Migraine symptoms and how to treat them
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Hypothyroidism is an endocrine system disorder where the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the hormones needed to regulate metabolism. While it may not cause any noticeable symptoms in the early stages, superintendent Pharmacist Carolina Goncalves, from Pharmica, warns that one common complaint in adults could signal the condition.
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped organ nestled in the tissues of the neck. It wields power over many of the body’s functions, notably the metabolism, by instructing cells in the body when to consume oxygen and nutrients.
It does this by secreting hormones such triiodothyronine, T3, and thyroxine, or T4.
In recent years, growing research has pointed to the possibility that migraines may be an early warning sign of hypothyroidism.
One study showed that, compared to the general population, people with a history of migraines have a 41 percent increased risk of new onset hypothyroidism.
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Carolina noted: “New findings exploring the role of migraines as a possible risk factor may help to identify more effective prevention and treatment options in the future.
“Severe headaches and migraines are common symptoms of an under-active thyroid, which can make establishing cause and effect complex.
“One explanation put forward is that migraines can cause a repeated inflammatory immune response that disrupts thyroid function and contributes to the onset of hypothyroidism. However, it’s important to emphasise the necessity for more research to further validate and explore the nature of this link in more detail.”
Migraines are an intense type of headache typically accompanied by other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and visual problems.
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Recent literature has shown that not only is migraine more common in hypothyroidism, but that treatment with thyroid medication can result in a decrease in headache frequency by almost 78 percent.
Studies suggesting that women are disproportionately affected by migraines state that they often experience unilateral pain accompanied with nausea or vomiting.
Carolina explained: “Women are significantly more likely to experience hypothyroidism than men, roughly five times more likely.
“Women are also more likely to experience migraines than men due to menstruation and consequent hormone fluctuation.”
Risk factors Although just about anyone can develop hypothyroidism, you’re at an increased risk if you are a woman, older than 60, have a family of thyroid disease, or have an autoimmune disease.
Carolina noted: “One of the most significant risk factors increasing the likelihood of the onset of hypothyroidism is having an existing autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
“The reason behind this is the increased tendency for the immune system to attack the thyroid gland – decreasing the production of the hormone thyroxine which is essential in the role of controlling metabolic function.”
SymptomsThe NHS notes hypothyroidism shares many symptoms with other conditions, making it easy to confuse with something else.
The health body notes: “Symptoms usually develop slowly and you may not realise you have a medical problem for several years.
“Elderly people with an under-active thyroid may develop memory problems and depression. Children may experience slow growth and development, and teenagers may start puberty earlier than normal.”
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Being sensitive to cold
- Weight gain
- Slow movements and thoughts
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle aches and weakness.
Although occasionally the condition may resolve without treatment, sometimes, when symptoms of the condition persist, treatment might be necessary.
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