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Headache Treatments May Trigger Gastroesophageal Reflux

Migraineurs often suffer from additional health problems (called comorbid conditions) and these can include gastrointestinal disorders. One recent study found that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is common among migraine patients. It also found that those patients frequently take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications to control their migraines.

Of the migraineurs who filled out an Internet-based general health survey, nearly 50% had been diagnosed with GERD (also called heartburn or acid reflux) or experienced its symptoms but had not yet been diagnosed.

Between 10% and 20% of these respondents took NSAIDS to control their migraines. The patients who experienced GERD symptoms but had not been diagnosed with the disorder reported the highest use of the medications, which include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and nabumetone.

NSAIDS have been found to increase the risk of GERD and to worsen its symptoms. While some sufferers may consider heartburn a minor annoyance, it can lead to serious health problems and worsen others, including sinusitis, asthma and chronic cough.

Researchers recommend that healthcare providers prescribe medications without NSAIDS for patients who experience both migraine and GERD.

The study was reported online in the Journal of Headache and Pain.

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