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Are Migraines a Symptom of ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that we still don’t fully understand, and the effects of it can vary from person to person. For instance, many people with this disorder may have a greater risk of experiencing migraines. But what exactly is the relationship between ADHD and migraines, and how can you manage both at once? In this guide, we’ll provide helpful information about the causes, symptoms and treatment of both ADHD and migraines. Let’s dive in.

Understanding ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect both children and adults. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown, but it’s thought to be a combination of factors that may include genetics, environmental factors and brain anatomy. It’s important to note that ADHD is not simply laziness and that it is a legitimate medical condition that can impact various aspects of daily life.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is typically characterized by symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, trouble focusing, trouble staying organized, trouble with time management and more. It is a complex condition, and the symptoms can vary from individual to individual. On that note, strategies for ADHD and treatments may work for some people but don’t work for others. That’s why those with this condition need to speak with a medical professional to get a treatment plan uniquely tailored to their needs and their symptoms.

What Are Migraines?

Migraines are a type of headache that is typically accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and sound. It can feel like intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head, but it can also occur on both sides for some individuals. Migraines also tend to last longer than regular headaches, sometimes going on for anywhere from a few hours to several days. Some people may experience milder migraines, but they are often debilitating and can make it difficult to engage in your daily activities until the pain subsides.

The exact cause of migraines is not fully understood, but it may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The triggers for migraines can also vary by individual, with some common triggers being changes in the weather, sleep issues, stress, mood swings, strong odors, loud noises, overexerting, anxiety, depression, medications, bright lights and more. 

Treatment for migraines is different from regular headaches, so it’s important to diagnose them if you have frequent or severe headaches that match these symptoms.

Are They Different From Headaches?

While migraines are headaches, they are not the same as your typical tension headache or sinus headache. While a regular headache may cause some pain and discomfort, migraines are much more intense and can last for hours or even days. The aforementioned symptoms of migraines, like nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, also aren’t typical of regular headaches). Migraines also tend to cause throbbing pain on one side of the head.

Exploring the Link Between Migraines & ADHD Symptoms

Now that we understand a little bit more about ADHD and migraines — is there a link between them, too? You may be surprised to learn that many individuals with ADHD also experience migraines, and there may be a possible correlation between the two conditions.

With that being said, the exact relationship between migraines and ADHD is still being explored. As mentioned, there is still a lot to understand about both conditions and since we don’t quite understand the causes of either, it stands to reason that there isn’t necessarily a clear answer as to why the two may be linked. There are, however, some theories. One theory is that both conditions may sometimes be brought on by underlying factors like brain anatomy and chemicals. Another theory suggests that they may just interact with each other and exacerbate each other’s symptoms.

Of course, further research is needed to fully understand the connection between the two, but recognizing this potential link can help medical professionals create treatment plans that address the symptoms of both, giving patients a better quality of life.

What Does the Research Say?

Research into the relationship between ADHD and migraines is still ongoing, but there have been some interesting findings. The studies that have been conducted indicate that someone with ADHD may have an increased risk of migraines compared to those without ADHD. It also seems that people who have both ADHD and migraines tend to have more severe ADHD symptoms than those who just have ADHD.

As mentioned, it’s possible that the shared underlying factors that may cause both ADHD and migraines could be the reason for these potential links between the conditions. However, there needs to be further research to fully understand this connection and confirm any theories.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Whether you feel like you’re suffering from ADHD, suffering from migraines or suffering from both, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional. This is the first step to managing these conditions and getting treatment options to help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. 

Treatment for ADHD may include a combination of the following:

  • Lifestyle changes — Treatment may involve lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet, relaxation techniques and other strategies that may help individuals mitigate symptoms.
  • Therapy — Therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, may be recommended to help with symptoms. A mental health professional can help provide coping strategies for ADHD symptoms and also give individuals with this disorder an outlet and a support system to talk about their experiences.
  • Medication — If your health care provider deems it medically appropriate, they may recommend ADHD prescription medication to reduce symptoms.

Treatment for migraines may include:

  • Medication — Your health care provider may recommend medication, typically over-the-counter, to help reduce pain from migraine episodes. There are also some prescription pain relievers that your doctor may recommend that are meant to be taken when migraine symptoms begin to come on.
  • Preventative medication — If your health care provider deems it necessary, they may recommend preventive medication that will help to reduce the severity or frequency of migraine episodes. 
  • Lifestyle modifications — Making sure to avoid known triggers for migraines can help reduce the frequency and intensity. Make sure to note any triggers you notice and talk to your health care provider about them.

While this may seem a bit overwhelming, your health care provider will be able to tailor a treatment plan to your specific lifestyle and medical needs. Furthermore, they can provide ongoing treatment and monitor your progress, making adjustments to your treatment plan as necessary. Finding the right treatment for you may sometimes take time, but it is possible to find relief from ADHD and migraine symptoms and improve your quality of life.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Evaluation

If you or someone you know is dealing with ADHD and migraines, it’s essential to seek out a comprehensive evaluation. This means you should seek medical help from health care providers who are knowledgeable and who can guide you in the right direction for both conditions.

A comprehensive evaluation from a medical provider will help to identify the specific symptoms you’re experiencing, identify potential triggers, assess your medical history and determine the underlying causes of your symptoms. An evaluation cannot only determine if you should be diagnosed with ADHD or migraines, but it can also rule out any other conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms.

Your evaluation will essentially serve as a foundation for developing individualized treatment that addresses all of the challenges you’re experiencing. Remember, these conditions can vary from person to person, so an evaluation is crucial to find the best way to manage.

Connect with a doctor or online provider

If you’re interested in getting an evaluation for ADHD or migraines, the first step will be to speak with a primary care provider. Circle Medical is here to help. Circle Medical is a full-stack primary care clinic that offers both online and in-person care, allowing you to get health services your way. The convenience of online care means you can get ADHD and migraine treatment from the comfort of your home. Of course, if you prefer to see your provider in person, we can accommodate you at one of our physical locations. Circle Medical is the best way to customize your healthcare experience.

Book an appointment with a Circle Medical telehealth provider today!

If you’re ready to get started on your healthcare journey, then Circle Medical is ready to assist you. If you’re interested in our telehealth services, you can easily make a same-day appointment and speak to a health care professional today. This way, you can get started on your journey to a healthier and happier you as soon as possible. Book your appointment today

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