Could this be migraines?
July 4, 2009 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Is what I am experiencing today a migraine? I have never had this before.

This morning when I stepped out the door, I noticed my brain hurt, localized behind my right eye. At first I thought it was a pinched nerve in my neck. So I stood up real straight and moved my arms around. That didn't work. So I held my tongue up against the roof of my mouth, as if I had a slurpee brain freeze. That also didn't work. I thought perhaps I slept funny, and needed to get the blood flowing to wash whatever it was away. So I went for a short, light jog. That sharpened the pain significantly. I had to stop and cover my eye with my hand because it hurt so bad. I was grimacing. I came home and put on dark sunglasses. I have been wearing them all day.

My guess right now is that the weather is causing this. I know some people get migraines when it's hot. But that doesn't make sense because it's not even that hot today. It's like 70, and this morning it was approximately 60.

It has been getting better throughout the day. It's not that bad right now. I'm pretty confident it will go away tomorrow morning. I didn't drink any alcohol or anything last night.

Is this what migraines are? I am 27 and have never had this before.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
Lots of things cause migraines. Mine come on if I screw up my sleep schedule, some are hormonally related, my mother's are caused by fast food (something in the fry oil), and my brother's are caused by stepping out into bright sunlight. So it could be a lot of things.

It might be a migraine; if you'd said something about visual effects (like tunnel vision or blind spots) I'd be more confident, but no one on the internet can say for sure. I'd go see a doctor.

But if you think it is a migraine, what usually helps for me is double-dosing on Excedrin and sleeping in a cool dark room for a few hours. I'm still a little woozy afterward, but at least the pain is gone.
posted by olinerd at 11:21 AM on July 4, 2009

A pain "behind the eye" is the kind of short-term headache I get from stress/caffeine, not a migraine. But I think this is a pretty personal thing.
posted by rokusan at 11:21 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sounds like a migraine. I've had four in my life, all in my mid-20s. Haven't had one for more than a decade. Rest up if you can. It will go away. (First one I had, I really thought I was dying. I didn't.)
posted by scruss at 11:23 AM on July 4, 2009

Any sudden, sharp pain in your head warrants a visit to the doctor, to rule out the possibility of a serious condition. Migraines are painful and can be terribly unpleasant (I know this, oh yes I do), but not serious, as in life-threatening.

If I were you, I'd make an appointment to see my doctor first thing Monday.
posted by Dolley at 11:24 AM on July 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I get the impression they vary in severity; I've had a friend who got them periodically and he could function with one.

When (rarely!) I get them, they've been bad enough that I'm hallucinating and can do little but roll around in my bed moaning for pretty much an entire day.

I think there's more than one kind.
posted by vernondalhart at 11:24 AM on July 4, 2009

Wait a while and see if it happens more than once.
Migraine is a recurring thing.
posted by Ingenting at 11:26 AM on July 4, 2009

Maybe. A migraine isn't just a bad headache but worse - they aren't even necessarily painful. Sometimes I just get the visual field disturbances and overwhelming nausea, which is a lot more disabling than it sounds. Sensitivity to light is common with migraines but nothing else in your description is especially pointing that way. There are plenty of different kinds of focal headaches though, so a trip to your doctor is on order.
posted by Lolie at 11:33 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I get those types of headaches from allergies/sinus pressure. Just throwing another possible cause out there. You may want to make a doctor's appointment just to be safe. Doesn't hurt to get an exam every year or so if you don't usually anyway.
posted by ishotjr at 11:54 AM on July 4, 2009

Migraines vary hugely from person to person. But asymmetric sharp pain and a sensitivity/aversion to light are both classic migraine symptoms.

There are other things that might be making your head hurt (plain ol' tension headache, cluster headache, brain hemorrhage, pixies pricking you while you sleep, …) but if it's gone by the end of the day I'd write it off as a migraine and not worry about it until it recurs.
posted by hattifattener at 11:56 AM on July 4, 2009

Could be. Could be something else.

If you have access, go see a doctor if it hasn't gone away in the morning. If it has gone away... well, it was probably just a thing and now you know if it happens again "Oh, that thing happened and it sucked and maybe it went away" and DEFINITELY mention it next time you have a regular check-up as these days you can get really fast-acting drugs for migraines.

Also: watch out for any dizziness/vision disturbances that don't involve pain as those might also be signs of migraine.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:24 PM on July 4, 2009

I had a very painful, dull ache below my left eye yesterday, which I get from time to time during allergy season. Sinus pressure could be another possibility.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 PM on July 4, 2009

Doesn't sound like a bad migraine if it was one. I get them from time to time. If I notice them early (usually this is possible - for me, my left eye tends to feel heavy and focusing kind of feel slow, but it doesn't hurt) and dose up on painkillers and lay low they'll go away in a few hours. If I leave them be, they get progressively worse until I literally can't really do anything (standing up makes me dizzy in a very 'my balance is gone' way, moving my eyes hurts like none other). At that point, sleeping is the only thing that helps, but it's always gone after a good sleep. Asked my doctor, he said if it's just once in a while there's really nothing you can do, because the medications are worse than dealing with it when it comes up if they're not very frequent.
posted by devilsbrigade at 12:38 PM on July 4, 2009

i am very rarely the person on metafilter who screams "go to a doctor" but there is a saying that when you have the first headache of your life, or the worst headache of your life, you should go to the ER immediately as it could be a sign of something very serious. so, since i get headaches almost every day, i don't worry about it. but if i suddenly had the worst headache i'd ever had, i would go to the doctor asap. so, if this is the FIRST headache you've ever had, that wasn't caused by an obvious trigger (not eating in a while, caffeine withdrawal, etc.) i would seriously consider at least calling the doctor to see if they think you should come in. headaches of a mysterious and new nature are nothing to mess with.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:58 PM on July 4, 2009

I started having migraines in my 20s, and they started just as you described: pain in one eye (the left), with a sensitivity to light. It felt like a dull spike going through my eye and into my brain. I had no nausea. Sometimes the left pupil was bigger than the right, which was scary. I went to an ophthalmologist, who sent me to a neurologist, who diagnosed migraine.

Avoiding fermented foods helped me a lot. I also get temporary relief from holding my left nostril closed and breathing only through the right. The migraines got better as I got older, and now I get them only occasionally.

If you aren't clearly better tomorrow, you might want to go to a doctor.
posted by PatoPata at 1:35 PM on July 4, 2009

Sure sounds like a migraine.

I recognize this is late, but you can always try to get someone to run through the simple F.A.S.T. test for strokes with you.
posted by codswallop at 4:55 PM on July 4, 2009

I can pretty reliably trigger one of these if I combine dehydration with a lot of driving on a bright day. Make sure you drink plenty of water.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:45 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Was the air pressure messed up? I often get migraines on days with volatile weather that shift quickly from low pressure to high pressure and back down again. There's not a strong correlation with heat specifically, for me anyway.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:04 PM on July 4, 2009

You didn't say if you're a man or a woman. I get migraines related to hormonal spikes - every so often just before a period, or when I'm ovulating. They aren't common, but I sure do know about them, and they sound very similar to what you're describing.

I also get migraines from insufficient caffiene intake. If you've had a cup of joe less than you normally have I'd add that to the list of things to try. Caffiene in tea and chocolate can cause the same thing - I had a lady friend who used to eat a family sized block of chocolate a day and had massive headaches when she cut back.

Dehydration can cause it too, and too much sugar has on occasion caused it. That slurpee of yours - have you had heaps today?
posted by Jilder at 11:42 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

It could be dietary. Either the aforementioned dehydration, or caffeine withdrawal, or you haven't eaten anything worth a damn (i.e. not mostly processed sugar or fast food) in the last 24 hours. I will get bushwhacked like you described, although not as severely, if I get up to physical activity without any nutrients to draw upon.

The most severe migraine I've ever had was caused by acetaminophen withdrawal. I had been pounding throat cold mixture for five days because of the flu and it turned out that I had become dependent on it. You don't mention if you're on or off anything, but it could be a possibility if you regularly use painkillers, sleeping pills, or antidepressants.
posted by greenland at 11:59 PM on July 4, 2009

Four cups of coffee and two Tylenol always put my shit mostly straight during a migraine. However, this is new to you, and you should contact your doctor-- during my first big one when I was 20, I ended up in the ER getting a head CT, just to rule out a stroke. You don't want to screw around with new and fascinating neurological symptoms.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:13 AM on July 5, 2009

yep, migraines differ for everyone. I suffer migraines but only once have had accompanying nausea, I don't get visual disturbances, I do get light sensitivity and very very bad headache, usually travelling down nerves into my shoulder (I get them on left or right side only). Mine were sparked off after a whiplash injury, so this is probably why mine are different. Mine last 3-4 days usually and I can't do anything at all other than lie down and be miserable. If I haven't had coffee recently, then a cup or a Coke will snap it in the bud if i have it right after the migraine starts. Otherwise paracetamol (acetaminophen) with copious amounts of codiene on prescription is the only thing that helps vaguely. I too recommend you go to a doctor just because everybody's migraines are different, and different medications work for different people (sadly, typical migraine medications don't work at all on me so far).

Oh triggers - for me, travelling in a bumpy bus or train for hours, airplane travel, not eating regularly, heat, stress, and sometimes nothing at all from what I can tell!
posted by nunoidia at 7:05 AM on July 5, 2009

I had the exact same issue 3 weeks ago after returning from a camping trip. I never had migraines before. The pain would come and go throughout the day. After a few days of it persisting, I went to my family physician.

My doctor gave me Imatrex and Vicodin, but it never helped. Soon I began getting really fatigued and entire-body muscle aches.

I got a few small rashes on my back within a few more days.

The culprit, Lymes Disease. Now Im on 3 weeks of antibiotics and slowly feeling better.

Just thought Id throw it out there!
posted by EdoubleG at 11:17 AM on July 5, 2009

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