Headaches Tend to Aggregate within Families!!!

Migraine may be classified as migraine without aura, formerly called common migraine, or migraine with aura, formerly known as classic migraine. The differences are based upon the presence or absence of neurologic symptoms prior to the onset of headache. The aura may consist of flashing lights, or zigzag lines, or may manifest as blind spots in the vision. Some people even experience speech difficulty, tingling in the face or hands, confusion, or weakness of an arm or leg. The majority of people suffering from classic migraine have an aura that develops 10-30 minutes prior to development of the actual headache.

A headache or cephalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain. Several areas of the head and neck have these pain-sensitive structures, which are divided in two categories: within the cranium (blood vessels, meninges, and the cranial nerves) and outside the cranium (the periosteum of the skull, muscles, nerves, arteries and veins, subcutaneous tissues, eyes, ears, sinuses and mucous membranes).

There have been many studies that show migraines aggregate within families, but little research has been done to determine whether chronic daily headaches and episodic headaches cluster in families. A recent study tested the hypothesis that frequency of primary headaches aggregate within families. The study included 1,994 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years. The children and parents were interviewed using validated questionnaires. After analyzing the collected information, researchers found that frequency of headache in the mother predicted frequency of headache in the children. They discovered that if the mother had chronic daily headaches that the risk of chronic daily headaches in the children was increased almost 13-fold, but the risk of infrequent headache was not increased. This data appears to suggest that headaches aggregate in families and that frequency of headaches in children is directly influenced by the headache frequency in the mother.1

1 Arruda MA, Guidetti V, Galli F, et al. Frequency of Headaches in Children is Influenced by Headache Status in the Mother. Headache. May2010.