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Could Bariatric Surgery Cure Migraines?

Bariatric Surgery News & Research | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

17 Jul 2013 2:06 PM

Quinn Dombrowski

Have migraines been a painful reality as long as you can remember? If you have a BMI above 40, chances are high you’ll to say goodbye to nasty, throbbing headaches after bariatric surgery.

study at the University of Iowa has shown that migraines either improved markedly or vanished altogether among morbidly obese patients treated with gastric bypass surgery.

The study followed patients for an average three years after surgery, and over that time more than 70% of patients who had previously been diagnosed with chronic migraines never experienced them again. More than 18% had significantly improved experiences, with migraine attacks dropping five to two per month on average, as well as less painful attacks.

“The incidence and severity of migraines was greatly reduced after bariatric surgery and weight loss, suggesting there are a number of people who are suffering from migraines who otherwise might not but for their excessive weight,” said Dr Isaac Samuel, Associate Professor at the University of Iowa.

Of those who had been medically treated for migraines before they become obese, 75% showed improvement after surgery. Even migraines associated with menstruation in women improved.

Increased Risk of Migraines For Obese People

While Dr Samuel said the nature of the association between migraines and obesity was not yet set in stone, it was clear that surgery offered results for the morbidly obese.

“Although some suggest that obesity is associated with migraine prevalence, others have only found a correlation between the frequency and severity of migraine headache and obesity,” he said.

“The higher number of patients identified in this study cohort that developed migraines after obesity onset could suggest that obesity contributes to an increased risk of having migraines rather than merely exacerbating the symptoms.”

Another preliminary study at the American Academy of Neurology in June found that as people’s body mass index numbers moved from normal towards obese, so did their rates of migraine attacks.

Your Diet Could Ease Your Headaches

While changing your diet doesn’t always cure migraines, some common foods can exacerbate headaches. Things to watch out for include dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and wheat. Food triggers tend to be more common among those with allergies, as headaches can be a symptom of an intolerance you may not be aware of. Talk to our team of experts about your headaches to find out how obesity surgery may help you live your life to the full again.


IMAGE CREDIT: Quinn Dombrowski