Helicobacter pylori infections are commonly linked to symptoms such as nausea and abdominal pain. Now, a group of Iranian researchers from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences and Islamic Azad University, Najafabd Branch, showed that Helicobacter pylori infections can affect one's head as well as stomach. "Helicobacter pylori infections influence the severity and frequency of migraine attacks," said Mohammad Saadatnia (Isfahan University of Medical Science, Iran) today at the 21st Meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon. More than 3,200 neurological experts from around the world are currently discussing the latest developments in all areas of their specialty in the Portuguese capital.

Migraine sufferers analysed

The Iranian research group had analysed 105 migraine sufferers during the course of a year. They had no history of taking proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers or antibiotics within the previous 3 months. The patients were divided into two groups; one suffering from a Helicobacter pylori infection as diagnosed by an Urea Breath Test (UBT+); the other participants' Urea Breath Test was negative (UBT-). Severity of migraine, frequency per month and duration of headache attacks were assessed and compared between the groups.

Without infection: 3 days less headache per month

The results clearly showed that Helicobacter pylori infection is associated with greater severity and frequency of migraine headache - independent of age, gender, marital status, education level, migraine type, and first or second degree family history of migraine. Of the 105 patients studied, 55 (52.4%) were UBT positive and the rest (47.6%) UTB negative. Also, those with a Helicobacter pylori infection had more severe and more frequent headache attacks than UTB negative patients (11.6 days per months versus 8.1 days per month). In a multivariate analysis, a UTB+ finding was predictive to migraine severity and frequency. Helicobacter pylori infection is widespread throughout the world. The prevalence in industrial countries amounts to 30 % of the population.

Helicobacter pylori tests to help better

In view of the study's findings, Dr. Saadatnia suggests testing migraine patients immediately for Helicobacter pylori infection and administering therapy to patients testing positive. The treatment would most likely "ease their pain attacks quickly and effectively," he said.

Source: ENS Abstract P941: Association of Helicobacter pylori infection with severity of migraine headache

ENS 2011