Coexisting Conditions

“Comorbid” is a word I’m seeing more and more in discussions of migraine. I don’t know if it’s appearing in more patient-centered articles than it once did or if I see it more because I read so much more about migraine than I once did. In any case, it’s something everyone with headache should know about.

Here’s the definition: Comorbidities are disorders that have a greater-than-coincidental association with another disease. According to WebMD, disorders that are thought to be comorbid with migraine including stroke, epilepsy, lupus, Raynaud syndrome, multiple sclerosis, essential tremor, bipolar disease, depression, anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social phobia. Meniere’s disease and certain gastrointestinal disorders are also sometimes mentioned.

It’s like being in high school. Maggie, Ann and Peter are best friends and don’t go anywhere without each other. Ann starts dating Steve and he becomes the fourth member of the group. Does Ann cause Steve to be part of the group? Could he have joined them if he was Maggie’s lab partner and she knew her other friends would like him? What if they all sit next to each other in a class and Steve just naturally joins the group? Does it matter which came first or why?

There aren’t many web resources that catalog and describe comorbidities. The best I’ve found is Headache Disorders: Common Coexisting Conditions. If you want to know if a specific disease is comorbid with migraine, the best online option is to Google both terms together or use both terms and comorbid or coexist.