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Chronic kidney disease and migraines, linked conditions?

Migraines could be a signalling risk factor associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD) claims a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

With kidney related disease almost doubling in the last decade in India, could this new data prove to be an effective warning sign that could allow preventative treatment to take place?

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Migraines can be debilitating, with many being confined to dark rooms to lessen the symptoms. However, could there be more long term effects?

Migraines and kidney conditions are not typically thought to be related. Migraines and headaches are largely considered to affect only the brain. However, symptoms of migraines, in their most severe form, can affect more than just the brain, with nausea also reported as a common symptom.

Over time these symptoms have been found to lead to chronic hypertension, with this potentially leading to further problems such as issues with the kidneys. The two conditions may be more closely linked than previously thought. There is a strong correlation between those receiving haemodialysis and headaches, with 48 percent of people receiving haemodialysis complaining of migraines. This could suggest that kidney dysfunction can play a role in causing headaches and migraines.

The BMJ further studied this correlation, finding that the incidence of CKD is significantly higher in those who have suffered migraines over a long period of time. This risk of developing CKD was further increased in those with comorbid conditions, as well as in those that did not receive any treatment for the migraines.

Aging was also found to play a role, with a correlation between an increase in age and an increase in the risk of developing CKD. Elevated risk was also found in male test participants.

The study also documents an associated risk factor involving the consistent use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as the commonly used ibuprofen. Consistent use of these medications was found to elevate the risk of CKD.

Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are often a migraine sufferers first response to alleviate symptoms. However, if a person suffers from consistent migraines they may be taking these medications far more often than is recommended in the dosage information.

This excessive use of over the counter drugs is mentioned by Indian Medical Association General Secretary R N Tandon. He also considers that heavy metals found within both traditional and allopathic treatments in India may play a role, saying “various people are affected by kidney diseases due to over the counter drugs and traditional medicines containing heavy metals which harm the kidneys”.  

Heavy metal toxicity from ayurvedic treatments is well documented and could be a potential risk factor if a migraine sufferer consistently seeks out this treatment.

Knowledge of the correlation between migraines and CKD could reduce cases in India. By identifying those at risk of developing the disease, regular check ups of kidney function could be arranged, and preventative treatment administered if needed.

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