What your headaches may be telling you
Another day... another headache.
Whether it's the pressure in the front or the tightening in the back... throbbing temples, shooting pain, or a pounding skull... no matter how often you get headaches, you never seem to get used to them.
And that's especially true if you experience a severe form of headache known as a migraine.
As bad as the pain and inconvenience already are, the latest science suggests that your headaches may be an early indicator of something else going on in your body: hypothyroidism.
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that helps regulate your metabolism. A sluggish thyroid can cause a number of health problems, including fatigue, weight gain, depression, sexual dysfunction, and hair loss. If untreated, it can even lead to heart problems and chronic joint pain.
According to a new study, people with frequent headaches are 21 percent more likely to develop low thyroid function later.
And for migraine sufferers, the danger is twice that, at a 41 percent increased risk.
While this was a large study of data from over 8,400 patients over the course of 20 years, it only shows that there's a correlation between headaches and low thyroid function -- not why.
We don't even know if one causes the other.
But we do know that migraines are serious business. In addition to this newly-discovered link to hypothyroidism, they've previously been associated with an increased risk of both cardiovascular disease and stroke.
And ladies, you're three times more likely to have migraines than men.
When one of my patients feels like their head is being split open a little too frequently, that tells me two things:
- It's time to start looking at their thyroid function, even if they don't show any other signs of hypothyroidism. Boosting thyroid function (with supplements or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy) is worth a try to ease headache pain.
- We need to find out the root cause of the headaches so we can ease the pain at its source, rather than covering it up with medication.
Mainstream doctors will often prescribe opioid painkillers for patients with persistent migraines -- mostly because they don't know what else to do. However, those drugs can have serious side effects, are highly addictive, and actually can worsen your pain.
There are a number of supplements that will reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Feverfew, magnesium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and curcumin are all good choices.
Finally, research has shown the ancient therapy of acupuncture to be a natural and effective way not only to manage pain but also to stimulate the production of TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone).
I recommend finding a medical acupuncturist by visiting the website of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.
Headache Tied to Hypothyroid Risk
Headache Disorders May Be a Risk Factor for the Development of New Onset Hypothyroidism
Why Women Suffer More Migraines than Men
Hypothyroidism (Underactive thyroid)