Migraines more likely for people with coeliac disease

Interesting study concludes that migraine headaches are more likely to plague people with coeliac disease than those without it, according to new research.


What's your personal experience? Have you always experienced migraine type headaches? Did they become less frequent when you started following a gluten free diet?

15 Replies

  • I used to get attacks where my vision would turn into a pattern of sharp swirling starry patterns (sounds like some cool hippy trip, man) and I had to stop working, take a paracetemol, and go somewhere cool and dark until it cleared. The paracetemol stopped me getting a throbbing head the following day. If that was migraine, yes. I used to get migraines. Sometimes they were initiated by seeing a sudden glint of bright light, like the sun's reflection.

    After being diagnosed I asked if this 'migraine' was related to coeliac and was told that it wasn't. I now can't remember the last time I had an attack but it must have been just after going GF. I used the get them day after day sometimes.

    I was also found to have high blood pressure at the time I was diagnosed with CD, and take meds for it. I wondered if the 'migraine' was caused by the high blood pressure, not the CD.

    My work for the past 30 years has involved using a computer permanently and I often used to think the 'migraine' was a result of wearing unsuitable glasses or not wearing them and sitting close to the screen. I now wear intermediate lenses that only make everything around my desks clearly visible. A great improvement.

    So my 'migraine', if that is what it was, could have been fixed by a) going gluten free, b) getting the blood pressure down, or c) changing the way I look at my computer screens.

    If CD and migraine are related, I'm glad.

  • I forgot to mention; around the time I got diagnosed with CD I had also given up drinking at least 5 mugs of strong coffee every day, thinking it was causing what I thought at the time was 'IBS'.

    Maybe the coffee was causing the migraines.

  • I'm not a diagnosed coeliac (though heavily suspect I am one) and I get the visual migraines with the flashing lights but not the actual headache, though I feel a bit weird afterwards. I've been getting these for about 15 years and have never known what caused them.

    I've got a chronic B12 deficiency and I tend to get them when I'm low in B12 or just stressed/tired, and have occasionally had one when I've done heavy exercise on an empty stomach. My optician believes they are connected to being low in B12.

    They often seem to start off after looking at a bright light. After reading philaustin's post above, I realise I also look at a screen all day so it could be connected - I never had these until I a couple of years after I started working on a job using a computer.

    In the run-up to going gluten-free (when I was feeling very bad with fatigue and brainfog symptoms I put down to the B12 issue, but which disappeared when I went gluten-free) I had these very frequently. Since going gluten-free they haven't totally gone away but I haven't had one for months.

  • Yes this strikes a chord with me too!

    I'm 44 and never suffered from migraines but had the odd few completely out the blue whilst at work,got the same symptoms as mentioned flashing blurry vision and my speech even went once!!abit scarey!

    I was diagnosed as a coeliac about 6 years ago so maybe it's related?

    Anyone know why this is?

  • I was diagnosed with coeliac disease around seven years ago, I found this article really interesting because I have started getting migraines, a few years ago, was told it was due to the menopause, but my vision gets blurry and the headaches can make me feel quite sick, I get them atleast two or three times a week,

    I cannot pin point what kicks them off and if anyone has any ideas would love to hear your comments . sue

  • I started having migraines when I was about 18 - which could last up to 3 days - had terrible aversion to light so had to stay in dark room, complete with the nausea, also had all the symptoms of CD but was diagnosed as IB.

    It is only as I've gone GF that the migraines got much milder and less frequent (I was previously having at least one a week) Now I'm also dairy free the migraines are far less severe or frequent.

    GF & DF is a small price to pay for ridding myself of those terrible migraines!

  • Sorry Suebo - I meant to give you some of my triggers; bright or flashing lights in shops (when a fluroescent tube needs replacing). Certain smells will set them off especially perfumes or aftershaves.

    When my body is low on salt - I know sounds funny! Sometimes if I take a little salt and a drink of water I can clear one.

    After stress I will get one too!

    I think we are all individuals but knowing our own triggers can be learnt from other's experiences- hope this helps!

  • I have had Migraines for years, (since a child & to date) but they have changed in ferocity & frequency. I Menstrual migraines (before & after) therefore presumably hormone related as well as other types of Migraine ie exhaustion/stress related.

    Many of the things you and others have mentioned especially smells will set me off. I have found that cutting down on dairy really helps as does strangely having salt (even salty chips from a nearby Mc Donalds!!! when I cannot keep anything down/bear cooking smells at home). Originally before notably knowing I has IBS / CD, I would often keep a packet of Ritz Crackers by my bed-side as I thought both the fat & salt content in them seemed to help; maybe that's where the chips now come in?

  • This is just what I have found with the salt - and yet the idea was scoffed at - often - when mentioned to health professionals.

    Having McDonald chips when out shopping and knowing that I couldn't drive home if the migraine didn't clear was the first time I became aware that salt helped me.

    I am so pleased to hear that another has been helped in this way. I know migraines can be different for individuals - ours sound similar as smells also set your off.

  • Ive suffered from migraines since childhood,classic migraines,flashing lights,slurred speech,numbness on the left side of my face and down my left arm.Luckily theyve become less and less frequent as i got older,so i never associated them with coeliacs disease.Now i,m thinking maybe there is a link.Ive also been told stress is a big contributor to migraines.Most migraine sufferers find out their "trigger" and try to avoid the situation if possible.

  • I have had migraine 'type'headaches for years- I was told it was as a result of a neck injury. Just before I went Gluten Free I was getting terrible headaches that would last for two or three days at a time, then have a gap of sometimes only a couple of days and then the headache would be back. I tried new glasses, blamed it on computer work and then Hurray! The moment I went Gluten free the headaches stopped. I have been GF for about a year now and havent had a single headache since. Deep joy.

  • Wow! lately Im finding out that all the ailments I have all come from having CD. I started getting visual migraines about a year ago and it really freaked me out. Ive had them start when using my laptop mainly so it must be something to do with the light from it. They only last for about 20 mins and i get no pain whatsover its just more of an annoyance especially when at work because you know you cant do alot for the next 20 mins. I was quite worried about these so i looked them up on the net and I even found a video showing what i see. At least it made me feel like I wasnt nuts and didnt have something seriously wrong with my head or eyes. I have also found over the last couple of years I suffer terribly with foot cramps and restless legs (which is another weird thing i never knew existed) and there was me thinking I didnt really suffer to much with cd! doh!

  • I've had migraine since I was 11, and was diagnosed coeliac when I was 32. The headaches did subside for a while, but have become more frequent again since I started taking HRT. There seem to be lots of triggers - stress, alcohol, chocolate etc

  • i had migrains or very bad headaches for 30 some years as long as it took to diagnose cd with in 2 weeks of going on a gf diet i was and still am free of pain. i always got pain on day trips out when i put sandwiches up wheat bread dont need to be a brain sergen to work that out. aiways at the doctors to be given painkillers. glad its sorted.

  • I was only diagnosed CD about 12 years ago but can track symptoms like digestive issues and folate deficiency anaemia right back to very early childhood (I am also a very short adult who was late entering puberty). However I have hardly EVER had headaches and never had anything that could be described as a migraine. Having poisoned myself for nearly 40 years unkowingly without experiencing severe headaches as a symptom maybe there is some other explanation in lifestyle and dietary choices linked to gluten malabsorption that explains the increased rate. I had a low diary intake as seemed unable to cope with milk cheese and yoghurt until after going gluten free and also had very low caffiene intake as I never liked the taste of coffee or cola.

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