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Fewer Headaches for Gluten-free Celiac Patients?
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
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Celiac.com 05/28/2015 - A number of studies have shown than many people with celiac disease, including women and children, have issues with headaches, especially migraines. This also true for people with inflammatory bowel disease.
People with celiac disease who follow a gluten-free diet report having having fewer headaches, and recent research supports a relationship between a gluten-free diet (GFD) and a reduction in headaches—especially migraines—in people with celiac disease.
Gluten's connection to neurologic problems in people with celiac disease is well known, but its connection with headaches and the gluten-free diet is controversial. Recently, Ameghino LucÍa, of the Neurology Department at FLENI in Buenos Aires, Argentina and his colleagues conducted a survey of patients. They reported the results at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Washington, DC.
A total of 866 people who completed the questionnaire met the criteria. Of those, 24% reported headaches as their main symptom after a celiac disease diagnoses. The team used the "chi square test" or "Mann-Whitney test" to analyze the survey.
The subjects reported different types of head pain, including tension-type headaches (TH), reported by just over half, migraine with aura (MWA), reported by 15.4%, and migraine without aura (MWOA), by 32.5%. Upon further examination the researchers revealed that neurological symptoms were more often found in MWA patients than TH.
They found that patients with severe headaches generally had better gluten-free diet compliance, at 77% overall, compared to 66% for those with milder manifestations.
Furthermore, the study revealed that those with the best gluten-free diet compliance experienced less severe and frequent headaches. For example patients MWA showed nearly a 50% reduction in headache frequency when they followed the diet.
These results suggest that the strict adhesion to a gluten-free diet could benefit celiac patients who experience headaches. However, they say more studies are needed to determine whether a gluten-free is beneficial for migraine in general.
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