Are Migraine Headaches Genetic? Explore Migraine Headaches and what your DNA can tell you

What are migraine headaches?

Migraine is a condition that causes moderate to severe headaches. Some people with migraine experience sensory disturbances, including flashes of lights and temporary blind spots before or during a migraine headache. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. 

A person experiencing sensitivity to light/sound/smell, aura (flashes of light, blind spots) and nausea/vomiting. 

What are migraine triggers?

For people who experience migraine headaches, certain factors can increase the chances of an attack, depending on the person. Changes to a regular sleeping or eating routine, changes in the weather, and stress can trigger a migraine. Other common triggers include dehydration, certain foods and drinks, and even certain odors. 

Some common triggers include: changes to sleep or eating routine, stress, dehydration, certain odors, certain foods and drinks and changes in the weather.

Are migraines genetic? 

It’s not completely understood what causes migraine, but along with environmental factors, genetics appear to play a role. If one of your family members has migraine, you have an increased chance of developing it too. 

Find out how genetic testing for migraines works.

Did you know?

Other than family history, your age and sex can also impact your chances of developing migraine. Often the condition begins at a young age. The most severe migraine headaches typically occur in a person’s 30s but luckily, they can become less frequent and less severe with age.

In terms of sex, females are more likely to have migraine. Hormonal changes, particularly during menstruation, can trigger a migraine headache for some.

Find out if your genetics might increase your likelihood of developing mirgraines

Interested in learning how your genetics may be related to migraine? You can get the Migraine report (Powered by 23andMe Research) through the 23andMe+ Premium membership. 23andMe+ Premium includes everything in our Health + Ancestry Service plus new premium reports and features throughout the year.

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Please note:

  • The Migraine report does not diagnose migraine and should not be used to make medical decisions.
  • The report was developed by 23andMe scientists using data and insights gathered from thousands of customers who consent to participate in our research. Reports based on 23andMe research provide an estimate of your likelihood of developing a condition based on your genetics and other factors. This report does not account for lifestyle or family history.
  • The report does not account for every possible genetic variant that could affect your likelihood of developing migraine.

References 

Becker WJ et al. (2015). “Guideline for primary care management of headache in adults.” Can Fam Physician. 61(8):670-9. 

Burstein R et al. (2015). “Migraine: multiple processes, complex pathophysiology.” J Neurosci. 35(17):6619-29. 

GBD 2016 Headache Collaborators. (2018). “Global, regional, and national burden of migraine and tension-type headache, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016.” Lancet Neurol. 17(11):954-976. 

Gross EC et al. (2019). “The metabolic face of migraine – from pathophysiology to treatment.” Nat Rev Neurol. 15(11):627-643. 

Kelman L. (2006). “Migraine changes with age: IMPACT on migraine classification.” Headache. 46(7):1161-71. 

MacGregor et al. (2010). “Guidelines for All Healthcare Professionals in the Diagnosis and Management of Migraine, Tension-Type, Cluster and Medication-Overuse Headache.” British Association for the Study of Headache. 3rd edition (1st revision). 

Mayo Clinic. “Migraine.” Retrieved April 6, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201.