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    Headaches Are a Common Feature of Celiac Disease

    Jefferson Adams
    • Celiac patients have high rates of idiopathic headaches. Therefore, patients with headache of unknown origin should be screened for celiac disease.

    Headaches Are a Common Feature of Celiac Disease
    Caption: Image: CC--kizzbeth

    Celiac.com 11/26/2018 - Many people with celiac disease suffer from headaches. A team of researchers recently set out to more thoroughly explore the relationship between celiac disease and headaches. The research team included Panagiotis Zis, Thomas Julian, and Marios Hadjivassiliou. They are variously affiliated with the Academic Department of Neurosciences, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield S10 2JF, UK, and the Medical School of the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK.

    The team's goal was to establish the relationship between headaches and celiac disease, and vice versa, to explore the role of a gluten-free diet, and to describe the imaging findings in celiac patients affected by headaches. 

    For their systematic review and meta-analysis, the team reviewed 40 articles published in the the PubMed database between 1987 and 2017.  They included information regarding study type, population size, the age group included, prevalence of celiac disease among those with headache and vice versa, imaging results, the nature of headache, and response to gluten-free diet. 

    They found that the average pooled rate of headaches in celiac patients was 26% (95% CI 19.5–33.9%) in adult populations and 18.3% (95% CI 10.4–30.2%) in pediatric populations. The headaches usually resemble migraines. Children with headaches of unknown origin, have celiac disease rates of 2.4% (95% CI 1.5–3.7%). There is presently no good data for adult populations. 

    In such cases, brain imaging can be normal, but can also reveal cerebral calcifications with CT, white matter abnormalities with MRI, and deranged regional cerebral blood flow with SPECT. 

    The good news is that a gluten-free diet seems to be an effective treatment. Up to 75% of celiac patients saw their headaches resolve when they followed a gluten-free diet.

    Celiac patients have high rates of idiopathic headache (that is, headaches of unknown cause), and patients with such headaches have higher rates of celiac disease. Therefore, patients with headache of unknown origin should be screened for celiac disease, since they may gain symptom relief from a gluten-free diet.

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    Hi Friends:  This is only my second posting on this site so I hope I can help as much as I benefit from your posts. This article that addresses headaches is a good start.  I for one am still experiencing headaches from intracranial pressure due to inflammation.  My MRI showed white lesions in my cerebellum several  years ago.  The neurologist didn't mention them but reading my files during my studies of gluten issues, there they were.  I read more about where a leaky brain is affected and that the neurological issues were called "gluten ataxia".  I have never had GI  problems, and so didn't know I was ill until I was about 55.  I first had RLS probably due to poor nutrient and mineral absorption.  Then starting 5 years ago, I have beaten kidney failure, 4th stage metastatic carcinoma of my tonsil, had 20 lymph nodes removed, chose no radiation and then 2 1/2 years ago had a NSTEMI myocardial infarction (heart attack).  I have suffered severe dermatitis herpatiformis (sp?) and beaten that. Then, not too long ago, found out  that I was hypothyroid. Resolving that. What has endured are the neurological symptoms.  Since  all of my physiological symptoms, I believe, have been from ingesting gluten, dairy  and eggs, I have now found why my headaches are continuing.  Back to RLS, the first sympton:  Drs put me on clonazepam and carbidopa/levo.  I have been on those meds for 17 years.  I should have been on clonazepam for 2 to 4 weeks.  I AM A BENZO ADDICT.  I am a new member of Benzobuddies.  More than 50,000 subscribers and so many were prescribed benzos just to  flipping sleep with the RLS (possibly due to gluten intolerance and malabsorption of iron).  Sucks.  The  list of benzos is long.  Ambien and Zanex, klonopin and lorazepam just to name a few.  If you are your loved ones have been put on these drugs for symptoms of celiac issues or for any other reason, please take action.  The longer one uses the worse the symptoms, the harder it gets to get off.   Boy, was that a rant.  All because wheat finally hit the fan!!! Good luck and thank you for reading.

    Edited by karla a winston

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    Before going gluten free 31/2 years ago I used to suffer from migraines on a weekly basis; I used to dread rainy weather because that's when they would get really bad. I'm pleased to say that I have not had a migraine in almost 3 years & I no longer hate the rain :)

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    I have been gluten free since being diagnosed with celiac about 20 years ago (I'm 66 years old). I have headaches about 5 nights a week. They wake me up after sleeping about 4 or 5 hours. I've been to a neurologist and have been told that the headaches are caused from the arthritis in my neck. These headaches usually start at my neck and generate to the whole left side of my head to my temple and above the left eye. I exercise daily and am in good physical shape. I have osteoporosis from going misdiagnosed for so many years. When finally diagnosed, my villi was flat, so my body had not been absorbing the nutrients it needed for years. Everything passed right through me😒 How do I make these headaches stop?

    Edited by Kathy M
    • Upvote 1

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    Guest Linda

    Posted

    I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2009.  I had more headaches after going gluten-free.  By trial and error, I discovered it was nightshade vegetables that gave me the headaches.  A lot of gluten free baked goods have potato starch, which is a night shade.  Paprika is another one that is added to a lot of foods and in condiments.  So this is another food group to think about eliminating if you are still having headaches.

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    Guest Carole

    Posted

    I have migraines every day.  Celiac tests have been inconclusive because I'm not ingesting gluten.  I'm also dairy intolerant and recently discovered nuts are a problem.  So, why the migraines every day even though no gluten?  I get botox in the scalp every 3 months but eventually that won't work as the pain finds new avenues.  Headaches are different every day so different cause.  What's the solution? 

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    1 hour ago, Kathy M said:

    I have been gluten free since being diagnosed with celiac about 20 years ago (I'm 66 years old). I have headaches about 5 nights a week. They wake me up after sleeping about 4 or 5 hours. I've been to a neurologist and have been told that the headaches are caused from the arthritis in my neck. These headaches usually start at my neck and generate to the whole left side of my head to my temple and above the left eye. I exercise daily and am in good physical shape. I have osteoporosis from going misdiagnosed for so many years. When finally diagnosed, my villi was flat, so my body had not been absorbing the nutrients it needed for years. Everything passed right through me😒 How do I make these headaches stop?

    17 minutes ago, Guest Carole said:

    I have migraines every day.  Celiac tests have been inconclusive because I'm not ingesting gluten.  I'm also dairy intolerant and recently discovered nuts are a problem.  So, why the migraines every day even though no gluten?  I get botox in the scalp every 3 months but eventually that won't work as the pain finds new avenues.  Headaches are different every day so different cause.  What's the solution? 

    Consider posting your question in the forum section.  You might get a better response.  😊

    Edited by cyclinglady

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    Guest Cali

    Posted

    I also have celiac, I have gotten migraines every month and headaches about 5x a week. I’ve been gluten free for almost 8 years and The only thing that helped me is taking magnesium and b2. It was recommended by my chiropractor who was treating me for my headaches. I hope this helps others! 

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    HI, i don't get the headache .But the problem i have is weight gain. I watch what i eat . An very active person . Is their anything i can do to lose some of this weight . I have gained about 35 pounds .Also the bloating that goes with it . Sometime i look like i am about 9 months pregeant . Please i hope you can give me some kind of idea what to do. Thanks

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    10 hours ago, L.Faye said:

    HI, i don't get the headache .But the problem i have is weight gain. I watch what i eat . An very active person . Is their anything i can do to lose some of this weight . I have gained about 35 pounds .Also the bloating that goes with it . Sometime i look like i am about 9 months pregeant . Please i hope you can give me some kind of idea what to do. Thanks

    Have you been tested for celiac disease?  

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    2 hours ago, cyclinglady said:

     

     

    13 hours ago, L.Faye said:

    HI, i don't get the headache .But the problem i have is weight gain. I watch what i eat . An very active person . Is their anything i can do to lose some of this weight . I have gained about 35 pounds .Also the bloating that goes with it . Sometime i look like i am about 9 months pregnant . Please i hope you can give me some kind of idea what to do. Thanks

    Hi L.Faye:

    I found out the hard way that I am intolerant to rice; if you're eating rice or anything with rice in it, cut it out of your diet and see if that makes a difference.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, and science. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com.

    Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book Dangerous Grains by James Braly, MD and Ron Hoggan, MA.

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