Migraines & Adults' Headaches

Parent Q&A

Migraines Apr 3, 2017 (6 responses below)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for managing chronic migraine pain Jul 31, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • Migraines

    (6 replies)

    I've suffered from Chronic Daily Headache (CDH) and frequent migraines for 13 years.  I've tried everything under the sun to treat them (acupuncture, botox injections, acupressure, food triggers, food sensitivities, osteopathy, bee venom therapy, etc. etc. etc.!  The most effective strategies for me are avoiding food triggers (which has left me with a very bland diet) and biofeedback.  However, my migraines are increasing in frequency lately which I find worrisome.  I'm almost done breastfeeding my last child so I'm considering a preventative medication.  Does anyone have a fantastic neurologist that they can recommend for migraine treatment?  Thanks!

    RE: Migraines ()

    Have you tried going totally wheat free? Worked for my terrible daily migraines! I've been migraine free since kicking wheat and gluten (no barley, oats, etc).

    RE: Migraines ()

    Oh, wow, so sorry.  And I do understand. During a 47 day bout with one never-ending migraine, the mother of all migraines since they started at ripe age of 9, I was desperate. Like you I've tried many 'natural' approaches. I didn't want to go the RX route--but would've since I'd reached end of my rope.  However, via online research, I found the Auto-immunity Protocol Paleo (AIP paleo) nutrition plan. And it has changed my life.  I don't know if it'll work for you but for decades & decades, nothing helped.  And like you they started to become more frequent and more horrible.  The AIP paleo isn't easy in the beginning, but I'm so used to it now.  When I go off it, I not only can get a headache (not yet full boat migraine) but I can't see well --I know that's odd-- and my body feels like I have the flu.  I don't go off it very often for this reason.  Good luck.

    RE: Migraines ()

    I've seen two neurologists at Kaiser Oakland - both were very knowledgeable and open to all types of treatments.  The sad reality is that it's trial and error to find which preventive med will work for you - and it can be a frustrating and long process.  I've had unbelievable success with nortriptyline.  I went from an average of 15 days per month of headaches to two days.

    However, it took me 3.5 years to work my way through:  non-drug options (Butterbur/magnesium, etc..), beta-blockers, Topamax and Botox..  Ironically, nortriptyline was one of the first suggestions from my neurologist - I tried it, but didn't think it helped much at the time.  Then, a couple years later, after failing Botox, I realized that the 2 months on nortriptyline was actually pretty good in terms of the number of migraines per month. (I recommend keeping a tally!)  So, I tried it again and upped the dose and that did the trick!  

    It's been life-changing.  Best of luck!

  • My daughter (17) has been suffering with chronic migraine for years, and her neurologist has recently suggested trying CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help manage it.  I wonder if anyone has a recommendation for someone who specializes in this very particular niche: has anyone had wonderful (or not-so-good) experiences with therapists hopefully in the East Bay?  Thanks in advance for your help!!

    Hi. I don't have a therapist to recommend, but as a peer of yours wanted to share my story with you as a migraine sufferer. Migraines run in my family and at the age of 12, around puberty I began experiencing them. It was only a few at first, but at age 16 they would happen once a month and shut me down for days and only a trip to the E.R. could remedy the worst ones, (there were none of the currently available meds at that time to treat them.) My own personal feeling is that they are seriously tied to hormonal fluctuations for women, AND really tied to our stress level and emotions. I also don't think it is fair to tell women that they are "all in our head" either, because they certainly are not, even if our emotional state contributes to them!!!! I was a very Type A person in high school, involved in way too many activities, constantly juggling academics and my leadership roles and working part time. My own family was stressful and I really did not know how to manage any of it. It seemed that I was really pulled together on the outside, but on the inside, I worried and hid so much from my own family. I think that is really what made my migraines soooo bad. When I left for college, I decided not to join any clubs or groups, and I was out of reach of my parents and all of their expectations, and I started being a little bit of a "bad girl"(but it was all very tame by today's standards- ha ha) and you know what? My migraines stopped. I think also that my hormones had leveled off as well, but letting go, not having a really high stress level with the pressure to succeed and also starting to see a therapist to work out old issues helped me as well. I know that hormones and stress are my biggest triggers, but every woman is so different. I really wish that CBT had been offered to me as a teen, it would have helped me so much. I think it is a great avenue to explore, and I wish you both luck- there are gonna be some great therapists in this area who specialize in this! I hope some other posters can share names with you. best...

    Hi Susan. I saw your message and had to reply. There is a child psychologist in Berkeley who specifically does CBT with teens who have migraines and chronic pain named Dr. Rachel Zoffness. I heard about her from my daughter's friend's mother when I was looking for a CBT therapist who works with kids. She has stellar training (Brown U, Columbia U, UCSD) and has a PhD in Psychology. Website has all the info, www.zoffness.com. It's such a specific niche I felt silly having this info and not sharing it with you. I hope your daughter gets the help she needs and feels better soon!! Best of luck to you... PT.

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Migraines - At the end of my rope

Oct 2008

I am 36 and have suffered with migraines since 11. I am going through a particularly stressful time (divorce) and am a single mother so I would 'expect' to have more migraines than usual; however, I am having them nearly everyday - 9 days out of the past 14. They used to be triggered by menstruation but now are pretty much constant. I am losing my mind.

I have tried massasge, acupuntcture, chiropractic. I have eliminated alcohol, dairy, chocolate, dried fruits. I am now on a ''raw until dinner'' food plan. I take preventative medication as well as medication for when I get the migraine.

I am hoping that someone out there has a new idea, advice - something. I lose SO much time to feeling terrible. I feel desperate and overwhelmed. Anon.

Neil Raskin, migraine guru at UCSF, (415) 353-2273. He will change your life. I suffered from what you've got -- chronic daily migraines -- tried everything you did plus a few more, nearly went bankrupt + crazy -- I didn't need a new lifestyle or diet or mindset, I just needed a better neurologist. One who knew migraine disease inside and out, got that it WAS a disease and didn't judge, wasn't afraid to scrap what didn't work and keep trying, wasn't afraid to medicate for pain....Don't worry about his manner, which some find gruff. I find him tremendously compassionate, but that doesn't matter -- he stuck with me till he found what worked, took several tries, and I'm no longer in pain. I'd come to believe that was impossible. tried everything else first

I feel for you -- I started having migraines about 4 years back after I developed a brain tumor (suggest you check with neurologist!) and the best doctors could do was to heavily medicate me, which doesn't spply since I need to be mentally sharp to deal with 5-year old and 7-year old girls that are always into trouble (my wife works 12 hour days since I am on permanent disability after surgery/complications). My migraines may be very different from yours (very different from the triggers for my wife also), so no sure thing that this will work. The only thing I found that worked was something called ''Cafergot'' which is an ergotamine that is used for Alzheimers, migraines and tinnitus. It's an old medicine, so it should be available as a generic by prescription. Suggest you look up ''Hyderzine'' which is the uncaffeinated version extolled in ''Life Extension'' magazine as used extensively in Europe. I have not been able to get the uncaffeinated version yet myself. I prefer this to Imitrex, since I hate needles and I'm not wild about something that works by (I hear) giving your brain little hemmorages to relieve pressure. steve

''I have tried massasge, acupuntcture, chiropractic. I have eliminated alcohol, dairy, chocolate, dried fruits. I am now on a ''raw until dinner'' food plan. I take preventative medication as well as medication for when I get the migraine.''

You don't mention exercise, so I thought to mention Seth Roberts, a self-experimenter, who wrote a post on this topic: http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2008/10/10/a-new-way-to-prevent-migraines/ It may give you some new ideas. I hope it makes a difference. Amy

Have you tried homeopathy? the confluence of migraines and the stress of divorce present a versy stessful situation that often triggers physical and emotional symptoms. There are several homeopaths in the East Bay, including myself. I'd be happy to discuss and help recommend someone. joel kreisberg joelk5635 [at] sbcglobal.net

My mom was a huge migraine sufferer and I have gotten them. In addition to what you listed you avoid, my mom would also avoid: aged or smoked meats and cheeses and hydrocarbon smells (gas, permanent markers, nail polish, some cleaning supplies, etc).

For me there is only 1 thing to avoid - dehydration. If you have a tea, coffee, or soda (diuretics), make sure you have a gatorade and/or OJ (high in potassium) and salt. Or skip caffeine. If not on caffeine, your urine should be pretty clear. If yellow, you're dehydrated. You could also get one of those body composition bathroom scales - it'll give you an est. body water. If you're 54% water, take salt (causes you to retain water) and drink liquids. Be extra sensitive to this when you're about to menstruate, 'cause your body retains water and you'll need more. Remember, if you've taken diuretics, you've washed away your salts and drinking water alone won't be sufficient to get hydrated. Large amounts of water will even dehydrate your further (rinses more salt out of you, and salt is what keeps the water). Good luck and I hope this helps you!

One note - your body can get ''addicted'' to ergotomine. If so used to getting ergotomine, you'll get a migraine if you haven't had ergotomine for a few days. I don't know if you take this or not, but something to check out. Anon.

I too have severe migraines that morphed into daily migraines about 5 years ago, even without overdoing medications. I know a lot about this due to extensive reading and I have a background as MD (not working due to other chronic illness). What really helped me were a combo of the following: 1. David Buccholz's book, Heal your Headache --my neurologist agrees it is very good. Read reviews on amazon for inspiration. 2. Two years of migraine prevention meds, until I hit one that helped. I failed 5 meds and went thru awful side effects, then ran into Keppra, which in combo with other measures, has helped. 3. Find a great neurologist who is familiar with Botox injections for migraine. I get Botox injection into scalp, occiput and neck every three months. 4. Sleep as regularly as you can, and exercise regularly, even if you have a migraine. Swimming, especially in cool water, seems to be good.

I still have headaches every day, but average 1-2 bad days per week. I usually treat them with a triptan, now that I did my ''triptan withdrawal'' a la Buccholz' book. I use triptans no more than once a week. Best wishes, I hope you get better soon! s

I feel for you-- I am 38 and have had migraines since I was a teenager. Nothing really worked for me until I went to the doctor for an unrelated problem (anxiety) and she prescribed citalopram. Amazingly, my migraines almost completely disappeared, and when I did get the occasional one it was much more bearable. I'm not on it anymore, since I'm pregnant, but so far so good-- still no migraines. I hope you find a solution that works for you! Finally found something that worked

I've heard of Botox being used to treat migraines. I haven't tried it myself since I stopped getting migraines once I quit work to stay home with my kids, but I know someone who it has worked for.

There is someone at UCSF who does this treatment. Sorry I don't have any more details, but it would be worth a call to UCSF. Neurology maybe? anon

I know some studies have shown that migraines can be triggered by hormonal changes and that going on a birth control pill really helps some women. Be sure to take the real medication every day - do not take the placebo pills in the packet. I read this in the Dr. Weil newsletter but I can't find it anymore otherwise I would give you the study info. I also read that taking butterbur extract 150mg daily can be preventative, as well as vitamin B-2 400mg daily (this requires a prescription from your doctor). Other things you can do are saliva tests to check your hormone levels and try to get them balanced. I don't know where to go for this but have seen recommendations in the past on BPN - so you could look there. My migraines are very infrequent so I've never tried any of these things, but I hope something works for you. Wishing you relief.

Neurofeedback, also known as eeg-biofeedback, has been very helpful with migraines. Check out brainbalancer.com and eeginfo.com. Carl

That really sounds horrendous. I feel for you hugely. I experienced migraines for only a little over 2 years and felt at the end of my rope... you are going on 25 yrs! Mine were related to my cycle and started out happening just at my period time, then added in at ovulation, then added in at the end of my period, and then added just past ovulation. Then a fifth one arose. They were rather predictable and would last for approximately 48 hours (give or take a few hours).

I tried elimination diets, too. And was doing acupuncture. What helped me was finding out that my hormone levels were seriously out of whack. Regular bloodwork showed nothing. It was through saliva testing that this was determined. Once I was able to work on balancing out the hormones, things started to improve dramatically. Dietary changes, adding in more exercise and some plant-based hormone supplementation seemed to do the trick. This may not be appropriate to your situation, but I'm throwing it out there as a possibility.

Best of luck to you in your endeavor to find freedom from migraines. the_missus

Avoid triggers such as bright lights and perfume. More info here: http://www.neurologychannel.com/migraine/index.shtml anon

First, I am sorry that you are having such a problem! I have been there. I started having migraines at the age of 4, and they have waxed and waned throughout the years (I am 51). My recent issue seemed to be triggered by ending breastfeeding with my last child at (!) 47. I was having the migraines almost daily. What helped for me was to finally get the right neurologist and the correct meds. I had been through several docs and had tried many, many preventative meds to no avail. I had literally NEVER had any medicine work for me. I don't know if it was the skill neurologist or some luck thrown in, but after my dr. put me on Effexor, my symptoms all but stopped within a month and have pretty much never returned. I can highly recommend Dr. Allen Bott in Oakland. Good luck! fellow migraine sufferer

Have you seen a neurologist recently? I too have had migraines since 1st grade and they used to get triggered by menstruation. Holistic stuff has never worked except for running my head under ice cold water in the tub--it restricts the blood vessels and provides some relief from the shooting pain.I know there are new drugs, both preventive and palliative. There is Stadol, a pain killer used by nose spray if you get nausea. And sometimes medical marijuana can help and is probably less dangerous than any of the prescribed stuff.

Other things may be food triggers. It is completely frustrating I understand. The final thing if none of this works is to see a pain management consultant. Feel free to email me. Lori

I suffered from frequent migraine headaches for years, but haven't had a migraine or even a faint headache for 6 months. One big change I made was to make sure I was adequately hydrated. I now drink a liter of sugarless electrolyte water every morning and a total of about 3 liters (12 cups) of water each day. There is a solution out there for you. Good luck! Kathryn

I am so sorry you are having this problem. I have had migraines for about the past 13 years (I am 43 now). And they had gotten worse in the past 2-3 years. About a year ago, when they were at their worst, I started acupuncture and went on the elimination diet that you talked about AND and stopped taking all pain meds ( Immatrex and Maxalt) for 3 months. And they did start to get better in that I had fewer and they were not as intense. And it was HARD not to take an immatrex when I started to get one. I have 2 small kids to take care of and to do it with a migraine is just too much sometimes. But I really felt like a lot of the headaches I was getting were rebound headaches from the Immatrex. (I was sometimes taking 3 to 4 in a week). And i know mine are mostly hormonally related. I almost always get one with my period and mid-cycle. What else has helped me is yoga and meditation. It is sometimes hard to find the time for these, but getting your headache threshold higher is what is so important now. Good luck and feel free to email if you want more advice. Andrea

Have you tried sustained-release niacin as a preventive measure? Try 375 mg. twice a day to start. Here's a report from the Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/pdf%2F7806%2F7806cr2.pdf

Have you already eliminated alcohol, chocolate, cheese, preserved meats, and tropical oils from your diet? (That's a good idea even if you don't have headaches.)

I assume you've already had an MRI of your brain and had your heart checked to eliminate other more serious causes of migraines. Headache free

Read in the New York Times today about ''Brain Drain,'' describing a case study of a woman with debilitating migraines. She deteriorated mentally and physically, eventually lapsed into a coma, after several weeks, many tests and doctors could not figure out her problem. Turned out to be a teratoma, basically a congenital benign tumor that can have stem cells that cause antibodies to attack the brain. This article was incredibly interesting. Google ''New York Times Brain Drain'' if this url doesn't work: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/magazine/09wwln-diagnosis-t.html?partner=rssnyt=rss anon

Hi BPNers,

I just wanted to say that I am so grateful to all of you who responded to my migraine post. I feel better just reading that I am not alone in this! Many of the recommendations I have tried in the past but there were also several new ideas that I am going to follow-up with.

Again, thank you. I feel fortunate to be part of this compassionate, creative and honest forum. Take care, Karena

Post-pregnancy vision/possible migraine problems?

Aug 2008

It's a stretch, almost, to say that I am ''post-pregnancy'' as my child is now 8 months, but I am saying it partly because my cycle has still not returned (I weaned at 5 months).

But here's the thing - I find that I am having trouble seeing clearly, with glasses more than contacts, and I think that twice in the last month or so I have had SLIGHT migraines (is that even possible? I was mostly sensitive to light and felt ''out of sorts'').

I went to my eye doctor and she said my prescription is fine (she wouldn't even look at the glasses though, which irritated me) and said my eye health is fine. She said I should go to my primary care physician because the brain processes images. I said, ''Do I have a tumor?'' And she said, ''probably not.'' Then she added that dry eyes can affect you this way. I said ''well, my eyes HAVE been really dry and drops do clear it up sometimes.'' She said, ''well you didn't come here complaining about dry eyes, so I doubt it's that.'' But I didn't really KNOW I had dry eyes until I put 2 and 2 together and figured out that when I wake up in the morning and can't keep my eyes open because they hurt, it's because they're dry.

Anyway, so I did some research on dry eyes and migraines and it seems both can be caused by hormonal imbalances and I'd say that I must be unbalanced because my period is not yet back.

So I guess I'm just wondering - has this happened to anyone else after pregnancy? Did your vision even in glasses (usually I see GREAT in glasses and the prescrip is new and correct) get a bit wonky? I have never had migraines before either - and now I think I have had two. Help? --Just want everything back to normal.

After the birth of my first, I started getting really bad headaches and while still in the hospital with my second I had an aura (which maybe what you were describing). And it's only gotten worse since then.

What my doc said is that while migraines can be hormonally related, migraines also tend to start in women around 30-35 yrs which coincides with childbearing so we often attribute it to childbearing when it really can just be that you're at the age that they come on (for whatever non-pregnancy related reason).

Sounds to me like you're starting to get migraines and if you are not breastfeeding there's no reason for you not to get a prescription to help deal with it.

And lighten up on your eye doctor. R

I had vision problems at 8 months, too. I also went to my eye doctor first (nothing there), and ended up with an MRI, looking for a brain tumor. Long story short, I have hypothyroidism. Ask for a test now--symptoms got much worse for me as time went on, my condition worsened, and doctors still hadn't figured out to test me for it yet. You might look around online for lists of symptoms--it was only after I got my diagnosis and starting reading that I realized how many of the symptoms I had been having and didn't think to put them all together. Good Luck

Only twice in my life before pregnancy I have had migraines, complete with visual auras (wonkiness!) before the big headache with light/noise sensitivity. Well, I am 30 weeks pregnant with my second child. Twice this pregnancy I had the visual auras that precede a migraine, but I did not get the actual migraine (headache with light/noise sensitivity). I'm not sure if this is hormones, or that once I got the visual auras, I immediately started trying to relax, doing deep breathing, neck muscle massage and stretches, reviewing all the stressors in my life and how I can deal with them, etc. Anyway, this is different from your situation (I'm not post-pregnancy!), but it's weird to twice have had the visual auras without the migraine. Ah hormones...

I don't mean to alarm you, but my sister had very similar symptoms (blurred vision and headaches) when her daughter was a few months old, and in my sister's case, sadly, it WAS a brain tumor that was causing the symptoms. I'm sure there's lots of other things that can cause the same symptoms, but please don't assume, because you gave birth 8 months ago, that the symptoms must somehow be associated with this fact. I think you should insist on a referral to a neurologist, and continue to pursue this until you either have a diagnosis, or the symptoms go away. Please don't allow your doctors to be dismissive about it -- my sister wasted months going from eye doctor to eye doctor before one of them FINALLY referred her to a neurologist. Meanwhile, precious time was lost when she could have been undergoing treatment. Best of luck to you, and I hope you find out that your symptoms are due to something far less serious! Diane

Without examining you myself, I'd say that you make a good case for dry eyes--especially the part about noticing more problems in the AM. If you also notice that artificial tears help things-- then there are some things that are worth a try:

1) Use a very goopy artificial tear at bedtime--using an ointment would be even better. Some ''goopy'' tears are: Genteal Gel, Celluvisc, Refresh Liquigel. If this makes you feel more comfy in the AM, then continue to use.

2) During the day, use artificial tears at regular intervals regardless of whether you feel you need them or not. Some good ones to try are: Systane, Theratears, or Blink. I'd say use every couple of hours to start.

Very dry eyes can cause light sensitivity, and tear chemistry definitely related to hormonal changes. I'm sorry your eye doctor did not work with you well to determine your problem. However, one reason they probably didn't pursue your problem at the end of the exam is that you can't test for tear film once the drops used to dilate your eyes has already happened. That's probably why you were blown off a bit once you realized dryness might be your problem.

Will this improve? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. Everyone's eyes get drier as function of age, so we all have that to look forward to. And, pregnancy can cause temporary or more permanent changes. Plus, if you have a little one, you are probably getting less sleep--and that doesn't help dry eyes. Plus, your level of hydration, the weather, pollution--there are many things that affect dry eyes.

I suggest you do both suggestions at top religiously for 2 weeks, then reassess. If it hasn't helped--you should get another opinion from another doc. If it has--then keep going! Start to reduce the number of drops to see how few you can do without being symptomatic! Optometrist

Well, I've never had the dry-eyes thing, but I have been a migraine sufferer for many years. My migraines are affected by hormones, and yes, your hormones are whacky after pregnancy and childbirth and nursing. For me, migraines intensified during early pregnancy, then cleared up for the later pregnancy. Post-partum was up and down with them. It took about a year for things to settle into a pattern.

I agree-you should see your primary care doctor. He or she might send you to a headache specialist or neurologist. Probably, things will settle down within the next year. But check it out anyway. Headaches are no fun

If you're in your late 30s or older, there's a possibility that the pregnancy has fast-tracked you into needing bifocals. And I'd get a new eye dr if she didn't even look at your darned glasses. (There are many many lazy optometrists out there; I've been to a few of them.) Could also be hormones too-especially the migraines. If these are your first migraines you may want to go to your primary anyway to get a baseline neurological exam. It took me several years, but I realized reluctantly that my eyes are in fact getting older, and that the reason I can't see my daughter up close is that my eyes don't focus well up close (and my eyeglasses were weak enough to cover up the fact, but my contacts were not). Check out the bifocal displays at the drugstores and see if it makes things easier. Oh, and the bad news, is that even if your vision returns, there's no such thing as ''back to normal'' once the babies come along.

Hi - I had post-pregnancy migranes beginning around the time my daughter began to self-wean (around 10 months, through the time she was fully (but newly) weaned, around 13 months. My period resumed just before this time, around 9 months post-partum. I think this was due to normal changes in hormones, many migranes are homrmone related and hormone-related migraine runs in my family (Grandmother, father, both sisters, and myself, all with varying degrees of frequency, duratoion, and severity. Knowing my family history I was neither surprised nor concerned about the migranes, and in fact was anticipating them. Interestingly I did not have any early pregnancy migranes, as I would have expected. My younger sister's very regular and severe migranes went away during her first pregnancy, but not with her second. What kind of family neurological history do you have? As for vision, my vision changed, for the worse, following pregnancy, but that may also be due to simple aging... I was 40 when my daughter was born. Sara

Sinus headache or migraine?

May 2008

I have had migraines for years and have figured out how to control them pretty well. But in the last few months I have had what I think are sinus headaches several times. These are new to me and I don't now how to deal with them. I will see my doctor about the situation, but I am wondering what others have done to find relief from sinus headaches? aching

I get both migraines and sinus headaches. I swear by the neti pot. I use it in the morning and at night EVERY day. It has helped with allergies and I haven't gotten a sinus infection in over a year. I find that if I am getting a sinus headache I can also take some sudafed (the real deal- behind the pharmacist's counter) and 400-600mg of Ibuprofen gelcaps and it tends to nock it out. good luck neti all the way

Make an appt with your eye doctor. I had horrible headaches that I thought were sinus headaches that turned out to be due to eye strain. (What a relief to discover this after months of horrible headaches that didn't go away with ibuprofen or sinus medicine.) It turns out my eyes were tired from all my reading in grad school and one eye was stronger than the other and that really gave me headaches. Tell your eye doctor you are having head aches and they can check to see if your vision is causing them. It's worth a shot! Andi

I suffer from both migraines and sinus headaches. The migraines I have under control and get maybe 2 per year. But the sinus headaches are frequent depending upon the weather. The best way I treat mine is with a decongestant (sudafed) and motrin (or alleve). My doctor also prescribed a sinus spray which helps alleviate the pressure as well. Sinus headaches are caused by buildup in the sinus cavities so that is way decongenstants work well. I used to try benedryl but my doctor told me that benedryl doesn't drain the sinuses. Sudafed (I use a generic version) works great and doesn't make me sleepy or hyper. Laurie

You might behaving hormone headaches. Are you in your mid-late thirties, or 40s? Do the headaches occur at the same general part of your cycle each month (in my case it is always the 3 and 4 week of my cycle). You may need to really pay attention to the calendar to be sure....

I began to have what I thought were terrible sinus headaches at 35. I went to a doc at Kaiser and explained the sx to him (sinuses ''popping'', stuffiness, pain which seemed deep in my head behind my nose) and he thought it sounded like a migraine. We did x rays and found no infection, but I was incredulous and he ended uo giving me Flonase. The headaches continued until I accidentally discovered that progesterone cream made them go away. (Was using it to aid fertility). Turns out, I had perimenopausal headaches. You might want to look into it. feeling better

I occasionally get sinus headaches, and I take the generic versions of 3 Advil, 2 Tylenol, a Sudafed, and a big cup of coffee or caffeinated soda. It relieves a lot of the pain, but I'm usually still sensitive to light and it hurts when I sneeze. The thing that has been PREVENTING them quite well, though, is a prescription steroid nasal spray, that I use every morning. It's called Nasonex. There are several others to try too, and if you're lucky, your doctor will give you free samples so you can try different kinds. They all seem to work for me. Good luck; I feel your pain! heidi

I too have been suffering from both migraines and sinus headaches for quite some time now. So I'm really interested to read what other people have to say on this subject. However, one possible suggestion I can offer is acupuncture. I've been seeing an acupuncturist in Emeryville for a few years now for sinus issues, migraines, allergies, etc. and the needle treatments, the back ''cupping,'' and the herbs have helped a lot. (Her name is Kirstin Lindquist and I highly recommend her specifically, but I\x92ve heard great things about other acupuncturists in the area as well.) Perhaps you could try acupuncture for a few months and see if you get positive results. It's well worth the time and money! PS The needles don't hurt, believe it or not! :) Mailisha

I am definitely not an expert, but I do get sinus headaches a lot and usually can keep them from getting really bad. (I was looking forward to other responses for more ideas!) I've mostly learned to identify sinus headaches early on, before they get too bad, and then try to help my sinuses drain as much as possible. For me, early signs are: headache that gets worse, not better, from lying down, or that is there right when I wake up in the morning, headache that does not respond to ibuprofen which usually works for my tension headaches, or headache with postnasal drip. As soon as I think a sinus headache is coming on, I use a nasal spray called NasalCrom (over-the-counter). Although all I want to do is lie down, I make myself sit upright as much as possible because otherwise the pressure gets worse. Steam from a hot shower, or a mug of either ginger or mint tea is good. Not sure why but even a carbonated drink seems to help a little. And some basic pain relief, too - ibuprofen or tylenol take the edge off for me. I've also heard that some exercise can help to open the sinus passages, so again I try to resist my curl-up-and-moan-in-pain urges and I think it does help. Good luck! sinus sufferer

Just a few more words on this, after reading the other responses: sinus headaches, for me, are often the result of allergies, and often just taking an antihistamine will do the trick for me. (Holding a warm cup of tea up to my forehead ain't bad either.) CAUTION on decongestants: I also get sinus headaches in really dry weather or when I've been in buildings with processed heat, so a decongestant will only dry me out more and worsen the problem if this is what sets it off. Thus, lots and lots of water or herbal tea, a warm wet washcloth across the face (looks so attractive!) and a humidifier can really help. I also get migraines, and I find that a sinus headache can trigger a migraine, so taking ibuprofen or whatever pain reliever you like before it really gets going is a good idea so you don't get the double whammy. elza

Pounding headaches during pregnancy

Nov 2007

Hi all: I'm 15 weeks pregnant with my 2nd and having the worst ''spot'' headaches... hoping someone out there might be able to help! I had these with my first baby, but only at the very end of my pregnancy (the last 6 or so weeks). They went away after my daughter was born.

The headache is a dull, painful throbbing directly behind/below my right ear. No where else. I've tried to look for triggers but can't seem to find any consistent pattern - they don't seem to be stress induced, I'm getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, etc. I've also tried Tylenol in desperation but it does nothing...

Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, is there anything that helps? I can get them to go away if I lie down and sleep for a while, but with a 2 year old and a full time job, that is not exactly a reality for me! Some massaging of the spot helps, but not enough to make them go away. They last for a day or so.

Thanks for any advice!! Mama with a pounding head

I struggled w/migraines that were out of control once I got pregnant w/my first. Acupuncture saved me! I saw Dennis von Elgg in Berkeley. Also, make sure you're not dehydrated. Good luck! So Been There!

I can completely relate! I'm in the middle of pregnancy with #2 also. I had some headaches in the second trimester with my first but they were reasonably mild and Tylenol worked. This time around they have been excruciating and debilitating!

My suggestion: Talk to your OB about it! I will tell you what mine did, but you should talk to your own doc about it and s/he will likely follow a similar course. First of all, I was maxing out on over-the-counter Tylenol and that's not healthy. So she put me on Vicadin instead. It worked a bit better but importantly isn't bad on the liver or whatever. Second, she told me to take caffeine when it was bothering me! Of course that's what we're all told not to take so I'd been off caffeine since my first pregnancy. But it really has helped SO much. If I get a headache, I get a cup of regular coffee in me and it makes a world of difference. The reason is this: the headaches are caused by your increased blood flow from the pregnancy. The blood is trying to flow through the same size vessels. Caffeine dilates the vessels giving that blood more room to move. Note that this also should primarily be early in your second trimester when the blood flow is increasing rapidly. So the end is likely in sight.

Anyways, I assume it's the same cause for you and these solutions will work for you, too. But it really is something to run by your doc first. S/he might have other suggestions as well.

Good luck - literally, I feel your pain but it gets better but it's worth taking something to get through it. Head Ache Mom

this is probably very specific to me, but i also had terrible headaches. i figured out that they tended to happen after eating about half the time. upon weeks of observation and deduction, i figured out that it was mostly potatoes that gave me these headaches! raw tomatoes also gave me a milder headache, but potatoes were the worst. turns out that the nightshade family of plants has inflammatory effects on some people, thus leaving some with headaches. see if cutting out potatoes will solve the problem - it's hard to avoid it though... good luck! kim

You might want to ask your doctor if these are migraines. The fact that they are on one side and get better when you lie down is consistent with migraines. I've suffered them for a long time and they got worse with my pregnancy. The drugs you can take for headache during pregnancy are limited (I was offered Tylenol, codeine or fioricet, which is butalbital, tylenol and caffeine combined). Some worked some of the time but I hated the idea of drugs so I turned to accupuncture which really helped. If you go this route, it is important to see someone who really knows what they are doing and has experience with pregnant women. A simpler solution might be an ice pack, sometimes that works for me. Also some doctors say it 's ok to take ibuprofen before the 3rd trimester, and that works a lot better for me than Tylenol. Best of luck to you, Fellow headache sufferer

I had some headaches during pregnancy (as well as backaches, heartburn etc.) and what helped was seeing my chiropractors - they do a gentle form of chiropractic called Network Spinal Analysis and actually specialize in pregnancy & pediatric health. I highly recommend them - Dr. Aaron Rosselle & Dr. Eileen Karpfinger at Upaya Center for Wellbeing. (510) 444- 8729 www.upayacenter.org anon


Oct 2007

I suffer from debilitating headaches when I'm on my period and once or twice at other times of the month. I have not discovered an ingested trigger (e.g. hormones, alcohol, caffiene, wheat, etc.). My family practitioner has suggested nortryptalene as a daily preventative drug to reduce the frequency and the duration of the headaches. I take triptans to abort the headaches. Anyone out there have experience taking nortryptalene as a migraine prevention treatment or for depression? I'm curious about side-effects and general effectiveness. thanks so much. m

Hi - I can certainly sympathize. I've suffered from Cluster Headaches all of my life (I'm 60) and the symptoms have now morphed into the Migraine headache category. Having been on many different preventatives over the years, my neurologist put me on Nortriptyline about 6 years ago. I started with two 10 mg pills per day and have been prescribed as high as 5 pills per day. I'm now on 40 mg a day. Do they help? Probably. The frequency and severity have lessened somewhat - the pills don't completely rid me of the headaches but, when I accidentally ran out, the headaches returned with a vengeance. I will say that, when I do get a headache, MAXALT-MLT will get rid of it within 15 minutes. It is truly a miracle drug. One side affect of Nortriptyline is that it's helped my depression. No question. But it also increases your appetite and, with 4 pills a day, I can't stop eating. Now, THAT'S depressing! LOL If you only get headaches during your period, maybe you only need a quick-shot drug like Maxalt MLT? I'd bring that up with your doctor. Good luck! Carole

For yrs & yrs, about 25, I had frequently recurring bouts of severe headaches, & pretty much constant low-grade ones- headaches were a daily part of my life.

Some of them were identifiable migraines, some of them probably atypical migraines, & some were other types. I eventually saw a headache specialist who told me that once you've had migraines it sets you up for all the varieties of headaches.

My headache bouts have lessened a great deal in the last few years, both in frequency & intensity, & I when I do get a headache, tylenol's usually enough to chase it away (if not, the only thing that works for me is vicodin). I can't say (with one exception, see below) exactly what to ascribe the improvement to, as I have bipolar II disorder & Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, have to take several different daily meds, the meds & dosages have gotten tweaked pretty often over the years, & it's impossible to say exactly which is doing what.

But here's a little med info for you anyway, I can't tie any of it to the headache changes for certain, but maybe something will be useful:

I took Nortriptyline for several yrs for depression in a very low dose & it helped some. When I switched psychiatrists my new one changed me to Surmontil (which is a rather obscure older tri-cyclic AD) at a higher dose, & it's helped more w/the depression.

I've taken Neurontin for a good number of yrs in varying dosages, & that helps some people with headaches- don't know if it's been a factor for me, can only say that it has a calming effect.

I also take Lamictal (mood stabilizer), Levothroid (thyroid), Adderall (as an anti-dep, not for ADHA), & hormone replacement (including methyltestosterone). Also 6000mg of fish oil.

The one thing I can say for absolute certain is that after seeing the headache specialist and beginning to pay really close attention to possible triggers, I realized that any time I ingested ANY aspartimane, even the amount in a tiny mint, I got a horrible blinding headache within a few minutes. Now I never go near the stuff, & haven't had even one of that particular type of headache since. Anon

I have what my doctor calls ''Menstrual Migraines'' - I got a migraine usually just before my period and then again midcycle. I recently started using an estrogen patch for just a few days a month - my timing isn't perfected yet but I have had 2 months with no migraines! I don't know anything about the drug you mentioned, but thought I'd mention what has so far worked pretty well for me. migraine free - I hope

I just started Nortriptyline for my premenstrual migraines about 6 mos ago. It has been working very well to decrease the intensity and frequency of my headaches. But, yes, I have had some side effects. One of them I love - I sleep much better! But it also makes me a little groggy sometimes in the morning, and I have had one episode of constipation, which is really unusual for me. I only take them the week before my period, or for a couple days before I know I will be up all night, since sleep deprivation is a trigger for my headaches. Overall, I think it has been a big help though, and plan to stay on it.

I have had friends try Topamax for migraine prophylaxis with good results too. My neurologist said that sometimes people feel a little less ''mentally clear'' when on Topamax, and I just couldn't risk that because my job requires all my mental clarity and then some! Good luck! I'm with ya

Frova worked well for me former sufferer--thank G for menopause!

Several years ago I was having frequent migraines (2-3 per week) as well as some other migraine-aura-like symptoms (I felt fuzzyheaded and out of it quite frequently), and a neurologist suggested Nortryptaline. It did not work well for me at all. Not only did the migraines and fuzzyheaded-ness not go away, but I was tired, dizzy, constipated, and gaining weight. Not a winning combination. I stuck with the Nortryptaline for 5 weeks and then tried Gabapentin (the generic for Neurontin), which didn't do much for the headaches but at least didn't have the bothersome side effects. Ultimately the headaches resolved on their own. It turned out that the underlying cause was stress, and what ultimately made the difference was leaving an unhappy relationship. Don't miss the headaches or the Nortryptaline

I have taken Nortryptalene for anxiety for about 10 years, and for me it's been a great option. I used to have regular headaches, though not at all debilitating, and I have a lot fewer now. I mostly like it as it's great for managing anxiety (my primary issue) and great for helping with sleeping. My doc has also mentioned it's reputation for helping with headaches, so I think it must be a common use. The only downside is that like a lot of antidepressents, it can make orgasms more challenging though not impossible. It's a drug that's been around a very long time, so doctors know a lot about it..I even stayed on a low dose during my pregnancy. Anyway, I'd say it's worth a try. Hope it helps. Jenn

Alternative migraine treatments

Sept 2007

I'm looking for recommendations for either chiropractors or acupuncturists who specialize in migraine treatment. I've used traditional treatments for 8 years now, and while they generally assuage the pain, I'd like to reduce the frequency of the migraines (something which traditional preventative treatments have been unsuccessful at doing). I've looked at the archives and only see two recommendations, one for a practitioner about whom I've heard very mixed reviews. Thanks in advance for your recommendations. Frequent migraine sufferer

I used to get regular migraines fifteen years ago. After a particularly stressful year marked by many migraines, I became interested in Buddhism. I sat a ten-day meditation retreat where I learned a technique called Vipassana -- a very simple method of observation of breath & bodily sensation. After this one course, my migraines didn't come back for over five years. (I did meditate from time to time, but I've never been good at being a regular meditator.) The migraines returned again after another particularly stressful time in my life, and I started meditating again -- again, the migraines disappeared. You can check out vipassana meditation at www.dhamma.org. There are a couple of places you can sit a course in California. wishing you a migraine free life!

Migraines, menopause, and motherhood

May 2007

I am a 46 year-old mother who is also on the verge of menopause (my mother and garandmother had theirs at 45). I've been experiencing an increase in monthly emotional moodswings, along with angry outbursts, anxiety, and uncontrollable crying. I've even experienced what I think are occasional hot flashes. I feel especially irritable and very depressed right before a migraine, and then when the migraine is over I'm happy again, and am able to be calm and level headed. I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde. The worse part of all of this is that I have a 6 year old daughter. I hate it when my emotions get out of control, especially infront of her. And during these mood swings, and especially when a migraine is coming on, I have no patience at all with my duaghter. She is incredibly strong willed and loves to challenge me. I sometimes honestly believe that she enjoys driving me crazy. Little things drive me crazy, like when she is jumping up and down like a jumping bean that just won't quite. Or when she keeps hanging on me, bumping up against me or just touching me. I feel like I'm being suffocated. I'm not like this all the time. It comes and goes. But when a migraine comes, that's the worse. I just want to die. Sometimes I feel like I should have never had a child because I can't handle it when I'm in pain. I have no family here or super close friends that I can count on when I get a migraine. And I can't keep asking my husband to come home from work early so he can take care of our duaghter. I feel terribly guilty for all the times I've yelled at my daughter. I even slapped her in the face a few times and I feel especially horrible about that. I just can't take the hormone fluctuations anymore. I honestly look forward to old age just so I don't have to deal with it.

How do you mothers who waited 'til late in life to have kids deal with the intense hormonal stuff and raising your children? How do you keep from damaging your child? And what about you migraine sufferers who have kids? What do you all do with your children when you are sick in terrible pain? How do you cope?

Also, is there a therapist or group that I can join that deals with mothers entering the menopausal years? And is there an alternative healer that can help me with all my mood disorders? Herbs, accupuncture, what ever. I am willing to try anything that is sensible and proven to work. Even a good book to read. I just need some relief, guidance, and a way to cope.

I could have written your post about 5 months ago (except I would have also moaned about the heavy horrible periods and I have 2 young kids who I wasn't being fair too). At 47, my periods stopped coming - I thought I was pregnant....but surprise...it was menopause with all the symptoms you too described. My doctor put me on the Vivelle Dot, it is an estrogen patch, and I am now a new person -- or back to my old before menopause person. Headaches, hormonal moodiness, irritation, depression, night sweats, hot flashes... all GONE!!! Try it! over it!

I've had migraines since my early 20s (when there were few effective medications available) and for years just suffered through them by zoning out at work and then going to bed when I got home. I have also suffered from depression which recently worsened as a result of some hormonal changes. So, between my chronic/serious pain and my irritability, I was losing it a lot at home. Having kids convinced me that I needed to finally do something to manage my migraines and to treat whatever biological abnormalities were contributing to my depression. I tried multiple migraine medications and THANK GOD I found one that works most of the time. My doctor prescribed 3 ''back-up'' narcotics for me (darvoset, vicodin, and codeine) for when the migraine meds don't work. Fortunately, I take these very infrequently (although the vicodin definitely takes the edge off - which I like!). I am also on an antidepressant. My pain and my moods still impact my life and my parenting, but to a pretty small degree. So the bottom line is: I think you should talk to your doctor and get some meds. Relief is possible! Good luck. anon

I'm 53 and still going through menopause, but not experiencing the extreme mood swings you are. I have, however, suffered from migraines for at least 25 years. I started taking beta blockers (inderal) a month ago and it is the only medication that has ever worked for my migraines. Inderal works unbelievably well and I've only had three mild headaches this month. By the way, I have a 12 year old son and a 6 year old great-niece. My best wishes to you. MLAMVL of N. Berkeley

I strongly urge you to go see your doctor and explain the situation . It's clear that this situation is having an impact on your health and happiness and also your family life. A good doctor could help you understand and review options. You could approach this as a migraine sufferer, or as a woman entering menopause. There are several medical options. Because of your migraines, you and your doctor will need to take into account the effect of hormones on your system. My mother's migraines got much worse when she went on HRT to control other symptoms. However, it's not one-size-fits-all. There are other options. When my migraines and anxiety started getting worse as I entered peri-menopause (I think real menopause is still 10 years away), my doctor helped me find a medication that helps to cut the severity of both. When it comes to dealing with your daughter, try to remember that you are being overwhelmed by your own hormonal system, and that is an added stress to parenting. You are not a bad mom because of that. But you do need to somehow take a step back from the edge when the fear, pain, and anxiety of a migraine comes on. Let your daughter know what is going on. be honest. She is only 6, but knowing that sometimes mom gets a headache so bad it makes her do things she wishes she didn't is very different from not knowing what causes mom to change so drastically. Fellow Migraine Suffering Mom

I, too an a single mother, and my menopause symptoms started around age 46. My daughter was 11 years old at the time, and dealing with her own hormonal issues! It can be overwhelming... the mood swings, the physical discomfort, and no relief- parent in sight. Fortunately we were both under the care of a homeopath during those years, and the remedies she prescribed were very, very helpful. The consultation process itself is theraputic, as homepaths are trained to be excellent listeners! There are many great homeopaths here in the Bay Area. You can visit the National Center for Homeopathy's website (http://nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/) where you'll find information about homeopathy, locating a practitioner, etc. anon

Post-partum migraines

March 2007

Does anyone know of a place/person that does biofeedback? I developed migraines after my son was born 2 years ago. Since I'd like to try for another child later in the year and my medication options will be limited, I'm looking into alternative therapies. I live in Alameda but any location in the Bay Area is fine. Anonymous

You might look into buying the StressEraser. It's an at-home biofeedback device. It's not cheap (approximately $299), but then, neither is biofeedback. What I liked about the StressEraser is that you can use it several times a day, every day. I personally found that going to a biofeedback practitioner once a week (at more than $100 a visit), really wasn't useful. We bought a StressEraser by mail. You can contact the company online at www.StressEraser.com, or google it to see if you can find some lower prices. The device does have a month's period to try it out after you've bought it; if it's not working for you, you can send it back. I have thin, cold fingers, and the device didn't work well for me because it couldn't ''read'' my finger. Others in my family loved it, and found it deeply relaxing. anon

This isn't really responsive to your request for someone who does bio-feedback, and I don't know how serious your migraines are, but I do know that I have had migraines since college (but only one every month or two) and had none at all during my pregnancy. I think that this decrease during pregnancy is fairly common; although it's probably not something to count on, it might be worth asking your M.D. about if you haven't already. Best of luck with your migraines and future pregnancy.

I have recently been going to see Dr, Goldstein at the Headache Clinic in SF for Migraines and I saw that there is someone in the clinic who does Biofeedback www.sfcrc.com They certainly know their stuff there. anon

Sometimes diet plays a role with migraines, and also fumes from different sources and mold. It might help to check these out to see if you can reduce migraines by reducing exposure to these things. Best of luck! anon

Struggling with migraines during pregnancy

Nov 2004

Can anybody recommend a good accupuncturist in either San Francisco or the East Bay? I'm 7 weeks pregnant and am struggling with a migraine that won't go away. Migraines aren't unusual for me as I've had them all my life. What is unusual is that I can't rely upon my regular medications due to pregnancy. As a result, I'm looking for an accupuncturist with experience in pregnancy, chronic pain, or ideally, both. Any help would be appreciated. On a related note - does anybody have a recommendation for an Ob- Gyn who specializes in pregnancy and chronic pain? Ideally, this person would be affiliated with California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco? Thanks. lj

I had the same problem pretty much throughout my whole pregnancy and started seeing Dennis Von Elgg (offices in Berkeley and Orinda) around my 3rd month. He literally saved my life! He is wonderful to work w/ and very interested and caring. My OB prescribed Vicodin since it's ''considered'' safe during pregnancy, but it just made my morning sickness even more violent and my head hurt even more. He was also able to help me w/my heartburn so I wasn't constantly popping Tums for the last 2 months. His phone numbers are 510/883-1340 and 925/253-0685. I'm not sure I would consider trying to have another baby w/out his support. I cannot recommend him highly enough. Feel free to email me if I can answer any questions or help. C. V.

I'm so sorry to hear you're suffering from migraines during your pregnancy. I don't have a recommendation for an acupuncturist, but I do have a recommendation for a book that has helped me tremendously. It's titled, ''Heal Your Headaches - The 1, 2, 3 Program,'' by David Buchholz. It's in paperback at Barnes and Noble. Good luck! anon

Acupuncture can be used during pregnancy for migraines, ''morning sickness,'' tendency to miscarry, etc. The acupuncturist should have experience with pregnancy as some points are forbidden with pregnancy. Dr. Jay Sordean has worked with many pregnant women to help with these conditions. His number is 510-849-1176 and you can call for an initial phone consultation. Nancy

i highly recommend Jenny Crissman--offices in E Bay AND SF....phone is 510-938 -2600...Jenny is excellent and has much experience with women's issues and with chronic pain..plus she's a fabulous human being AND incredible herbalist and nutritionist. o

Migraine Equivalence

Feb 2004

Has anyone on this network ever suffered from what is called ''migraine equivalence,'' which is migraine-related symptoms, such as extreme vertigo, light-sensitivity and nauseau, with no headache? I had never even heard of this condition until I had it for the first time last year. When I had it before it lasted for about a month, gradually lessening in intensity, and then mysteriously went away.

I just started suffering from this again recently and this past week has been awful. I have barely been able to get out of bed in the morning and the medicine my doctor prescribed for me is a combo of one motion sickness pill (mecclazine) and one valium, which is almost as bad as just being dizzy all the time. Does anyone know of natural remedies or any types of alternative treatments?

I am fairly desperate at this point, so I am open to suggestions. Thanks, Dizzy and Don't Like It

could it be meniere's or some other inner/middle ear problem? suzie

I too suffer from migraine equivalents. As a child, I had horrible ''classic'' migraines which lasted for days or weeks. In my twenties, they tapered off, and turned into more frequent, though less debilitating migraine equivalents. I occasionally get the vertigo. The episodes usually involve nausea, light, movement and sound sensitivity, are almost exclusively a morning thing, and can be quite miserable or barely noticable. They seem to happen for no particular reason, and I have periods where the episodes happen very little, or almost daily. I have never been sucessful with drugs which are supposed to prevent the attacks, but have had some relief from small amounts of drugs like fiornal,! which take the edge off. I think that migraine equivalents are a fairly uncommon version of migraines, and I have even been seen by neurologists who had never heard of it, and clearly thought that I was a nut. I was told by my current neurologist that some of them are ''headache guys'' and some aren't, so hopefully your neurologist is one of those. If not, I highly recommend my dr. in Berkeley, neurologist John Friedberg 644-2282. Feel free to contact me if you want further information. mac

I have always been quite light sensitive and used to have a recurring problem with vertigo- maybe the same thing that you're describing. It was really miserable. My doctor at the time told me that it wasn't uncommon, was mostly in women, and that the suspected cause was an otherwise benign virus. He prescribed Meclazine, no Valium. I found that if I took a whole 25mg. tablet of Meclazine it was as good as a sleeping pill, but that 1/4 to 1/2 tablet worked for the vertigo and I was still awake. I can't imagine what good Valium would do- it puts me to sleep anyway, and I don't think that the vertigo was from stress/anxiety. For whatever reason, the vertigo became less and less frequent, finally stopped. Then later I developed Migraines (luckily not frequent). I have wondered what the connection might be between the two- was the vertigo really a type of migraine? Meclizine is a safe medication and you might just want to try using less, and if you want to keep up the Valium try less of that also. anon

Hi, I've had both migraines & vertigo, but not at the same time. For me, migraines are brief but intense episodes that may or may not involve a headache, but for me always involve vision disturbances (bright zig-zaggy lines & blind spots) and sometimes some numbness on one side of my body, and sometimes difficulty finding the right words when speaking. Never, ever have these episodes lasted longer than a few hours. I had a case of vertigo once. I was dizzy and queasy and felt like I was about to topple over whenever I walked, though I never did actually fall. I never associated this with migraine. It lasted a few weeks. I tried the meclazine & didn't notice much improvement, so I just waited it out. My doc never suggested valium. I continued to go to work, but I suspended my habit of taking long hikes for a while!

SO, having stated my ''qualifications'' to give you advice, here it is: go to a neurologist. It sounds weird to me that your doc is describing what you're going through as migraine. I like Dr. Starkey in Oakland, near Pill Hill. He is down to earth and can explain to you in plain English what is going on. I will warn you that a migraine to a neurologist seems to be about as exciting as a common cold is to an internist. But at least you'll feel better with a little more knowledge. fellow migraineur (sounds glamourous, doesn't it??)

I know the feeling. I had it for a while when I was sixteen and then again in my mid-thirties. During my teenage years, a lack of calcium was diagnosed and as soon as I supplemented I was okay within 2 days. As an adult, when I woke up in the morning with the room moving around me infinitively and the darkness of closed eyes kept circling! (where is the off- switch???), I remembered the old diagnosis and found out that the calcium in Multi-Vitamins is not enough and may not be absorbed well in that combination. It requires an extra pill. Again it was the instant magic solution. But I also double- checked that my ears were fine (could be a cause of imbalance, so I cleaned them with ear-wax removal drops)and that I didn't have too much going on in my life that would lead to scattered thinking - that itself can make you dizzy, but not as deeply as you describe. I knew something was definitely out of order and I was relieved that it was a lack of calcium again. (The second time I did not even go to a doctor). Anonymous

Get to a chiropractor quick! I've seen tremendous success in reducing and/or eliminating the symptoms you describe using chiropractic care. Good Luck

Worried about working and chronic migraines

Dec 2003

Hi. I'm hoping someone on the network can help me. I've had migraines since I was a teenager and I'm now in my mid thirties. I'm seeing a neurologist and we're working on managing the migraines.

I'm going into my second semester of graduate school, and I'm on the fast track for graduation. In other words, I have enough experience to get my master's degree in my department in 3 semsters instead of 2-3 years.

I'm making it through school, but I'm getting nervous about the work world and my migraines. They aren't considered a ''disability '' under the Americans with disabilites act.

Is there anyone in the network that has chronic migraines and works? I'd like to know how to balance the two, especially when the migraines still seem so unmanageable to me. Beth

I started having migraines after my son was born, and have been working full time throughout. For years I had them and didn't know what they were -- thought I had horrible cases of food poisoning on a regular basis. Eventually I was correctly diagnosed, tried a number of different drugs which did not work, and finally landed on a ''cocktail'' that works for me: Zomig + Alleve. It doesn't always get rid of the migraine but if I take it early enough it will at least reduce its length and severity.

I have learned to travel with the medication, and since then I have rarely had to miss time from work. Been there too

Migraines and Pregnancy

Feb 2003

Does anyone have any suggestions for relieving migraines during pregnancy? Thanks Rochelle

Migraines can be very different for different for different people, so I would talk to a neurologist for the latest information on migraine treatments. Many people find that drinking a cup of feverfew tea once a day is helpful in reducing the frequency of migraines. It doesn't really treat an actual migraine attack, so having a discussion with the doctor really might help in that situation so you know what is safe during pregnancy. Feverfew is sold a dried herb (like mint or oregano) that you can find at health food stores and places like Food Mill in Oakland. Barbara

Ugh. I know how awful an untreated migraine can be. And how hard that is while you're pregnant. Try this: Wrap your head in ice. Use large, soft ice packs and wrap them around like a hatband, with ice covering especially the base of your neck, your temples, and your forehead. You can use a really huge ace bandage (a knee-sized one, for example) to secure the ice packs around your head. Then wrap your whole body in a large blanket that you've warmed in a dryer (beach towels in the microwave can also work). With your head iced and your body warm, wait at least 30-45 minutes. (Sounds like a recipe, doesn't it?) This works becasue during a migraine, the blood isn't flowing properly in your head -- I can never remember whether that's because the blood vessels are constricted or engorged -- and the cold head/warm body trick changes that. Usually, if I use this trick early enough in the headache and follow up with a one-hour nap, I can avoid the worst symptoms and lose less than two hours of my day instead of the whole day. Also, I took feverfew throughout my pregnancy (it helps to prevent migraines in some people). My OB wasn't thrilled about this, but she also said she didn't want me dealing with severe migraine headaches. Good luck to you. -- Headache-free (at last!)

Since you're pregnant, it would be best to check with your doctor as to safe ways to treat the pain. Prevention is important, although that can be hard with all the hormones flooding your body. I had some success with acupuncture. I also found that my migraines lasted only for a month during my pregnancy, and that they were gone for a full year and a half after my son was born. I hope you will have positive changes, too. Carolyn

I also suffer from migraines, and could not take my prescription meds during pregnancy. I found that a large cup of coffee and two tylenols, taken early on, did the trick. As long as that is the only caffeine you drink, it won't hurt the baby. Catherine

I went to acupuncturist Daniel Donner (on Piedmont Ave. near Babyworld) for my pregnancy migraines. He has a really odd bedside manner, but what he did worked. It was a combination of acupuncture, herbs, and homeopathy. Ilana

Try acetimenophen (tylenol). rest. water. good food (no chocolate, red wine, cheese). But check with your doctor, as headaches during pregnancy could be other things. It could also be a blood-clotting thing, which may be cleared up with baby aspirin, but it could be more serious. Try not to worry-My headaches were not serious, just inconvenient and annoying. jan

I got migraines during both pregnancies, and here are the things that helped most. Acupunture was extremely effective during my first pregnancy. I had one treatment and didn't get a migraine for more than 2 years. During my second pregnancy, multiple treatments didn't help. It turned out the culprit was chocolate, even though I had never had any food intolerances before. Before I figured out the food triggers, my midwife also suggested acupressure -- feeling around on my head for sore spots (they feel almost like a bruise) and pressing and releasing them several times. I didn't expect this to help much, but it was surprisingly effective. Good luck, and you have my sympathy. Jennifer

I had a few migraines during my 5th and 6th month of pregnancy. My OB referred me to a neurologist (Dr. Cromeyer at Richmond Kaiser) who gave me a prescription for tylenol with codiene. It was very effective and mild enough to take during pregnancy. He told me that it was common to get migraines during that time of pregnancy even though I had never suffered from them before. Sure enough, they went away by about the middle of my 6th month. I had them again with my second preganancy at the same time, and other than lying down in my dark bedroom and closing my eyes until they went away (not something I could do as often with a toddler around), I took the tylenol with codiene and had no side effects but a restful sleep! Let your OB know that you are having them and maybe she/he can help. Kerri

I had my first migraine about a year before I became pregnant with my second child, and then only a few times after that. What worked for me when I felt one coming on was Excedrin, and a nap. While pregnant Excedrin is not allowed though, because of the asprin. So what I did was concoct the closest thing I could, the few times I had migraines during the pregnancy, I took two Tylenol, two Advil, and swallowed it all down with a can of Coke... then took my nap. (I know it sounds horrible when we are all supposed to remain drug, caffine, alcohol, preservative, sugar, and dye free during pregnancy... but all of those things are on the OK list I got from the dr's office.) It worked for me. However, I am not a doctor or a pharmacist, so I can't tell you if it was good, bad, right, wrong, etc. You should probably ask a professional who you trust. Been there...

I just suffered thru my migraines until about 19 weeks. I know, it was terrible. Then, after 19 weeks they vanished! It was wonderful- I didn't have a migraine until a few weeks after my baby was born. Sorry I don't have better news, Tina