Migraine Headaches
March 14, 2004 5:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for web resources on migranes -- multi-day, flat-on-your-back monsters, impervious to post-op-level codeine and other serious drugs, that leave you thinking (god forbid) about tumors and such. A friend's ongoing struggle with these is really starting to worry me, even though MRIs haven't shown anything. Of course, any personal stories and/or remedies are welcome as well. Thank you.
posted by gottabefunky to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My remedy: eat a good, balanced meal, then immediately take one aspirin and one extra-strength Tylenol. Rub lavender oil on your temples (if nothing else, it smells good), lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room with an ice pack on your head where the pain is concentrated most, and sleep for at least 45 minutes. It works for me about half the time, as long as I do every one of those things.

Finding the trigger is very important. For me it's caffeine (which I avoid) and my period (which I can't avoid.) I'm sure there are many lists online of possible triggers.
posted by ukamikanasi at 6:08 PM on March 14, 2004

ukamikanasi- re: your period. If you're not trying to get pregnant go onto Depo Provera. It flat out stops you from getting your period (at least it does for almost every woman who goes on it.) And it's about 100% effective. Just an FYI. I didn't have my period for six straight years. What a great thing that was!
posted by aacheson at 6:13 PM on March 14, 2004

My own remedy: turn off all the lights and take a long, warm bath in the dark. It sounds stupid, but it works pretty well to take your mind off the pain. Then try to sleep in a very dark, quiet room. The warmth of the bath will make your body feel nice and cool once you're out of it, which helps a lot. If the migraine comes with dizziness and nausea (usually mine do), a little marijuana will make these symptoms fade long enough to let you sleep. Sleeping always seems to defeat my migraines.
posted by vorfeed at 6:22 PM on March 14, 2004

Also, just as a heads up, some people with migraine-like headaches are diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
posted by planetkyoto at 6:45 PM on March 14, 2004

The only thing that works for me besides Imitrex (which really has been a wonder drug for me, scary as the possible side effects could be,) is sleeping it off. Scents, sound, light, motion, most touch- it all just makes the migraine worse, so I keep jersey knit sheets on my bed (which are very soft,) so when a migraine comes knocking when I'm without Imitrex, I can strip down and retreat to bed for 8 to 12 hours.

Sometimes, tying a tight headband around my head (preferably across my eyes) helps- the tighter the better, for those migraines when it feels like cracking your skull open might actually make it better, and occasionally, a cold rag across my eyes is soothing, too. They don't really do anything for the duration of the migraines, but they make it easier to finally fall asleep.
posted by headspace at 6:50 PM on March 14, 2004

Cut out all grains (corn syrup, vinegars etc.) and dairy. Take magnesium. If after a week of eating only organic vegetables and meat there is no improvement, visit a naturopath to do a blood draw to detect IgG antibodies; this is for delayed food allergies. The standard allopathic IgE or skin tests are only for immediate reactions and sadly not very helpful in this situation.

Get both panels. Insurance might not cover it, but with that debilitating type of pain, it doesn't much matter. Quality of life is more important.

Naturopaths are fond of asking for your 5 favorite/comfort foods. Chances are the allergy is in there. If there is an allergy, expect uncomfortable emotional withdrawals when abstaining from the culprit.
posted by Feisty at 6:51 PM on March 14, 2004

Although I read anecdotes about people's migraines miraculously disappearing following a change in their diet or lifestyle, in my experience this is rare. I think most chronic migraine sufferers' headaches can only really be effectively managed by pharmacological means.

Headache pharmacology has come a long way in the past ten years, and there are many new medications on the market and in development specifically for the treatment of migraine. Even five years ago, proscribing opioids or barbiturates to migraine suffers to relieve their headache pain was common. Nowadays, triptans (5-HT 1B/1D receptor agonists) have all but replaced analgesics in treating chronic migraines. A number of drugs are also commonly proscribed for headache prophylaxis (beta-adrenergic blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, ect.), however prophylaxis is a lot more difficult to establish than simply treating the migraine with Imitrex or another triptan once the migraine develops.

I would suggest that your friend consult with a neurologist who deals exclusively with migraines. As your friend has already had an MRI, I assume he/she's seen a neurologist; however, I would suggest he/she visit a specialist headache centre, as in my opinion, a great number of neurologists treat migraine less than optimally. The National Headache Foundation maintains lists of headache experts and generally has lots of great information for headache sufferers.
posted by trident at 8:33 PM on March 14, 2004

What Trident said. Although it is as good an excuse to quit smoking as any :)

There are specific treatments for migraines, which are more than just "headaches only moreseo." Someone I know has been given an at-home injection kit for the worst of them, and it's no pain-killer I've ever heard of before. Specialized treatment is out there to be found.
posted by scarabic at 8:55 PM on March 14, 2004

Gottabefunky: the link from this old thread about migraine really helped, as it's full of reliable information. My sympathies too, as a fellow-sufferer. :(
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:36 PM on March 14, 2004

One of the simplest things that cut back on my migraines was going to the eye doctor. I was 5 years old and getting migraines, they sent me for a load of tests before they tested my eyes.

After I got glasses, they improved greatly. By wearing my glasses, avoiding food triggers, not allowing myself to become overheated, I've cut them down to once a month or so.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:18 PM on March 14, 2004

I posted some stuff on my site (scuse the mess - self link alert) - which was links to the kind of migraines my SO has...which can lead to temporary blindness as well as other random symptoms...

Some of those links might help you...theres stuff on there about migraines and menstruation...

Please so research on Imitrex (and its derivatives) and the type of migraines that you are experiencing...sometimes the two things are contra-indicated.
posted by mattr at 1:20 AM on March 15, 2004

acch....I meant:

Please do research....
posted by mattr at 1:21 AM on March 15, 2004

I had migraines on/of for years, nothing worked, although strong coffee at the very outset did, if I recognised the symptoms fast enough. Finally my GP sent me to a chiropractor, and I got a series of upper neck adjustments, and they started to go away. They came back a few times, but new sessions of chiropracty sent them away again.
posted by carter at 7:10 AM on March 15, 2004

Imitrex works for me too, that is if I can catch the migraine when it starts. If I don't catch it, then it's T3's to mask the pain.
posted by btwillig at 7:46 AM on March 15, 2004

I will echo carter's experience. My upper neck and back are totally messed up, and since I've been seeing a chiropractor, I've had remarkably few headaches. One note - finding the right chiropractor for you is key. I originally started seeing one doctor who I felt incredibly uncomfortable with (mainly due to his assembly line style practice). The doctor I'm with now not only gives me adjustments, but also works the soft tissues and muscles in the area. And I spend time strengthening and stretching with a physical therapist. All of this has helped the frequency and severity of my headaches tremendously.

Another thing you might want to look into is Cranio-Sacral therapy. I've only gotten one treatment, but a friend of mine was getting regular sessions and said it made a huge difference in her migraines.
posted by MsVader at 9:15 AM on March 15, 2004

I had debilitating migraines with my period every month until I started taking a low dose of Serzone (an anti-depressant). Apparently keeping your seratonin at a more even level helps to keep migraines under control. I still get them most months now, but I can still function -- no more lying in a dark room crying. (I've been on it for about 4 years, and haven't had a really bad one in that time.) Now, if I miss a day of Serzone, I get a migraine.

The other thing I've found is that if I force myself to keep doing things when get one, I do a lot better -- it just gets worse when I lay down. There was a study a few years ago that showed the symptoms get worse when adrenaline drops, so keeping up the same amount of activity can help keep it at bay. (Sorry, but my doctor showed me the studies, and I have no idea how to find them again.)
posted by doubtful_guest at 12:22 PM on March 15, 2004

as btwillig mentions, I've read that when taking migraine-specific medication, it is crucial to do so as quickly as possible at the first signs of onset. If taken too late, these new triptans don't help at all.
posted by obloquy at 1:57 PM on March 15, 2004

A doctor gave me a few samples of relpax and it was the first thing that ever worked. i am not sure but it is probably very similar to imitrex. i was not aware of any terrible side effects.. but i am going to be checking that out asap.

when i dont have the replax i cope by being in complete darkeness... either a dark room or something over my eyes and sleep it off. that is the only way i can deal because i cannot function in the state a migraine creates.

i think it is my bodies way of saying stop thinking lay down and take a break from life.

posted by Recockulous at 4:49 PM on March 15, 2004

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