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Are Headaches Linked to Thyroid Disorders?

Weight loss
Jan Trobisch

Jan Trobisch

For headache or migraine pain relief, people use over-the-counter pain products or prescription pain killers more often than they do for any other type of pain. Although Tylenol, aspirin and ibuprofen offer temporary relief, they do not address the root cause of headache.

In addition, taking these medications regularly can produce unwanted side effects, especially gastrointestinal issues and fluid retention that leads to swelling of ankles and feet.

So what is it that could be causing regular headaches?

Headaches and Thyroid — Is There a Connection?

Some headaches may be attributed to hypothyroidism if there is no known cause for the headache, since hypothyroidism involves a decrease in hormones affecting metabolism and blood pressure — which can lead to headache development. Alternately, some doctors say that headache disorders may present a risk factor for causing thyroid disorders. This is possible because recurring headaches trigger a continuous immune system response which makes you more vulnerable to a dysfunctioning thyroid gland.

Headaches not usually attributed to hypothyroidism include:

  • Tension headaches: These headaches are generated when you hold your shoulder, jaw and neck muscles tightly in one position for an extended period. Reasons for chronic headaches due to muscle tension include anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, eye and neck strain, not eating properly, drinking alcohol and even caffeine withdrawal. Certain individuals may also suffer tension headaches when they eat foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Sinus headaches: People suffering from allergies or sinusitis often experience sinus headaches. Pain is felt around the nose, cheekbones and directly above the eyes. Sinus headaches can be accompanied by fever, swelling and earache. Sinus headaches may also occur when someone has a sinus infection — but they just may not realize it, instead attributing their headache to a different cause.

Link Between Migraine Headaches and Thyroid Disorders

Researchers are not sure what exactly causes chronic migraines, but they do know the excruciating pain migraine sufferers feel correlates with abnormal blood vessel contractions as well as possible genetic and hormonal conditions affecting brain chemistry. Symptoms of migraine include:

  • Severe, debilitating pain lasting anywhere from several hours to several days
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and noise
  • Pain occurring mostly on one side of the head

Since the etiology of migraines is not yet well-understood, doctors think it is possible that thyroid disorders could promote triggering of a migraine attack.

Grave’s Disease (Hyperthyroidism) and Headache

Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disease causing the production of antibodies that make thyroid grow and produce more thyroid hormone than your body actually needs. The antibodies are known as thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins, or TSIs. They stick to the cell receptors, preventing the actual thyroid-stimulating hormone from being received.

This fools your body into thinking it needs more thyroid hormone, which in turn, makes the thyroid grow so it can produce more hormones to meet this supposed demand increase. Essentially a form of hyperthyroidism, Grave’s disease is the most common form of hyperthyroid disease.

Symptoms of Grave’s disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Recurring headaches/migraines
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Heat sensitivity

Dangers of Using Prescription Pain Relief for Headaches and Migraines

Prescription pain relievers can cause extreme drowsiness and euphoria due to their addictive, opioid-based ingredients. Commonly used narcotic prescription pain relievers include codeine and hydrocodone, Percodan, Darvocet and barbiturates combined with acetaminophen.

These powerful pain relief products not only carry a high risk of addiction, but they are also responsible for many cases of overdoses requiring emergency room care. Long-term use of prescription pain medication is further known to cause liver/kidney failure, cardiovascular failure and respiratory distress.

If you suffer recurring headaches with no apparent cause, you may have a thyroid disorder. For assessment of symptoms and testing, please call Synergy Wellness at 661-878-9100 or read more about our age management program.