Thyroid and Headaches: What’s the Connection?

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Thyroid and Headaches: What’s the Connection?

The thyroid gland is responsible for many different functions of the body that are interconnected to  other major functions. Think of it like a giant spider web.  This includes some mental workings as well. And this is where headaches or migraines can come into the picture.

Research suggests that people who have migraines are 40% more likely to have thyroid issues as compared to others. This proves that if you have some kind of recurrent headache concern, then your chances of having an underlying thyroid disease are higher.  Not sure what thyroid diseases even are?  Here is some detailed information for you.

Understanding the Difference between Severe Headaches, Migraines and Random Headaches

The very first thing you need to understand is that there are way too many types of headaches than can be classified, but broadly they fall under 150 major categories. The most common ones include cluster headaches, sinus headache, migraines, tension headache, and hormone headaches. Keep in mind that they can all be related or can all be due to a single cause. One person can have the same headache for different reasons.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headache is defined as an intense burning pain, or a piercing pain in or around one eye that is either constant or like a throbbing pain that is believed to be one of the least common types of headaches. The pain is said to be so bad that the person experiencing it is unable to sit in one place and wants to move about while having it.

The eye where the pain is happening reddens, the lid droops, and also starts to water. The nostril also becomes runny and/or stuffy. Cluster headaches are said to be more common among men as compared to women.

They are called cluster because they take place in groups. They occur one to three times per day for 15 minutes to 3 hours, where a person may even wake up from deep sleep. The pain can go completely in remission for months or years and then suddenly come back again.

Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches occur because of inflammation of the sinus cavities. This happens when you have runny nose or flu. A true sinus infection mostly only occurs due to sinus infection. The pain is constant and deep. It is in the forehead, in the cheekbone and on the bridge of the nose.


Becoming more and more common these days, migraines are not just any kind of headaches. They are specific in the sense that for most people migraines are limited to one side of the head. The pain is not just intense, but throbbing and is also accompanied by an aura.  Other symptoms include sensitivity to sound and light, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, upset stomach, dizziness, fever, blurry vision and sometimes even fever.

The migraine episode can last from 4 hours to 3 days. Frequency in a month can vary from once a week to 4-5 times a month.

Tension Headache

These are some of the most common types of headaches to take place, tension headaches occur among teens and adults alike. As the name suggest, they occur due to some kind of stress factor. The pain level is mild to moderate and comes and goes over time. There are no other symptoms other than the pain itself.

Hormone Headache

Hormone headaches take place whenever there are changes in hormonal levels. This can be during  monthly cycles like periods, or during pregnancy, or even through menopause. The use of birth control pills or other such medication can also cause such headaches.

Keep in mind that if there is any kind of hormonal fluctuation in the body, or if a woman is experiencing any kind of hormonal imbalance, chances of going through hormonal headaches are high. But what is the connection with thyroid? How are headaches and migraines related to thyroid disorders?

Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid gland is located right beside the Adam’s apple in the throat. It is responsible for the production and secretion of the thyroid hormone.  This is responsible for the proper functioning of the metabolic system, body temperature, along with many other functions of the body. If the thyroid gland becomes overactive (hyperthyroid) or underactive (hypothyroid), then many functions of the body go haywire and the body will not be able perform optimally.

Two of the most common disorders of the thyroid gland are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone and hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces low amounts of thyroid hormone to meet the body’s requirements. The symptoms can typically be helped with diet and lifestyle changes.

The Connection between the Two

Studies show that people who have migraines are 40% more likely to have thyroid conditions than those who did not. And people who had headaches, were 21% more likely to have thyroid disorders. This shows that chances of acquiring thyroid conditions increase if you already suffer from headaches.

Research also shows that people who have migraines aren’t able to convert T4 into T3 very well. This means that they will not be able to metabolize energy well. This is what can lead to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In simple words, risks of Hashimoto’s increase significantly among people who have migraines.

One more interesting thing to note is that when thyroid conditions are treated, migraine and other headache symptoms are also positively affected. There is typically improvement, not only in the symptoms of the thyroid  but in the symptoms of the migraine as well. This too shows that there can be a direct relation between the headache and thyroid gland. What’s more, depression, anxiety, and stress are also triggers of migraines and since they too are symptoms of thyroid problems, they can further aggravate migraine scenarios.

What is seen from the above discussion is this:  There is still not enough evidence to accurately say whether or not thyroid and migraine/headaches are concretely linked. What is certain though is that there is some kind of connection between the two.  More studies need to be performed. Meanwhile, what can be done is that people who suffer from one condition need to become aware of the other and be mindful of the risks.


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