Every year, millions of Americans suffer from migraines. These excruciating headaches can have a serious impact on a person’s life, decreasing their enjoyment of everyday activities and causing significant stress. A recent study from researchers at the University of Padova in Italy found a surprising remedy to migraines: weight loss.
This study found that obese migraine patients who lost weight reduced the frequency, severity, and persistence of their migraines. Patients lost weight through both bariatric surgery and lifestyle changes, both of which helped relieve their migraines.
The Link Between Obesity and Migraines
According to the American Migraine Foundation, scientists have long established a relationship between obesity and migraines. Obese individuals have a higher chance of developing migraines; as much as 50%. The more weight someone gains, the higher their chances of developing migraines – in fact, patients with Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) over 40 have a 275% chance of developing migraines.
Scientists do not have a clear picture of why migraines increase so frequently and so severely with obesity. As of now, scientists believe that the hypothalamus might be to blame. This region of the brain controls both hunger and neurotransmitters that lead to migraines. In addition, researchers believe that obese people are more sensitive to stimulation, leading to the higher development of migraines.
Another prevailing theory involves fat itself. Fat is a highly active substance, secreting many molecules that the body sends to different systems. As a result, obese people tend to produce more inflammatory proteins. These proteins can keep an obese body in a constant state of inflammation, contributing to migraine hypersensitivity and higher migraine frequency.
How Can Weight Loss Relieve Migraines?
The University of Padova study sought to understand how weight loss can aid with migraines. They examined 10 separate studies that involved 473 participants who suffered from obesity. Over the course of the study, the participants lost weight through exercise habits, dietary changes, and/or bariatric surgery.
The study found that in all 10 studies, participants who lost weight reported a decrease in their migraines. Weight loss led to less frequent, less persistent, and less severe migraines. Positive reductions in migraines occurred in all participants who lost weight – the method the participant used to lose weight did not factor into the overall effects. In addition, any amount of weight lost contributed to a reduction in migraines. Patients did not have to lose a minimum amount of weight to see the effects.
What if You Can’t Lose Weight?
Through the University of Padova study, weight loss can be a great solution for obese patients who suffer from severe migraines. However, not everyone can lose weight through the adoption of healthy lifestyle choices or medically supervised weight loss. In these situations, bariatric surgery may aid in long-term and sustainable weight loss. As shown in the study, weight loss through bariatric surgery can aid in migraine reduction in the same way as diet and exercise changes.
If you have a BMI of 30 or more and have not had success with medically supervised weight loss programs, bariatric surgery may be the answer for you. Set up a consultation with Dr. Malladi at Malladi Bariatrics and Advanced Surgery today to learn if weight loss surgery is the right option for you.