Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Could Your Migraines Signal Uncontrolled Asthma?

Asthma and migraines tend to run in families, but are the two conditions linked? Yes, say some asthma specialists.

Migraine or Sinus Headache? continued...

But an accurate diagnosis is important because the two types of headaches need differing treatments. Although a sinus headache might require decongestants or antibiotics to treat the underlying sinusitis, migraines require drugs to prevent or stop the headaches.  

Asthma patients who get headaches only on occasion may not need special attention, but those with frequent, disruptive headaches should seek expert help, Cady says.

“There’s a whole spectrum of migraine activity,” he says. “You can have people who have migraine twice a year and for them, it’s a nuisance -- probably not even a medical problem. On the other hand, you could have people that are having migraine two or three times a week and for them, it’s the center point of their life.”

Such people may benefit from seeing a neurologist or headache specialist, Cady says. “It’s really comprehensive management that they need.”

Asthma and Migraine: A Word of Caution on Medications

Patients with both asthma and migraine should be aware that drugs for one condition may  worsen the other disease. For example, beta agonists to treat asthma symptoms can excite the nervous system and prompt migraine, Cady says. Conversely, beta blockers to prevent migraine can worsen asthma.

“It’s important that each doctor knows that you suffer with those conditions so that they’re sure that they try to balance the medications appropriately,” Ledford says. If medication for one disease worsens the other, “ask if there are alternatives, because many times, there are alternatives,” he says.

What else do asthma and migraine have in common? “There are common principles in the management of both,” Cady says. For example, doing some “detective work” to see what triggers an asthma or migraine attack can help the patient to avoid these things.

Lifestyle management helps, too, Cady says. “Good diet, good health, trying to do exercise, good sleep -- there are cornerstones of management for both of these. The healthier you maintain your lifestyle, the better both of these diseases are going to do.”

1 | 2
Reviewed on June 22, 2009

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Distressed woman
Slideshow
Woman holding an asthma inhaler
Article
 
Get Personalized Asthma Advice
Health Check
asthma overview
Slideshow
 
Los Angeles skyline in smog
Slideshow
man in a field with allergies
Slideshow
 
Black Window
Slideshow
Slideshow Allergy Myths and Facts
Slideshow
 
Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections