Headache can increase the risk of hypothyroidism

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Headache can increase the risk of hypothyroidism

A new study led by University of Cincinnati College of Medicine researchers, has found that migraine sufferers are more likely to suffer from thyroid problems, in particular hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism refers to insufficient production of thyroid hormone in the body. It causes fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, constipation, and irregular menstrual cycles. Andrew Martin and colleagues   Conducted a study to examine health outcomes of residents near a former uranium processing plant in Crosby Township, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati. The study looked at 8412 patients enrolled in a medical monitoring project.. Researchers found residents in the area with pre-existing headache disorders had a  increased risk of developing new onset hypothyroidism by 21%, while those with possible migraine had an increased risk by 41%.

The data showed migraine sufferers were particularly susceptible to hypothyroidism and the most likely to develop this disorder. Although the conditions are rarely life-threatening, these can lead to decreased quality of life if not treated well.

The investigators also found that smoking was very protective against the development of hypothyroidism in all patients with headache. However, it is not at all recommend to smoke inorder to prevent hypothyroidism. Radiation is a risk factor for hypothyroidism, but no association of uranium exposure and thyroid disease was found in this study. There are several reasons that explains the link between headache and hypothyroidism. The immune system is activated by headaches and this could predispose the person to developing hypothyroidism in the future. Stress induced headaches could further induce this as well as other environmental or genetic factors. How these two disorders interact with eachother remains unknown.

It is possible that the development of hypothyroidism in a headache patient might further increase the frequency of headache as past studies have found that treatment of hypothyroidism reduces the frequency of headache. Regardless, physicians should be more vigilant in testing for hypothyroidism in persons with headache disorders.


University of Cincinnati (UC) Academic Health Center

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Original title of article:

Suffering from headaches? You may be at increased risk for a thyroid condition


Andrew Martin

University of Cincinnati (UC) Academic Health Center
Exploratory, Headache, Hypothyroidism, Head, Thyroid, Screening Questionnaire
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