"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Headaches are common in lupus. Are they really migraines?

August 4, 2023 – Approximately 1.5 million Americans to live with systemic lupus erythematosusessentially the most common type of lupus, and greater than half of them suffer from regular headaches.

New research results now show that these are sometimes not normal headaches. In many cases they are literally migraines.

Lupus is a Autoimmune disease which may attack any organ within the body – brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, joints and blood cells. It is a chronic disease, meaning that patients could have flare-ups but could also be symptom-free at other times. Inflammation is certainly one of the major causes of lupus.

The central nervous system also plays a crucial role in lupus headaches, says Amir Tolebeyan, MD, chief of the Head and Facial Pain Division at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

In lupus, the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, will be affected by antibodies that bind to nerve cells or blood vessels. Lupus also can cut off blood supply to the nerves. All of those affect the central nervous system and may result in headaches. Inflammation of the brain also can directly cause headaches.

A “lupus headache” can occur in various forms. The research of a new study from India finds that one third of patients worldwide with essentially the most common type of lupus specifically migraine.

Raynaud phenomenonwhich limits blood flow to the fingers and toes and is commonly related to migraines, is a complication of systemic lupus erythematosus in up to 50% of patients and will explain why so many individuals suffer from any such headache.

Lupus patients also can primary headachewhich suggests that the headaches themselves are neither dangerous nor directly related to the disease. This kind of headache may simply be resulting from emotional stress, which in turn might be related to coping with the physical pain of other lupus symptoms.

However, the pain also can have more serious consequences.

“In some lupus patients, headaches can be an indication of a problem with the blood vessels in the brain,” says Ashira Blazer, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine on the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of the Lupus Foundation of America.

One such problem is blood clots within the brain, particularly in patients with a condition called antiphospholipid syndrome. It can develop as a complication of lupus and causes the immune system to attack fat in living cells, increasing the chance of blood clotting. Blazer recommends that patients concentrate to systems akin to vision problems or cognitive changes that would indicate a stroke.

New research from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil also found that patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have a better risk of headaches related to acute vascular diseases, akin to Vasculitis. Some lupus therapies also can cause headaches. “If you have lupus, you may be taking immunosuppressants that Aseptic meningitis – Inflammation of the meninges,” said Blazer.

Read on for more specific and essential details about lupus and lupus headaches and what patients can do to get the suitable diagnosis and relief.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Signs of Lupus could include:

  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Severe fatigue
  • Eye problems akin to dry eyes, eyelid rashes or inflammation
  • Forgetting things or being confused
  • Hair loss
  • Chest pain
  • Reduced kidney function
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to light or sunlight

How is a lupus headache diagnosed and treated?

It is vital to search out the basis explanation for the headache.

If an individual with lupus experiences headaches that suddenly develop into worse or more frequent, they need to seek advice from their doctor.

“We don’t know whether lupus directly causes a patient’s headaches,” Tolebeyan said.

Doctors must first rule out serious illnesses akin to stroke, intracranial pressure, or cancer. “Treatment of headaches depends on the cause.”

If the headaches are related to the disease, akin to a lupus flare-up, the doctor may concentrate on controlling the inflammation, Tolebeyan says.

A lupus headache will be Diagnosis by either a lumbar puncture or an MRI or CT scan. Headaches directly related to lupus inflammation often don't reply to over-the-counter painkillers, so Corticosteroids are sometimes prescribed.

When a patient is diagnosed with migraine, National Institute of Health According to the researcher, treatment options include prescription medications or common painkillers akin to paracetamol or ibuprofen. Over-the-counter migraine medications also work for some patients. Other essential ways to forestall migraines include reducing stress, getting enough sleep and avoiding Foods that can cause headaches.

Lupus patients also can reduce their risk of headaches – and feel higher overall – by controlling aspects that would trigger an outbreak. Some great Self-care strategies attempt:

  • Don’t work an excessive amount of or too hard
  • Avoid the sun
  • Limiting the time spent in halogen or fluorescent lamps
  • Avoiding injuries and infections
  • Regular use of lupus medications
  • Consult your doctor before taking any additional medications.
  • Follow a low-fat, low-calorie weight-reduction plan or take a vitamin D complement in case your doctor recommends it.