Migraines, tension headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome share common genetic links, says study

Migraines, tension headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome share common genetic links, says studyMigraines, tension headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have been found to share a common genetic link. Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects nearly 45 million people in the U.S. The exact cause of IBS is still unknown and many patients can go undiagnosed for years. Symptoms of IBS include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.

Study author Dr. Derya Uluduz said, “Since headache and irritable bowel syndrome are such common conditions, and causes for both are unknown, discovering a possible link that could shed light on shared genetics of the conditions is encouraging.”


The study involved 107 individuals with episodic migraines, 53 tension-type headaches, 107 people with IBS, and 53 healthy individuals as controls. Migraine and tension headache patients were examined for IBS, and IBS patients were asked about headaches.

The researchers found that migraine patients were twice as likely to have IBS, compared to tension headache patients – 54 migraine patients had IBS, compared to 28 tension headache patients. Thirty-eight IBS patients had migraines and 24 had tension headaches.

Researchers observed the serotonin transporter gene and the serotonin receptor 2A gene. They found that in IBS, migraine, and tension headache patients, there was at least one gene that differed from the genes of the control patients.

Dr. Uludiz added, “Further studies are needed to explore this possible link. Discovering shared genes may lead to more future treatment strategies for these chronic conditions.”

Migraines and tension headache home remedies

Migraines and tension headaches can be incredibly painful and can even keep you home from doing the things you love. Here are some home remedies in order to treat migraines and tension headaches and obtain relief so you can go back to enjoying your everyday life.

Try muscle relaxing exercises: Relaxation of the muscle may help alleviate migraines and tension headaches.

Get adequate sleep, but not too much sleep: Stick with a regular sleep schedule as well.

Rest and relax: When a migraine or tension headache strikes, try your best to relax and rest and avoid additional triggers that could make it worse.

Keep a headache diary: Recording when your get a headache can help you uncover your triggers.

Manage your stress levels.


Apply heat or cold compresses: Choose the appropriate temperature pack in order to promote muscle relaxation.

Improve your posture: Practicing good posture can help reduce muscle tension that leads to headaches.

By following these home remedies and working alongside your doctor, you can help live a normal life all the while controlling your migraines and tension headaches.

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.



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