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What is the Relationship between Allergy and Migraines?

How does allergic reaction relate to migraine headaches?

In the past, the continuous strong belief that allergy and migraine were inextricably and inevitably  connected were not based on any formal studies or research but were rather purely based on the project of uneducated speculation. However currently there exists substantial documented evidence of a weak link between allergy and migraine.

During the first half of this century, there were quite a number of reports coming from patients who were allergic to various types of foods. These reported patients experienced some type of allergic skin reactions to a specific type of food however these claims were never substantiated by any formal, case-controlled studies.

Among these reports, there was at least one report of a patient who claimed he developed a migraine when given a food type to which he was allergic to. However, the connection between migraine and allergy was questionable as it was demonstrated later that when that same patient was unaware that he was consuming the alleged allergen, no migraine headache occurred.

Another major issue with this type of research is that patients often will experience a positive skin allergic reaction and then have no type of demonstrable symptoms of allergy and also no migraine. In fact, the more modern serologic studies are not much better either.

However in the year 1985, at least there was a fairly more convincing evidence of a connection between food, allergy and migraine being published. In this particular study, patients who had allergies to various foods such as wheat, corn, egg, and so on, were tested with food challenge, that is being served a meal which contains the suspected allergen. Even though these patients were unaware that they had consumed the allergens, they actually developed a headache within thirty minutes of consuming the offending food item

It was also found that some of these patients were demonstrated to have increased levels of histamine in their blood after ingesting the food.  Histamine is actually an important chemical produced during an allergic reaction.

The correlation between migraine and food allergy is demonstrated in studies that were published more recently. This study actually focused more on children with ages between seven years to eighteen years and who were also suffering from migraine. These children were then separated into two different groups. The first group, which is the control group, was allowed to continue their customary diet while the second group was placed on a hypoallergenic regimen which consists of only eight very simple foods for a period of four weeks.

Those in the control group demonstrated no change in the pattern of their migraine headache, while the diet-restricted children showed improvements. About 50% of the diet-restricted group experienced total elimination of their headaches while majority of the other children reported a significant improvement in the the migraine headaches pattern. It was found that the most common offending food types in this study were banana, cacao (chocolate), hazelnuts and eggs.