Losing weight may prevent frequent migrainesSteven Perez/silas216/ Flickr

Excess weight can increase the risk of getting migraines more frequently, a new study says.

Migraine is a headache disorder that is often accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Migraines can be either chronic or episodic.

Chronic migraine occurs when a person experiences headaches for 15 or more days a month for three months, of which eight carry the symptoms of migraines. In episodic migraine, headache occurs only less than 15 days a month.

There exists solid evidence to prove the link between obesity and chronic migraines. However, study author B. Lee Peterlin, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and his colleagues wanted to examine the role of excess fat in episodic migraine.

The study included 3,862 participants, aged 47. Researchers analysed prevalence of migraines among the participants and noted down their physical features, including height and weight. More than 1,000 participants were obese and 188 complained of episodic migraines.

The authors found that episodic migraine was more common among obese participants than people having a healthy weight. The study published in the online issue of the journal Neurology concluded that obesity increased the risk of migraines by 81 percent.

Concerned with the findings, the researchers urged health practitioners to spread more awareness among their patients about the link between episodic migraine and obesity.

"Previous studies have shown a link between people with chronic migraine and obesity, but the research has been conflicting on whether that link existed for those with less frequent attacks," said Peterlin. "As obesity is a risk factor that can potentially be modified and since some medications for migraine can lead to weight gain or loss, this is important information for people with migraine and their doctors."

Apart from obesity, several other factors like depression, disturbed sleep, anxiety and excess use of caffeine or medicines can also increase the risk of getting frequent migraines. According to PubMed Health database of the US National Library of Medicine, certain foods like avocado, food containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) and tyramine (red wine, chicken liver) can trigger migraines.