It can be frustrating when people don't understand why a person with a migraine has to leave work or school to deal with an attack. “There were times that I would have to skip class or call out of my job,” says Janine Weiburg, who has had migraines for almost 10 years. “It is hard to explain to your professor or boss that it is more than just a headache.” Weiburg also finds that she has difficulty focusing during a migraine, which then affects her performance and projects. 

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People who get the severe headaches have more nitrate-reducing microbes, researchers say

HealthDay News
October 17, 2016

TUESDAY, Oct. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) — People with migraines have higher levels of certain microbes, or germs, in their mouths and digestive systems, new research suggests.

Specifically, the analysis of data from the American Gut Project found that migraine sufferers had significantly higher amounts of nitrate-reducing microbes than those without migraines. The project included over 170 oral samples and almost 2,000 fecal samples, the researchers said.

"There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines— chocolate, wine, and especially foods containing nitrates," said lead author Antonio Gonzalez, of the University of California, San Diego.

"We thought that perhaps there was a connection between someone's microbiome and what they were eating," he explained.

Although the researchers found a link, they didn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Further research is needed to learn more about the association between microbes and migraine, the study authors said. It's possible that the results of such research might lead to new migraine treatments, they added.

The study was published Oct. 18 in the journal mSystems, a journal from the American Society for Microbiology.

Many of the 38 million migraine sufferers in the United States have noted a link between migraine and consuming nitrates. Nitrates are found in foods such as processed meats and green leafy vegetables. They're also in certain medicines, the study authors said in a journal news release.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on migraines.