Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What is the Relationship between Allergies and Migraine Headaches?

I have had a headache for the past two days.  It feels like some one at unpredictable times is hitting the right side of my skull with a chisel about every 10-15 minutes.  The pounding has continued, despite taking Tylenol, Advil and resting lots.  I went to bed at 8:45 pm (very early for me).  I tossed and turned all night, because I kept waking up with the same headache.  This leads me to my topic for the day: headaches.  
The black box is your body.  The red circle is allergies, which is present in 20-25% of the general population.  The green circle is migraine headaches, which is present in 10-20% of the general population.  Both are common disorders, so it is common for one person to have both.  But are they related?  The short answer is: sometimes, as represented by the yellow area.  What I can't demonstrate in this diagram, because I am such a tool with using programs, is that there are some important variables.  First, the area of overlap can be small or very large.  In the latter case, allergies and migraines are highly related.  This is important to know, because treatment of one disorder could by "killing two birds with one stone" improve both disorders.  Second, the sizes of either circle can vary, representing the size of the person's problem.  For example a person may have a small circle for allergies and a large throbbing circle for headaches.  Third, the causative nature can't be indicated on the diagram.  For example, often I am asked if allergies can cause migraine headaches.  Sometimes.  Then by treating allergies, the migraines are reduced or prevented without using specific headache medications.  This situation is actually preferred because the "kill two big and closely related birds with one stone" situation really exists.  Some patients I have seen with this situation effectively prevented migraines with firm and persistent allergy treatment.  Their medication use, symptoms, and missed work or school were all decreased.
Back to me.  More ibuprofen and rest until this passes.
Your Fatigued Allergy Dude

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