Migraine and genes: It is (in part) a family affair

Genes play a big role in determining who we are, and this includes the conditions we inherit. Migraine, in part, is inherited from family.
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If a condition is genetic, it means that it is passed down from one generation to the next. It may be surprising, but migraine is actually an example of a condition in which genes play a part. The exact cause of migraine may not actually be known. However, many believe that it is the result of a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. In fact, around 60% of sufferers are thought to have inherited migraine as a result of their family members’ genes. But what is the role of genes in migraine? And is there anything that can be done about it?

The role of genes in migraine

Many inherited conditions are caused by a genetic mutation. This means that the DNA responsible for producing all your cells and tissues has a fault. This, in turn, can lead to health issues. Scientists have linked these genetic changes to migraine, with two particular mutations singled out: KCNK18 and CKIdelta (don’t worry, I don’t know what those letters and numbers mean either!). Recent studies have also linked the TRESK gene to those predisposed to suffer from migraine attacks.

That being said, it is unlikely that most cases of migraine are caused by genetic mutations. Rather, most sufferers are likely to have inherited their condition as a result of lots of different genes all coming together by chance. Add environmental factors into the mix, and you begin to realise just how complex migraine really is.

Can anything be done about the inheritance of migraine?

You cannot change the genes that you inherit from your family. But if you inherit genes that make it more likely for you to suffer from migraine, that does not necessarily mean that you will definitely suffer from migraine attacks.

Even if you do face the headaches and symptoms of attacks, that does not mean that there are no steps you can take to help manage your condition. Preventative measures can be taken, including identifying any potential triggers which you can then avoid as to reduce the likelihood of an attack. Visiting a doctor or specialist can also provide you with invaluable advice to help you and your family lives fulfilling lives.


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