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Fewer Headaches for Gluten-free Celiac Patients?

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.

Image: CC-- Pierre WilleminPeople 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.

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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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4 Responses:

 
Jacquie
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said this on
01 Jun 2015 2:23:42 PM PDT
I was a "walking headache" for years living on aspirins, they were the tension headaches at the temples. Once I was diagnosed with celiac and followed the GF diet, they all but disappeared.

 
Gillian
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said this on
02 Jun 2015 6:40:35 AM PDT
I had severe debilitating migrains for 50 years starting in my teens. After going gluten free three years ago because of intestinal symptoms,(I have not been diagnosed celiac), I have had only the odd normal headache, my migrains have completely disappeared, how I wish I'd known about GF earlier.

 
C J Russell
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said this on
02 Jun 2015 8:53:38 AM PDT
Like Jacquie, I was in nearly constant pain for over 25 years. No one could figure out what was causing my headaches. I would get migraines that lasted 3 to 5 days straight. I thought the best I could do was manage it. Then my acupuncturist suggested that I stop eating starch. That was a real battle, to tell the truth. Starch was my main food group. After a month without any starch at all I slowly added back in different foods. When wheat went back on the table my headaches came back. That's proof enough for me! Incidentally, the lesser issues of alternating diarrhea & constipation and bloating also disappeared. Now, when I see something I really want to eat, I ask myself if this food is migraine-worthy. So far nothing has been.

 
Attila KB
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said this on
04 Apr 2016 1:02:11 PM PDT
I had a constant headache since I was 8 (when I came to the US). I got used to the pain since it was constant, although I'd get very painful migraines that sometimes lasted one to two weeks. Concentration was very difficult. At age 33, I became glutton free and within two months my headaches went away. My life has changed. I keep a food journal. Now when I get headaches I can trace it back to the restaurant... and never go there again.




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Yes but...

I didn't read that far. Yikes... A hefty dose of perspective in that one. For anyone reading this is the post:

Hi! I'm new to the Celiac world. I have been gluten free for around seven months, but still seem to get glutened on a regular basis. I have been sick since January '16 and think that is when it triggered, but I didn't realize until October what it was. By that time I was pregnant with my little boy who is due in June. I also have an almost 4 year old daughter. I am really torn and wondering if I need to really be tested? I have very strong suspicions that I am a true celiac because my aunt has been diagnosed. Part of me says it doesn't matter, just live gluten free and assume you are, but the other part says I need to get tested so I know if my kids are at risk. So far my daughter is fine. She was grain free until after her first birthday, I plan on doing the same with my son. But I also don't want them to suffer the way I have. What would you do? The reason I don't want to get tested is I don't want to start eating it again and feel terrible while I have little kids, last year was so hard and I just want to get strong again. I also plan to bf for a few years and don't necessarily think it's a good idea to eat gluten while bf right? Thank you!

Welcome too! Sorry to hear you're suffering now. If you can nail the diet you should improve. You should also think about vitamin supplements. There's a good chance that you're suffering from one or more deficiencies as a result of the affects of celiac on your intestine's capacity to draw nutrients from your food. A good multi vitamin is a must, just make sure its gluten free and see if your doctor can refer you to a dietician as Lochella's has.

Oh I had heard his name and read some stuff about him but hadn't come across this video! Thanks!!