Subclinical Hypothyroidism May Increase Migraine Development Risk

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This study sought to further examine the association between migraine and subclinical hypothyroidism.

Subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with an increased risk for migraine, according to a study recently published in Cephalalgia. There appear to be no current biomarkers of thyroid function that are associated with this comorbidity.

This case-control study included 151 subjects with subclinical hypothyroidism with a mean age 48.36±15.86 years, as well as a group of 150 controls with a mean age of 50.86±9.19 years. This study sought to further examine the association between migraine and subclinical hypothyroidism, while also investigating thyroid function biomarkers and comorbidities and their association with migraine.

Interviews were conducted to determine characteristics of migraine. In subjects with hypothyroidism, the study researchers compared both biochemical factors (free triiodothyronine, free thyroxine, anti-thyroid antibodies, and thyroid-stimulating hormone) and clinical factors between those with comorbid migraine and those without.

Participants with subclinical hypothyroidism were significantly more likely than controls to exhibit lifetime migraine (46% vs 13%; <.001), with a higher likelihood of having both migraine with aura (=.01) and without aura (<.001).

No association was found between biomarkers of thyroid function and comorbid migraine in participants with subclinical hypothyroidism. However, subjects with subclinical hypothyroidism and migraine showed a statistically significant comorbidity with autoimmune diseases as opposed to those without migraine (=.005).

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A number of recent studies have linked migraine with a higher risk for subclinical hypothyroidism, in which individuals exhibit slightly elevated concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormones while exhibiting standard levels of free thyroxine and free triiodothyronine.

The study researchers conclude that “patients with subclinical hypothyroidism have an increased risk of developing both migraine with aura and migraine without aura in respect to controls. This comorbidity seems not to be directly related to thyroid hormones or to antithyroid antibody levels.”


Rubino E, Rainero I, Garino F, et al. Subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with migraine: a case-control study [published online April 22, 2018]. Cephalalgia. doi: 10.1177/0333102418769917