If you pay any attention to debates on any scientific subject, you’re bound to hear the term correlation does not imply causation. This commonly used phrase suggests that an observed correlation between two variables does not mean there is a cause and effect relationship between the two. Two commonly cited examples of this are:
- Ice cream sales are associated with increased drowning rates.
- Sleeping with shoes on is associated with morning headaches.
But before you worry that ice cream causes drowning, or sleeping with your shoes on causes headaches…you should know that summertime increases both ice cream sales and rates of swimming. It’s summer that increases drowning rates…not ice cream. And of course, sleeping with shoes on does not cause headaches, but going to bed drunk does.
So…now that you have a basic understanding of correlation and causation, you’re well prepared to read and enjoy this interesting article about the connection between migraine headaches and diabetes. The relationship might surprise you…
If you experience migraines on a regular basis, you probably don’t think that these blistering headaches could possibly be linked to anything good. However, research suggests that there may be a connection between migraine and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Read on to find out more.
What is a migraine?
Contrary to what many people may think, migraine isn’t merely an intense headache. It is often characterized by an aura of strange visual disturbances such as flashing lights and temporary loss of vision and may be accompanied by numbness and tingling on one side of the face. Symptoms are incredibly individualistic, however, and many people don’t experience the aura or numbness.
Regardless, a migraine headache will come with intense, pulsating pain that usually begins on one side of the head and will either stay there or encompass both sides. Migraine headaches can be accompanied by nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and may include nasal congestion.
Migraine is often inherited and can last a lifetime but is usually the worst between the busy ages of 25-55 while experts say it typically peaks between 30-39. This can be a debilitating illness that is associated with mental disorders like depression and anxiety and a higher risk of vascular disorders such as stroke and heart attack.
This doesn’t exactly sound like something that could be followed by good news, does it? Thankfully, science has shown that there could be a silver lining for migraine sufferers.
The good news
Recent research, published in JAMA Neurology suggests that women with active migraine may have a 20-30 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with no history of migraine. Researchers studied nearly 75,000 women over 10 years and noted the rise and fall of diabetes risk in association with migraine. When those with active migraine saw improvement in their condition and the headaches lessened in severity and frequency, they also experienced an increase in their chances of developing diabetes. This shows that migraines do, in fact, seem to have a protective effect against type 2 diabetes and proves that the research is not just circumstantial.
Though this was the first study to determine a conclusive link, headache specialists have long suspected a connection as their patients did not tend to develop diabetes as often as the general population. The exact reason for this occurrence, however, still eludes scientists. After all, migraine generally acts as a warning system and is usually triggered when the body responds poorly to external stimuli or something ingested such as alcohol. So how could it cause blood sugar and insulin function to improve and prevent diabetes?
Some experts suggest that elevated blood sugar levels could be protective against a headache (which is a flipped way of looking at cause and effect) or it could have something to do with CGRP, a protein molecule found in the body that is active in both diabetes and migraine and could indicate a connection.
How to prevent migraine
Just because migraines could be linked to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, doesn’t mean you should not take action to prevent these debilitating incidents. Living with untreated migraine can severely hamper your quality of life and prevent you from doing normal daily activities. Here are a few ways to get a handle on your condition today.
Migraine is usually triggered by something, so it is essential to identify what caused your headache and develop a plan to avoid it in the future. Common migraine triggers include:
- Weather changes
- Light exposure
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Hormonal changes such as menstruation
- Drop in blood sugar
Once you have isolated what causes your headaches, remove yourself from the situation, and try to prevent the circumstances that lead up to your incident.
Stick to a normal schedule
Stress and an unhealthy lifestyle never do any favors for your body. Stick to a regular routine with healthy sleep, whole foods, and daily, moderate exercise and try to avoid situations that cause undue stress.
Consult your doctor
If you experience persistent, regular migraines and are unable to find relief by avoiding your trigger; it is a good idea to consult your doctor. They will most likely prescribe medications such as beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Keep in mind; these drugs usually have side effects, so it is not a good idea to remain reliant on medication for an extended period.
-The UpWellness Team