Migraine, Tension Headaches, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What's the Connection?

February 22, 2016
Amy Jacob

Migraine and tension headaches potentially share genetic links with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Migraine and tension headaches potentially share genetic links with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Derya Uluduz, MD, Istanbul University, Turkey, commented in a news release, “Since headache and IBS are such common conditions, and causes for both are unknown, discovering a possible link hat could shed light on shared genetics of the conditions is encouraging.”

A preliminary study involved 107 patients with episodic migraines, 53 with tension-type headaches, 107 with IBS, and 53 healthy people. The patients with migraines and tension-headaches were examined for IBS symptoms and those with IBS were questioned about any headaches.

According to the study, those with migraines were twice as likely to suffer from IBS compare with those with tension headaches. Nearly 54% migraine patients also had IBS, compared to 28% of tension headache patients. Additionally, 38 IBS patients also suffered from migraines and 24 with tension headaches.

Assessing the serotonin transporter gene and the serotonin receptor 2A gene, researchers discovered that the IBS, migraine, and tension headache groups had at least one gene that differed from the genes in the healthy patients.

As such, “Further studies are needed to explore this possible link. Discovering shared genes may lead to more future treatment strategies for these chronic conditions,” concluded Uluduz.