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.
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Some things definitely to consider for those who suffer chronically from headaches. Very informative!
So many food items can cause headaches in individuals. And some times, it’s not the food item itself, but the preservative used during food preparations. Gluten is definitely something to consider if one has an ongoing problem with headaches. Thank you for coming by 🙂
I had no idea about that mate. Drs in the Uk are very concrete in their thinking!
Baldy, this seems to be an ever-growing topic across the nation. More and more, public awareness is increasing. The more people know about Celiac and gluten related problems, the more doctors will pay attention to it. Hopefully, one day, we will have awareness universally 🙂
This is why it really freaks me out when I get a headache…they can mean so many bad things 🙁
But JR Nova, it is better to find the culprit and take care of it, then to continue to suffer. There are numerous things that can cause headaches, and sometimes people never find out the cause of their problem. You would be surprised how many people never consider gluten as the root problem of their suffering.
Oh this is excellent information Mary, I have a friend whose daughter suffers incredibly from headaches. I am going to share your post with her if that is cool with you. Thank you so much…
I suffered from headaches for years, I always thought it was the alcohol consumption, no it was my blood-pressure…I am now headache free for the most part…
Jan, I hope that your friend can get answers to her daughter’s concerns. There is nothing worse than watching your child suffer in pain. I’m glad to hear that you found what was causing your headaches and was able to get them under control!
I have had migraines, off and on through my life. They usually put me in a dark room and out of commission. Perhaps it is my diet something to look into, Thanks for your post!
People say ‘you are what you eat’, and I don’t think that it is meant literally, but it does raise an eyebrow when one looks at the preservatives in their food and considers the effects it has on us. I was very surprised to see how much better I felt over-all when I began eating natural foods without preservatives and free of gluten and food allergens 🙂
Tawnee, one of my daughter’s major complaints was headaches. She has one now, every once in awhile, but it’s not anywhere near as bad as it was before she was tested for Celiac. The diet has made a difference in many areas of her life.
How very true Savira…but I prefer to find the reason for what causes me to have pain or discomfort. You always put me on the path of ‘wonder’ which is a motivation for me, personally.
Before knowing you and reading your blog I would have never known about Celiac and I certainly would never have given second thought to headaches…education is a good thing and ou are educating the world….As always…XOXOXOXOXO
Thank you BB. I believe that everyone can benefit from every piece of information shared or brought to the forefront. This is the best way I know of sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
both my good friend and I got rid of headaches and allergies to pollen, dust, etc when eliminating wheat from our diets! Have I heard it from any doctors? Nope! What a shame, conventional medicine doesn’t advocate for that enough!