Asthma

Are Asthma and Migraine Related?

Asthma has been found to be comorbid with chronic daily headache. (This was chronic migraine without any evidence of medication overuse.) A Norwegian study of over 50,000 people found that headache (both migraine and non-migraine headache) was 1.5 times more likely to occur in asthma sufferers, as well as chronic bronchitis and hay fever. In this study, more women than men had asthma (although more men had chronic bronchitis).

A British study of similar size found that the risk of developing asthma in a migraineur was 1.3 times higher than in a non-migraine sufferer.

Asthma can also serve as a migraine trigger, although asthma does not cause migraine. (Migraine does not cause asthma, either.) The association of asthma and migraine is well established, but the cause of that association is not known.

Just as in migraine, it's important to identify what your asthma triggers are, and avoid them when possible. Obviously, it is not possible to avoid all pollen exposure. However, you can minimize exposure to dust (and dust mites), and to cigarette smoke.

References:

 

  1. Mortimer MJ, Kay J, Gawkrodger DJ, Jaron A, Barker DC. The prevalence of headache and migraine in atopic children: An epidemiological study in general practice. Headache. 1993;35:427-431.
  2. Wilkinson IA, Halliday JA, Henry RL, Hankin RG, Hensley MJ. Headache and asthma. J Paediatr Child Health. 1994;30:253-256.
  3. Davey G, Sedgwick P, Maier W, Visick G, Strachan DP, Anderson HR. Association between migraine and asthma: Matched case-control study. Br J Gen Pract. 2002;52:723-727.
  4. Özge A, Özge C, Oztürk C, et al The relationship between migraine and atopic disorders-the contribution of pulmonary function tests and immunological screening. Cephalalgia. 2006;26:172-179.
  5. Low NC, Merikangas KR. The comorbidity of migraine. CNS Spectr. 2003;8:433-444.
  6. Aamodt AH, Stovner LJ, Langhammer A, Hagen K, Zwart J-A. Is headache related to asthma, hay fever, and chronic bronchitis? The Head-HUNT Study. Headache. 2007;47(2):204-212.
  7. Becker C, Brobert GP, Almqvist PM, et al. The risk of newly diagnosed asthma in migraineurs with or without previous triptan prescriptions. Headache. 2008;48(4):606-610.

by Christina Peterson, M.D.

updated June 20, 2011