Migraines might be triggered by the bacteria in your mouth

Oral bacteria may play a crucial role in the onset of migraine in patients, a new study suggests. A team of researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Diego examined data from the American Gut Project, and sequenced bacteria present in 172 oral samples and 1,996 fecal samples. According to the researchers, migraine patients had significantly higher levels of nitrate-reducing bacteria in their oral samples compared with their healthier peers.

Nitrates are compounds commonly found in green leafy vegetables and heart disease medications, which can be broken down into nitrites by bacteria in the oral cavity. These nitrites, when converted into nitric oxide, are known vasodilators that help widen the blood vessels and improve blood circulation.

“Our results show for the first time a potential link between bacterial nitrate, nitrite, and nitric oxide reducers and migraines, by reporting their higher abundances in the oral cavities of people with migraines than in the oral cavities of those who do not suffer from migraines. Future studies should focus on further characterizing the connection between oral bacterial nitrate, nitrite, and nitric oxide reducers and migraines,” the researchers say.

The findings were published in the journal mSystems.

Fast facts about migraine

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine affects 38 million men, women, and children in the U.S., and about one billion people around the world. Migraine is also currently the third most prevalent disease and the sixth most disabling illness in the world. The condition appears to be more common in people between 25 to 35 years old. One in four American households includes someone who suffers from the painful condition, data show. The condition also appears to be hereditary, with 90 percent of sufferers having a family history of migraine.

The foundation also reports that one patient is brought to the emergency room every 10 seconds due to complaints of severe headache. About 1.2 million emergency room visits are associated with acute migraine attacks. More than four million individuals suffer chronic daily migraine, while more than 90 percent of patients report an inability to work or function normally during migraine attacks.

Migraine attacks usually last between four to 72 hours, which can be accompanied by other disabling symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and numbness as well as extreme sensitivity to touch, sound, light and smell. Data also show that about 25 percent of migraine sufferers experience a visual disturbance known as aura. Other neurological symptoms manifest prior to the actual headache in about 15 percent to 20 percent of attacks.

Migraine is also more prevalent in women, according to the foundation. The disabling illness affects about 28 million women in the U.S. Data also reveal that 85 percent of migraine sufferers in the U.S. are women. Approximately one in four American women will experience migraine in their lifetime. About 50 percent of female migraine sufferers have more than one attack per month, while 25 percent experience four or more severe attacks on a monthly basis. Fluctuations in estrogen levels appear to be the culprit more sever and more frequent migraine attack in women. Female migraine sufferers also have a 62 percent higher risk of stroke.

Migraine’s hefty price tag

The U.S. spends as much as $36 billion per year on migraine-related medical expenses and productivity loss, the foundation reports. According to the group, the medical cost associated with chronic migraine management was more than $5.4 billion in 2015 alone. Health care expenses are also 70 percent higher for a household with a migraine sufferer compared with non-affected families.

Despite the disease’s prevalence, there are only about 500 certified headache specialists in the U.S. in 2016, a measly number compared with 38 million sufferers. The foundation also reveals that only 12 percent of migraine sufferers receive preventive treatment. More than 50 percent of migraine sufferers are never diagnosed, according to the foundation.

To read more articles on how your oral health can affect other body systems, go to Dentistry.news today.

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