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Posted: March 17, 1999



Does blood donation make migraines better or worse?

Is there any data, published or anecdotal, that regular blood donation may affect the frequency and/or severity of migraines in patients with chronic recurrent migraines?

The following ideas have been submitted in response to the posed question. These opinions are paraphrased and are being presented without attribution. They do not represent an official opinion or position of the CBBS.

  1. One panelist stated that he was not aware of any data on this topic. In addition, he knew a young woman who was a periodic blood donor, and that she had recurrent migraines; but that she never commented on whether there was any correlation, increase or decrease of her migraines, when she did or did not donate blood.

  2. Three other panelists stated flatly that they knew of no such data, either published or anecdotal, on this topic.

  3. So, please do NOT get a headache over this question.

    The following was submitted after the summary was circulated. However, it is interesting, in that it represents the opinion of a migraine sufferer. Obviously, the identity of the author is not disclosed.

"This is anecdotal -- I have had migraines for about 25 years. Within that period of time I have been able to characterize what 'triggers' my migraines. Some are hormonal, the others are related to lack of sleep, DEHYDRATION, and stress. My headaches are well-characterized enough that my primary care physician has asked me to lead a 'headache-relief' group (I declined, due to lack of time, and because my schedule is so full that I don't want to cause more stress!!) When I recognize that my 'mouth is dry' I can say, I am dehydrated, and be in the midst of a full-blown migraine within about 30 minutes. When you review the literature they constantly refer to foods that may trigger migraines - but look at the foods; nuts, aged cheeses, smoked meats, pickled foods, red wine, caffeine -- ALL FOODS THAT WOULD RESULT IN A LEVEL OF DEHYDRATION -- that is my own opinion, just what I have seen - nuts make you thirsty, cheeses make you thirsty, smoked meats make you thirsty, hence, dehydration.

Related to blood donation, I have been a blood donor for years, but I 'chug' about 32 ounces of water the morning of donation, have lunch with another GIANT 'chug' of water, and then donate. I do this because otherwise, I tend 'not to feel well' during / after donating. I think I 'pre-medicate' by drinking all of this water, so a migraine following donation has not occurred for me, but it certainly makes sense with all of my other information."

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