exists.

The Link Between Your Thyroid and Headaches

The research observed at least 8,400 people for at least 20 years. It showed the relationship between headaches and thyroid disease. The study discovered that headache sufferers have a 21 percent increased risk of having hypothyroidism. Also, migraine sufferers have a 41 percent more chance of having a thyroid disorder.

In addition, hypothyroidism patients often had a long history of migraine attacks since childhood. It could show an inclination toward developing hypothyroidism. Furthermore, people with hypothyroidism can have an increased frequency of having migraines. From having occasional migraine episodes, they can even have chronic headaches.

However, there is a need for more research to determine the causes of the relationship between the two. Researchers must find out which of the two conditions have a more significant influence over the other.

The Comorbidity Between Hypothyroidism and Migraine

In 2013, research showed migraine sufferers had a 3 percent more chance of having hypothyroidism. Tension headache sufferers also have a 1.6 percent higher risk of having the said disorder. The researchers assessed the clinical records of 3,727 individuals. These patients were suffering from different types of headaches from 2001 to 2011. Moreover, 52 percent of the patients experienced a significant worsening of their head pains.

Headaches worsened after the start of the patients’ hypothyroidism and hormonal replacement therapy. Researchers could not determine the real cause of the worsening of migraines. They needed more studies to find out if it was because of the levothyroxine treatment. It is also possible that the hypothyroidism causes the headaches. Or, it could be both the treatment and the disorder.

Research showed that hypothyroidism is one of the different migraine comorbidities. But, it was not able to show the definite cause of the thyroid and headaches relationship. For more information on hypothyroidism and migraines, see our article here.

How Can Hypothyroidism and Headaches Coexist?

If your thyroid isn’t functioning well, this can cause your metabolism to slow down. Consequently, your body may not be able to properly absorb nutrients and thus retains more mucin glycoprotein and fluid. These substances cause swelling of the brain tissue and blood vessels and the cerebral hyperactivity that follows can trigger your headache episodes.

You may still experience migraine attacks even if your hypothyroidism is under control. You experience this because your brain becomes excited. Low thyroid hormone secretion causes the brain excitement, which triggers your headache attacks.

As for your tissues having excessive fluid, this may manifest in several ways. For example, you can notice difficulty in removing your ring. Or perhaps you may find that your feet become more prominent than before, so your shoes no longer fit. The mucous secretions can also accumulate in your brain, which can still cause prolonged headaches even if you do not suffer from chronic migraines anymore.

Difference of Hypothyroidism Headaches and the Other Types of Headaches

A hypothyroid headache is a constant, non-throbbing pain on both sides of your head. It is like a tension headache, but the severity can vary, depending on the individual. It does not result in vomiting and nausea, unlike with migraines.

Your hypothyroidism headache may fluctuate, depending on the function of your thyroid. If your thyroid deteriorates, your head pains become more severe. But, an improvement of your thyroid functions can reduce your headache episodes. Thus, proper treatment of your hypothyroidism can reduce, if not end, your headaches.

Getting the Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

While not every hypothyroidism patient suffers from headaches, it would be wise to seek medical help if you experience migraines. After all, you may have a thyroid disorder if you also experience its other symptoms. Getting a proper diagnosis and its corresponding treatment can resolve your recurring headaches. It can also address the other symptoms such as weight gain, hair loss, and fatigue.

You cannot treat your thyroid disorder alone. You must seek an accurate diagnosis from a qualified physician. It is, after all, possible that your thyroid may not be the cause of your constant headaches. If this is the case, your migraines may worsen if there is inaccurate self-diagnosis. Your doctor can determine if you have thyroid dysfunction and treat it accordingly.

You may feel exasperated by your headaches. Thus, you must see your doctor to improve the quality of your life. You can get appropriate treatment for both your hypothyroidism and head pains.

How Can Hypothyroidism Treatment Improve Your Headaches?

Researchers discovered that effective hypothyroidism treatment causes a sharp reduction of migraine attacks. Thus, they often view migraine conditions from the neurologists’ point of view. When you have hypothyroidism, you also experience undue stress, anxiety, and depression.  Worse, emotional turmoil may also trigger migraine attacks.

Fatigue is another symptom of hypothyroidism. It is also a common headache trigger. Stress and fatigue cause brain excitability because your body cannot rest or relax. An effective hypothyroidism treatment will reduce your fatigue and improve your metabolism. Treatment lowers migraine attacks and promotes the quality of your life.

Still, you must seek proper diagnosis and treatment. Research has already established the thyroid and headaches relationship, so you need to make an informed decision.

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