Migraines and MTHFR

Migraines are a neurological condition affecting over 20 million people. Migraines tend to run in families, indicating that there is a genetic basis for them. Recent studies have demonstrated that some kinds of migraines are related to MTHFR.

What are migraines?
Migraines are a type of headache. Migraines are more severe than more headaches and do not respond to typical pain relief medications. Most migraines include symptoms other than pain. Common migraine symptoms include nausea, sensitivity to light or sounds, throbbing pain and blurred vision. Most migraine sufferers have specific triggers which bring on a migraine. Common triggers include stress, alcohol, and chocolate.

There are generally considered to be two types of migraines: common migraines and migraines with auras. An aura is a specific symptom that occurs 20-30 minutes before the migraine. Most auras are visual changes, but an aura may be a ringing in the ears, a temporary hearing loss, light headness or many other things.

What is the connection between migraines and MTHFR?
There is no connection between common migraines and MTHFR, however there is a clear connection between migraines with auras and MTHFR 677. Migraines with aura are also a known risk factor for stroke (that is, people who get migraines with auras are more likely to have a stroke than people who do not have migraines with auras). Migraines with auras are also associated with strokes, which are also connected to MTHFR 677.

Researchers don’t know why MTHFR 677 and migraines are connected. Normally it is impossible to say which of two related medical conditions is cause and which is effect, or if a third condition is causing both. However, MTHFR 677 is a genetic condition which can’t be caused by anything. So when an MTHFR anomaly is connected to another health condition, it is safe to assume that the anomaly is the cause of that condition.

I get migraines with auras, should I get tested for MTHFR?

If you get migraines with auras and one or more other medical conditions related to MTHFR, if may be a good idea to get tested for MTHFR. If you don’t have any other medical conditions related to MTHFR, you might talk to your doctor about getting tested for homocystaemia. Getting tested for homocystaemia can give you information on another risk factor for stroke you should probably be aware of.

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