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HomeHealthThe ADHD-Migraine Connection

The ADHD-Migraine Connection

You or someone you care about may have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADD. You may not be aware that people with ADHD also have a higher risk of migraines.

Scientists have not yet determined the exact relationship between ADHD, migraines, and genetics. However, several plausible possibilities exist, from hormonal imbalances to genetics or sleep disorders.

This article explores the relationship between ADHD and migraines and offers strategies to minimize their impact on you.

Anxiety, stress, migraines, and ADHD: The link between them

You may be familiar with the constellations of comorbidities, such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, often associated with ADHD. These conditions can also trigger migraines. Migraines are strongly linked to sleep disruption and stress.

Researchers have found a strong connection between sleep apnea, depression, and other conditions. Mood disorders and disturbed sleep can also worsen or precipitate the symptoms of ADHD and migraine. This leads to a vicious circle in which several comorbidities – sleep disorders, mood disorders, ADHD, and migraine – feed off each other and intensify.

Studies suggest, however, that the root cause of these comorbidities could be complex and a combination of environmental and physiological factors. Scientists speculate that these conditions are caused by the brain’s inability to process dopamine.

Stimulant medications used to treat ADHD symptoms may also be linked with migraines. The effects of stimulant medications can be mild headaches in the back or the entire head as the medication wears off.

Simple Migraine Treatment Strategies

There is no cure for migraines, but it is possible to manage their symptoms. It is possible to manage both migraines and ADHD symptoms by managing the condition.

Reduce Stress

As depression and anxiety may worsen migraines or ADHD symptoms, reducing stress is a good first step. You may feel overwhelmed by the clutter in your house. Making small, daily efforts to reduce it will help you decrease stress levels that can trigger migraines and worsen ADHD symptoms.

Sleep disorders can be closely related to migraines and ADHD. Identifying and addressing sleep disorders may help you manage your symptoms. Sleep apnea is estimated to affect 18 million Americans, but many may not be aware of it.

You can tell if you have sleep apnea by noticing several signs. Snoring is one of the most common signs. Other symptoms include extreme fatigue during the day, frequent waking at night, and sore throat. Speak to your doctor or consult with a specialist if you suspect you may have a sleeping disorder.

Discover Triggers, pressure points, and Treatments.

Preventive measures include identifying and avoiding migraine triggers such as stress, medication (or forgetting medication), and other sensory stimuli, like sun glare. If you suffer from a migraine, many treatments can be used. As well as seeking specialist treatment, learning the pressure points for migraine treatment used in acupressure or acupuncture may bring relief. ADHD symptoms can be reduced by avoiding triggers and using pressure points. Acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and Acetaminophen may be necessary for migraine headaches. Consult your doctor before beginning any treatment.

Migraine sufferers want the symptoms to stop. Did you know that ADHD increases your risk of migraine headaches and vice versa?

Headaches in children, teens, and adults often accompany ADHD. In one study, men with ADHD had migraines at a rate twice that of other men. According to another study, the severity of ADHD in children correlates directly with the frequency of migraine headaches.

Why do migraines co-occur with ADHD?

Researchers have developed several theories to explain why migraine headaches are more common in people with ADHD. Researchers have suggested that women tend to suffer migraines more than men. This may be due to hormonal fluctuations. Migraines can also be linked to anxiety and mood disorders. Some researchers believe that headaches can cause distraction and irritation in children, particularly those with short attention spans, or suggest that a different disorder causes both.

Marco Antonio Arruda, MD, Ph.D.Ph.D., is a pediatric neurologist at Sao Paulo University, Brazil. He suggests that genetics may be involved, and stress and other stimuli can affect neurotransmitters, including dopamine.

Dr. Arruda says when treating children with headaches, “clinicians must consider school performance, absenceeeism and mental health, especially symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, to arrive at a correct diagnosis.”

Children with ADHD and migraines are more likely to experience learning and social difficulties than their peers. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve a child’s school performance and well-being.

Headaches versus migraines

Some people experience headaches after taking a new ADHD medicine. Most people will experience mild headaches that will subside as soon as their body gets used to the medication. You must discuss headaches with your doctor if they persist. Medication-related migraines are rare and can be managed by eating a small snack before or after taking the medication.

In contrast, migraines are a neurological condition with symptoms that can interfere with everyday life. Some people with migraines experience attacks more than once a month. Migraines usually affect one side of the brain and are accompanied by one or more symptoms.

  • visual disturbances
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • Extreme sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and smell
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities and face

What you can Do

People who suffer from migraines are often aware of their triggers. These are the events or conditions which cause these headaches. Triggers are different for everyone, and what triggers migraines for one person may not trigger a headache for another. Avoid these triggers whenever possible:

  • Alcohol, excessive exercise, dehydration, and stress are all signs of a change in sleep pattern.
  • Motion sickness can be caused by strong smells, bright lights or fluorescent bulbs, pollution, and changes in air pressure, such as those experienced on an airplane.
  • Weather changes include temperature, barometric pressure or humidity (high and low), and bright sunshine.
  • Overuse of pain medication (both prescription and over-the-counter) or side effects caused by a drug.
  • Certain foods can trigger an attack when they are combined with others. Artificial sweeteners and MSG are common triggers.
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