Asthma and migraine connection: A new study explains

Inflammation is the underlying key

The study offers promise for uncovering risk factors for people suffering from chronic migraines.

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Asthma May Double Chronic Migraine Risk

Is there an asthma and migraine connection?

A new study published this month in the journal Headache, finds that a link might exist.

The study looked at discovering whether people with asthma who experienced episodic migraines were more likely to experience chronic migraines as well. Both asthma and migraines are considered episodic disorders, meaning they occur occasionally, sometimes without predicament.

But first, let’s look at what migraines are:

The progression of episodic migraines to chronic migraines can occur in several different ways, one of which involves sensitization of the neurons. When the neurons are sensitized, they are more responsive to stimuli and may spasm, leading to migraine symptoms. Migraine pain can worsen with coughing, which is a common symptom of asthma. The authors suggest another connection as well, since both asthma and migraines involve inflammatory mechanisms.

What the study found:

In the study, 4,446 people with episodic migraines in an observational cohort group—that is, a set of people followed over a period of time— were evaluated; 17% of the group also had asthma. In the subgroup of people with asthma, there was a 2x risk that an episodic migraine would progress to a chronic migraine compared to the group without asthma. The study noted that the likelihood of progressing to chronic migraines increased as the number of asthma symptoms increased.

In other words, the high asthma severity subgroup had a statistically greater chance that an episodic migraine would progress to a chronic migraine compared to the subgroup of those without asthma.

Dr. Lipton, lead author in the study, stated, “If increasingly severe asthma symptoms increase the risk of progression to chronic migraine, then it is more likely that respiratory symptoms play a causal role.” This study also addressed the possibility that inflammation is the underlying component of both asthma and chronic migraines, suggesting that “treating asthma with drugs that reduce inflammation may have a protective effect against migraine progression.”


What does this mean?

The study offers promise for uncovering risk factors for people suffering from chronic migraines. Could inflammation be the missing link? Further studies are needed to say for sure, but given what is known about other causes for migraines, inflammation may be the triggering culprit. This study further confirms that finding, and treating the cause of the underlying inflammation may be the key to migraine prevention.


Give us a call today (425) 686-4498 to learn how we can help treat your chronic migraines.

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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in Bothell, WA at her practice Starting Point Acupuncture. She is a pain specialist, seeing people who suffer from chronic pain, migraines, as well as digestive issues. Offering pain relief injections, acupuncture, facial rejuvenation, and nutrition consults. Most insurances accepted. Dr. Ellie Heintze is also the author of the book, A Starting Point Guide to Going Gluten-Free on Amazon.


Martin, V. T., Fanning, K. M., Serrano, D., Buse, D. C., Reed, M. L. and Lipton, R. B. (2015), Asthma is a risk factor for new onset chronic migraine: Results from the American migraine prevalence and prevention study. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. doi: 10.1111/head.12731

Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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