ROCHESTER, Minn. – If you’re one of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines, new research may explain why some people are more sensitive to a certain type of trigger than others.
A study out of the San Diego School of Medicine found an association between migraines and microbes found in patient’s mouths. Those microbes break down nitrates, which can be found in foods like processed meats, chocolate, and wine. We spoke with a doctor in the headache division of Mayo Clinic’s Neurology Department who explains that the nitrates themselves don’t usually cause headaches. However the breakdown products nitrites and nitric oxide, can cause a headache.
“We’ve long known that nitrates cause headaches in some migraine patients, there are other triggers as well. This study found a biochemical mechanism that would help to explain why some patients are sensitive to nitrates,” explains J.D. Bartleson, M.D.
He says migraine patients should look out for headache triggers.
“Nitrates can be one such trigger, there are many potential triggers of migraines. The problem is that most migraine headaches are not triggered, or the trigger is something that’s unavoidable ; a change in the weather, a woman’s menstrual period, so it’s only a small number of headaches, in just the right patients that can be prevented by avoiding the wrong trigger.”