Everyone experiences headaches in their lifetime. But what happens when your headaches are more than just that? What happens when your headache begins to disrupt your daily life? Or worse yet, what happens when that headache turns into a migraine? Could your headaches or migraines be telling you something?
How many of you can say that when visiting your doctor for a complaint of recurring headaches, your doctor suggested and ordered a test for Celiac, or gluten sensitivity? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “probably not many”. Even with all of the research that has been, and is being done surrounding this auto-immune disease, we are still a long way from understanding its nature and how it is so individualized in its symptoms. Some people are asymptomatic; others have every symptom listed in the book, and others fall somewhere in between. No two people have identical symptoms. Either way, doctors are just now beginning to question patient’s chief complaints and the possibility of being related to gluten ingestion.
Although headaches are listed on almost every web site that share Celiac Symptoms, it doesn’t seem to send up a red flag when a patient presents with that particular complaint, even when it doesn’t seem to be brought under control with prescriptions. My daughter is a prime example. Michaela complained about headaches on a daily basis. Her doctors prescribed medicines to no avail, she went to sleep with ice packs on her neck, and had weekly visits to her chiropractor. Nothing seemed to relieve her of these awful headaches that most often, turned into migraines lasting for days. Of course, it wasn’t her headaches that spurred her diagnosis of Celiac, but once she went on a gluten-free diet, her headaches were reduced to minimal occurrences; maybe once or twice a month and the intensity and duration also decreased.
What does the elimination of gluten have to do with it? Everything, if you are gluten sensitive or have Celiac. Without getting into the technical component of the disease, ingesting gluten sets off an array of bodily reactions in the person with gluten sensitivity and Celiac, which includes headaches. In basic terms, a reaction to something your body sees as an intruder.
Studies have shown that there is a link between positive tTGA (Serum tissue transglutaminase IgA antibodies) which is present with Celiac and headaches or migraines. Another study done and published in the March 2003 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology concludes that there is compelling research evidence that supports the link between Celiac Disease and migraines. Their research shows that people who suffered migraines were 10 times more prone to have Celiac than the healthy subjects. When the study continued on to see if these migraine sufferers would benefit from a gluten-free diet, they saw positive results. Although, this may not be a ‘cure’, it was certainly evident that a gluten free diet either eliminated headaches/migraines altogether, or lessened the frequency, duration, and intensity.
With the current research results published, there is reason to conclude that there will be merit in ordering blood tests to rule out Celiac Disease in patients that present with complaints of migraines. This would allow the medical practitioner to introduce a gluten free diet and follow the patient’s progress.
Celiac Disease is a serious condition that merits a strict diet. Although not every Celiac that deviates from their diet experiences symptoms, others have suffered symptoms as devastating as Anaphylaxis Shock. I am by no means suggesting that if you experience headaches/migraines, that you take it upon yourself to go on a gluten free diet. What I am suggesting is that if you are currently suffering with bad headaches/migraines, and have been seen by a healthcare professional with unsuccessful results, that you may want to consider suggesting a test for Celiac. I certainly would have never considered my daughter’s headaches/migraines to be a symptom of Celiac, although that was one of her first symptoms and one of the most prominent ones.