Results from a preliminary study released this week indicate the possibility of a genetic link between migraine and tension headache and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS affects up to 45 million Americans, causing symptoms that include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. The exact cause is not known, and many sufferers go undiagnosed. Study author Derya Uluduz, MD, of Istanbul University, Turkey, commented, “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 findings are scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in April.
Researchers examined 107 people with episodic migraine, 53 with tension headache, 107 with IBS and 53 healthy subjects. Migraine and tension headache participants were examined for IBS symptoms and participants with IBS were questioned about headaches. Headache/IBS comorbidities were found in 54% of migraine suffers and 28% of tension headache sufferers. 38 of the 107 IBS patients also had migraine, and 24 reported tension headache. Examination of the serotonin transporter gene and the serotonin receptor 2A gene showed that the IBS, migraine, and tension headache groups had at least one gene that differed from the genes of the healthy participants. “Further studies are needed to explore this possible link,” said Uluduz. “Discovering shared genes may lead to more future treatment strategies for these chronic conditions.”
Read more about migraines.
Read more about IBS.
Read more about the study findings here.