Are migraines genetic?

Are Migraines Genetic-Sriramakrishnahospital

Migraines are said to be a neurological condition affecting 10% of the world’s population, and the numbers only seem to rise. These migraines are quite common among the age group of 20 to 50 years old. Migraines affect only either side of the brain, but in rare cases, both sides are affected. While there is no exact reason why a migraine can occur, it is said that several factors collectively tend to be associated with the occurrence of migraines. 

The symptoms that are associated with migraine:

  • Extremely severe pain in either side of the brain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain that throbs
  • Vision loss

These symptoms can usually be managed by trying various home remedies for migraine headaches, like sitting in a dark and quiet place, and staying hydrated can help.

Are migraines genetic?

Human DNA is built of genes that contain 23 pairs of chromosomes. The mother inherits one set, and the father inherits the other. A gene is a part of DNA that holds information about various proteins in the human body. 

Genes can sometimes change, and these changes can cause or make a person more likely to get a certain health problem. Changes to these genes could be passed down from parents to children.

Migraines have been linked to changes or variations in genes. More than half of people who have migraines have at least one other family member who also has the condition. Certain people who have migraines due to genetic issues can seek genetic migraine treatment to reduce the recurrence.

The researcher’s perspective of migraine and its link with genetics:

You may have heard in the news about how some gene mutations have been linked to migraines. Here are some examples:


This gene makes a protein called TRESK. This protein is linked to pain pathways and is found in nerve areas important for migraines. A certain change in the gene KCNK18 has been linked to migraines with aura.


This gene codes for an enzyme that has many jobs in the body, including one that has to do with how often you sleep and wake up. A 2013 study found that certain mutations in CKIdelta were linked to migraines.

The variations of the gene associated with migraine:

It’s important to note that most migraines are thought to have more than one cause. This means that the condition is caused by more than one gene. Small genetic changes called single-nucleotide polymorphisms to seem to be to blame (SNPs).

Genetic studies have found more than 40 places in the genome where changes are linked to common types of migraine. These places are often linked to how cells and nerves talk to each other or how blood vessels work.

By themselves, these changes may not make much of a difference. But when many of them happen at once, it can worsen migraines.

Migraine symptoms also seem to be affected by several genetic factors. If you have a strong family history of migraines, you may be more likely to:

  • Migraine with aura
  • Frequent migraine attacks
  • Migraine onset at an early age

Do certain types of migraines have a stronger genetic link?

There is a well-known hereditary link with several kinds of migraine. Hemiplegic migraine in families is an illustration of this (FHM). FHM has been widely researched about migraine genetics because of this established link.

An earlier age of onset than other migraine kinds is usual for FHM, a type of migraine with aura. People with FHM also experience numbness or weakness on one side of the body in addition to other typical aura symptoms.

Various types of migraines without headaches are also associated with gene factors as they tend to get inherited by the family for generations.

Three distinct genes have been linked to FHM. As follows:

  • ATP1A2
  • SCN1A

A change in one of these genes can change how nerve cells talk to each other, which can cause a migraine.

FHM is passed down in a way called “autosomal dominant.” This means that you only need one copy of the mutated gene to have the condition.

Can DNA tests help with migraines?

At the moment, treating migraines can be frustrating for the person who has them and their migraine doctor.

The Migraine Research Foundation says that 39 million adults and children have migraines. That’s 1 in 10 people. Most people with migraines don’t have quick access to care from a professional who knows how to treat them. Most people with migraines see and are treated by their primary care physician (PCP), who knows a lot about many health problems but often doesn’t know much about diagnosing and treating them. But people with migraine must receive the treatment as per migraine treatment guidelines.

Can migraines be inherited from grandparents?

You get a lot from your grandparents, and there is a lot of evidence that migraines run in families. Scientists say you have a 50–75% chance of migraines if one or both of your parents have them.

So, it makes sense that your parents had the same chance as your grandparents of getting it. But that may not be true.

Scientists don’t fully understand how migraines are caused by genes yet, but it’s possible that the disease could skip a generation. This means your parents might not have migraines even if one of your grandparents did.

Is knowing the genetic link to migraine important?

It might not seem good if migraines run in your family, but that might not be the case. Why? Because we won’t have to guess as much. The medical history of a family member can tell migraine doctors important things, such as:

  • When the migraines started (age).
  • Whether they grew out of migraines or the pain got worse over time
  • Patterns, symptoms, and causes of migraine headaches.
  • Treatments and drugs that helped them deal with their symptoms

Also, people who have been through the same thing are more likely to help and understand you.

The environmental factors that can lead to migraine:

People who are sensitive to the environment can get migraines because of things like:

  • A change in how humid or cold it is
  • if the height or barometric pressure changes
  • Places that are either very dry or very wet
  • Crowded rooms, planes, or other modes of transport
  • Changes in routine
  • Bright, glaring, or flickering lights
  • Extreme heat or cold
  • Loud noises
  • Intense smells (really)
  • Allergies

Because the weather changes the chemical balance in your body, it can cause migraines or make an attack worse caused by something else. A sinus headache could be mistaken for a migraine caused by the weather.

Migraine attacks can be caused by environmental changes, like changing jobs or schools, changing your diet, or anything else that requires you to adjust and adapt. Researchers have found some possible causes of migraine headaches, but they still don’t know a lot.

It’s hard to say what causes migraines. What causes a migraine in one person may not cause one in another. So, if you know and understand what sets off an attack, you can better control it and limit your exposure to triggers.

Important takeaway:

Based on the research that has been done, it seems that a complicated mix of environmental and genetic factors causes this condition.

Some types of migraine, such as familial hemiplegic migraine, are linked to changes in specific genes. But most types of migraine are probably polygenic, which means changes in more than one gene cause them.

Having migraines run in your family can be helpful because you can learn from other family members with the same condition. You might even respond to the same kinds of care.

If you have migraines that make it hard to get through the day, you should talk to your doctor to know the best treatment for migraine

Are migraines genetic-Sriramakrishnahospital

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