Migraines are a complex issue that affects many people. Resulting in a range of symptoms, from mild to severe, they can significantly impact your life. So, why do they happen?

The cause of migraines is not completely understood and there is a broad array of triggers that can differ from person to person. However, one factor that has been identified as a common contributor to the condition is genetics. Although more research is required to know why and how this occurs, it is safe to say that if someone in your family has migraines, there is a higher chance that you do too.

Are migraines hereditary? Unfortunately, yes. Knowing there is a link assists researchers as they work towards understanding more about migraines and may help you learn more about your condition and how to manage it. Read on to find out more.

The Hereditary Connection to Migraines 

Approximately 60% to 80% of migraine sufferers are closely related to one or more people who also get migraines. If one of your parents gets them, you have a 50% chance of doing so, too. If both your parents are migraine sufferers, the chances increase to 75%.

Although the genetic cause is not completely understood, there are some known reasons why there is a link. These may include:

  • Irregularities of certain genes.
  • A cluster of gene mutations.
  • Genes that impact the function of ion channels in the body and subsequent nerve activity.

Can Genes Influence Migraine Symptoms?

Some factors are often identified in people who have a family connection with migraines. These are not limited to people whose genes are involved, but as not everyone has the same underlying factors and presentations, it is notable that these are often present.

People with family members who also get migraines often have attacks that are:

  • Frequent.
  • Associated with an aura.
  • Begin at a younger age.

Their migraines may also require medication more frequently and/or for longer.

Understanding The Hereditary Link to Migraines May Help

Although no one would wish a migraine on a family member, having someone else in your family who also gets them can be useful. One way this may be true for you is that you can work together to identify common triggers, helpful treatment options, and migraine presentation patterns.

Identifying Similar Triggers

Your genetic makeup may make you more sensitive to specific factors, so similarities between family members may arise.

Some of the triggers you may share include:

  • Certain drinks and food, such as alcohol, coffee, some teas, chocolate, artificial sweeteners and additives, citrus fruits, and apples.
  • Being overactive.
  • Sudden or extreme mood changes.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Smoking.
  • Noise.
  • Strong smells.
  • Bright lights.
  • Not eating adequately.
  • Insufficient sleep.
  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Certain medical conditions and medications.

Identifying Treatment Options:

The family link also means you may find similar treatment options help prevent and alleviate symptoms and attacks. This may include methods such as:

  • Massage therapy.
  • Joint mobilisation.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Dry needling.
  • Rest.
  • Removal of certain triggers where possible, such as bright lights, noises, and smells.
  • Rest.
  • Certain medications.
  • Identifying and treating underlying medical conditions.

Identifying Migraine Patterns

The pattern and presentation of your migraines may be similar to your family member’s. This may help you be aware of how your migraine attacks may change throughout different phases of your life. It may also give you an idea of when migraines may start in your life, how long an attack might last, and their frequency and severity. Knowing these factors may help you to take steps towards prevention and treatment, and to be mindful of how possible triggers may affect you.

The Hereditary Link

Although there is a strong link between migraines and genetics, it is not a definitive outcome that a person will get migraines if they have a family member who gets migraine. Two relatives may also have migraines but not share a genetic cause. It is a complex condition, but science is on its way to understanding it better.

In the meantime, there are some ways that having a fellow family member who gets migraines can help. By supporting each other and identifying common triggers, symptoms, and presentations, you may be able to find better ways to reduce your migraine attacks.

If you suffer from migraines, please contact the Whole Body Clinic to make an initial consultation for further advice and treatment.