Friday, January 18, 2008
Women and migraines
Rev. Unnia Pettus

By Val Willingham
Medical Producer

The Rev. Unnia Pettus is a busy woman. As a domestic violence counselor, a college instructor and a practicing minister, the last thing Pettus needs is a migraine. Unfortunately, she suffers from them all the time, sometimes three or four times a week.

Physicians find migraines are three times more common in women then in men. Many women experience migraines after they start their menstrual cycles. As they age, the pain becomes more intense and more frequent. "Patients sort of run into a chronic daily headache, so that they are having headaches every single day," says Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a neurologist at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. "The daily headaches tends not to be as bad as the migraine headache, but they still have migraines on top of the daily headaches."

Pettus is 39 and her migraines have gotten worse. When she was younger, she had only one a month, but now it's more often. She recognizes triggers that set her migraines off - certain smells such as heavy perfume, food cooking and smoking. Even the weather can bring on a migraine. And that's not unusual. In their 30s and 40s, migraine symptoms in some women begin to change. They experience more nausea, vomiting and they're more sensitive to light. Also, as they age, medications for migraines don't work for very long. Pettus has tried them all. Dr. Schlosberg says, "It's not uncommon for people to take these medications more frequently, because they get less and less effective."

For many women relief comes in their 50s, after menopause, as their migraine symptoms go away. Doctors believe that estrogen levels play a huge role. For men, migraines don't go away as they get older. They tend to be more severe. Many males suffer from chronic cluster headaches as they age. These headaches occur in clusters that last a few months each. Then they go away and come back in the next year.

For Pettus, the idea of growing older brings one ray of hope. Her mother, as well as her aunts all suffered from migraines when they were younger. After menopause, all their headaches vanished. It's a small comfort for Pettus, who has a long way to go before she reaches her 50s.

Do you suffer from migraines? What do you do for relief? Let us know.

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I am 35 years old and have suffered with migraines for about fifteen years. The migraines have evolved over that time, with periods of more frequency and severity. After visiting several doctors, and neurologist - a neurologist who specializes in headaches has helped me immensely. It has been a lot of trial and error with daily preventatives and abortive drugs. Although I am now applying for "self" health insurance because of a job change and discovered I can be denied because of my migraines. I do not know what I will do if that happens.
I'm a male that suffered from daily headaches and weekly full blown migraines for years. Finally, after trying "everything", I decided to get a sleep test. I found out I have sleep apnea. After treatment, I no longer have headaches, none. The strange thing is I never felt tired or remotely sleepy while I was suffering from headaches.
This article seems to imply that cluster headaches are migraines that come in clusters. Cluster headaches and migraines are different diseases. Cluster headaches are much more painful than mighraines, but do not last as long, and they are thought to have a different cause.

Chronic cluster headaches do not come in "clusters that last a few months each" then go away and come back. Chronic cluster headaches do not go away, but may continue for years. Cluster headaches that come and go for periods of weeks or months are termed "episodic" cluster headaches and are the more common form.
I am a 21 year old student and have suffered from migraines since early high school. I generally get them once or twice a week, and have a group of them hit me all at once every now and then; this article doesnt provide much hope, considering it says it gets worse with age, which it has but I assumed it would eventually level out, and I am far far from menopause. I have found some success with accupuncture, if done once a week continually, but this has not always been a fesable option at times with my schedule and income. Hot baths or heat compress provides some comfort but only a combo or migraine medicine and some strong pain killers can rid me of one. Sometimes sleep can help, but I find if very difficult to fall alseep unless I've taken something. Does anyone know if you can build up tolerance on migraine medicine (maxalt, relpax, etc.)?
I'm 38yr old female and suffer from migraines. About 9 months ago I was diagnosed with TMJ, which I learned is a contributing factor to my headaches. The splint that I was fitted for gives me some relief. However,if I'm stressed, I'm going get a migraine.
I had my first migraine at 32 years of age. A somewhat late starter apparently. At about that time I also developed PMS. I am convinced the two are linked in some way.
My neurologist identified that my migraines were stress related because they seem to come in clusters of 3 or 4 over a week and then go away for a few months.
I have been using a natural progesterone cream and it has got rid of the PMS and seems to be reducing the frequency of the migraines. I feel I am on the road to recovery at long last.
My GP differs in opinion. He thinks that if it isn't a prescription medication then it cannot work and that any improvements are down to a placebo effect and that it will all revert sooner rather than later.
I have been doing two things to get rid of my migraines: Taking Lybrel, which regulates my hormones, and exercising regularly. When I fall off the workout wagon, I fall prey to migraines. I also started cutting out a lot of processed foods in my diet, although I have to say I cheat a lot because it's so hard to eat fresh all the time on the go. FITNESS magazine actually has some great workout and eating tips (even store foods that are great for dieters) in their FEBRUARY issue.
I suffer from migraines every couple of months or so, and have for about 17 years (I'm 32). I don't like taking medicine, so I would go straight to bed with the room as dark as can be and "wait" it out. I always throw-up repeatedly and feel woozy even the next day. Changing my diet didn't work, going on the Pill to regulate my hormones didn't work either. What finally helped me was dealing with my stress better. If something happened and upset me, my blood pressure would go up and after the stressor was gone that's when the migraine would hit. My brother who is 35 is the same way. It's stress that triggers our migraines. He is now on a blood pressure medicine (we both have low blood pressure regularly) and hasn't had a migraine. Simply dealing with stress in a positive way instead of suppressing it and holding it in is what has helped me. I do still get migraines, but it's nothing like 1-2 times a week that I used to have. It's more like 1 every couple of months really. During the height of my migraines coming a couple of times a week, I was dealing with my Mom sick with breast cancer, so stress is definitely the trigger for me. There are so many possible triggers, it's frightening how little we really know how to deal with this.
I have suffered from migraines almost all my life. I had bad headaches when I was little, but didn't know until college they were migraines. Most of my migraines are menstrual migraines. I finally (after several years) found a doctor that would be willing to put me on the birth control pill to see if it would help. Now I take the bc pill everyday for several months with no breaks and have no migraines! I might get an occassional one from stress or lack of sleep, but one every couple of months is much better than 5-6 a month.
I suffered from migraines during my ovulation period for many years and used different medications to control or prevent the pain, but as the article mentions they have no effect.

I never drank wine unless it was social and usually I chose to drink white or rose wine. Until a friend introduce me and I learn to drink red wine of good quality. Surprisingly, at the time that I drank the wine it was a week that I was ovulating and was fearful that the wine would cause a migrain or aggravate it, this was not the case at all. That month I had about 6 - 7 glasses of red wine and never got a headache or migraine.

I've practice this ever since, at least twice a week and now it's been over 6 months that I do not get a headache or migraine. Is this a coincidence?

Good Morning, Val Willingham

Very thoughtful and I should say necessary article. When I'm reading this it touches my heart and it brought tears to my eyes. Because my dad had suffered from the disease called cluster headache for three months of last spring. It was a painful experience to my dad and my family. Perhaps the shocking event will linger long in my memory.

Interestingly, migraines affect more women than men, and cluster headaches affect more men than women. Cluster headaches involve severe pain behind one eye, often at night during sleep. My dad went to the emergency room midnight and then received oxygen inhalation. I still gloom just thinking about it. Cluster headache is terrible disease. Absolutely.

Fortunately I've never experienced migraines. However one of my friends is suffering from it. She never eats chocolate, cheese, peanuts and foods contain caffeine because they are not good for migraines. Instead when she has migraines she stresses around her forehead and the temple with ice pack. Val Willingham! Thank you so much for your providing of precious information which is for women. Take care.
I am a 36 year old female and suffered from migraines from roughly age 12 until age 29 when I had a child. Migraines run on my mom's side of the family. I took Cafergot and Midrin (worked best for me) over those years. After my daughter was born, the headaches slowly went away. I believe what contributed to it was a more regulated sleeping and eating pattern, brought on by raising a child. I was getting up at nearly the same time every day after she was born, eating at nearly the same time too because she was, and not sleeping/eating differently on weekends vs. workdays. I haven't taken a Midrin since then. I still have headaches today, but rarely is it ever a migraine. My headaches today are usually "normal" or non-migraine headaches with moderate pain. My experience may not work for everyone, but it worked for me. It is also possible that hormonal changes brought on by the pregnancy/birth contributed to my healing, or perhaps my aging and natural hormonal changes that were probably occuring around that age. I doubt that it could ever be pinpointed with certainty.
My first memories of migraines is in elementary school. There is little doubt in my mind that the lunchroom cafetereia triggered the headaches along with the heat in the classroom. At home, my Mother smoked, which is apparent now ,exacerated the heacaches. I went to various doctors(optomologist,etc.) and was never helped.
The headaches lessened significantly in highschool when I was allowed to bring my own luch and go to the courtyardat lunch break, instead of the cafeteria.
I am in my forties now, and do not have nearly as many migraines as when I was younger . I can say the precautions I learned to take is what has helped the most--- Absolutely, no loud cafeterias---sunlught daily and a "quiet" break; Also, my friends know that I cannot tolerate any fragrance-- Perfumes definitleyeset me up for a possible episode.
I am a 43 year old caucasian woman with migraines. Mine began after the birth of my second child. I have tried traditional and non traditional therapies. So far the one that seems to work the best is taking Tofranil every night. Thank you Dr. Richard Bernstein in Atlanta. I haven't felt this good in years!
Thank you for posting on this important topic. Like Pettus, I have found my migraines increasing exponentially towards the end of my 30's and into my 40's. In fact, they started to really become intense after the birth of my second child when I was 32. As a doctor and a mom, having so many headaches made getting through life a huge challenge.

Last year, I finally saw a neurologist who helped considerably. For the medications to work, however, you have to give it time - and be willing to speak up when side effects creep in. The medications available are potent and there is not a single dose,drug or combination that works for everyone. Finding a doctor who takes the time to get to know you, what your headaches are like and your triggers is 3/4 the battle.

One final word, if you are a headache sufferer of any kind, find ways to relax - yoga, mediation. We are all too busy and learning to decompress really helps.

Thanks again for brining up such an important issue. The more we share our experiences, the more others can find ways to get help sooner.

Dr. G
I have had migraines since my early 20's that occurred twice a month-related to normal monthly hormonal flucuations. At the first sign of a migraine-sensitivity to light/sound/beginning of the headache I took enteric coated aspirin as directed on the bottle. In about forty minutes most of the pain was gone, although not all. Although I also dealt with nausea and vomiting, sometimes even after the pain left I still had the nausea. I found that lack of sleep, eye strain from computer work, long driving trips, and stress triggered the migraines. I am not much of a drinker of alcohol, but have read many places that alcohol can trigger migraines. As I have gotten older, and am going through perimenopause, the migraines have lessened significantly. I might have a monthly semi-hemispheric headache that is very mild and goes away with the aspirin.
I am amoung the group of people that have given up on finding relief. Triptans do not work for everone, and I have tried enough medications that have not made a dent, or else have too many side effects. I also have a hard time with auras, and have yet found a medicine that addressed these symptoms. I am grateful that understanding of migraines has progressed past the point of when adults suggested to me that the pain and auras where "in my head" (no pun intended, that I was exaggerating symptoms or just unable to cope with the ordinary daily stresses of life.
I've had migraines for a few years now. Going to the neurologist only made it worse for me, because he put me on medications that would lessen the intensity of the migraines, but the side effects would be horrible.

One of my main triggers is strong perfume. Surprisingly, I've found that Tylenol Rapid Relief--as well as the generic store brands--has been the only thing to help me, as long as I take it at the onset, or when I'm around a trigger.
I had my first migraine at about 40 years old. I thought something in my head was about to burst and went to the ER. I had from 1 to 3 a week at times. Discovered IMITREX, which changed my life, it it so effective. In my 50's migraines lessened in frequency and and severity - now completely gone. Take heart women, they do go away. If you haven't tried IMITREX, you should.
I am a 31-year-old woman who has suffered from migraines for the last 10 years. Sometimes I have just one in a month; other times, I'll have 4 in a week. I have identified a few triggers - a lack of caffeine, red wine, and stress to name a few. But even when I eliminate all of my triggers, I still suffer from migraines.

I have taken OTC and prescription medications to both treat and prevent migraines. Nothing seems to help. This year, I decided to start acupuncture in the hopes that this ancient healing technique will bring me some relief. It's too soon to tell yet, but I have heard many stories about others who tried this as a last resort, and never had another migraine again.
I am a 21 year old female who suffers from severe headaches daily and at least 2-3 migraines on top of that weekly. It has gotten to the point where I can predict the time of day I will get a headache and it is getting harder and harder to find a medicine that will reduce the pain. Currently I am taking Midrin for when I get migraines and Excedrin Migraine for when I get severe headaches. I have been to my doctor multiple times to have these symptoms checked out, but nothing ever turns up. I am, however, considering going to see a neurologist to see if they can determine the source of my migraines. One thing I can say, however, is that the use of pill form birth control, which has estrogen in it, reduced the severity of headaches a great deal.
My migraines used to be associated with PMS, but as the article indicates they've become more frequent after 40. At onset I take 1 Imatrex combined with 1 Alieve. It takes about 20 minutes for the pain to fade with around a 90% success rate. I've escalated from 1-2 migraines a month to 4-6 and I can not WAIT for menopause.
I am a woman in her 50's and well past keeping a bun in the oven. I have been plagued with migraine headaches all my life. I have tried everything. I have gone to headache clinic, tried more medications than I can remember and nothing works. I am sensitive to light, sound and movement and nausea.
I have little faith (or choice) in the doctors I see. They treat me like a joke. I no longer see them because they will not help or even worse, assume it is a "female" problem. At the worst, it feels like someone planted an ax in head. Even blinking an eyelash made the the pain worse 10 fold. It it just so very bad, so very, very bad I just want to crawl under a rock somewhere or have someone put me out my misery.
I have suffered from migraines for 20 plus years. I am 42 years old and in the past year have had about 70% less headaches due to accupuncture! I feel so much better and when I do get a headache they are not as severe! I only wish I hadn't wasted 20 years suffering.
I was suffering from headaches daily and had migraines at least once a week. I finally tried a medication called Topamax for the migraines and it really has worked. My daily headaches did not go away though so I decided to try and see a chiropractor. I have never felt comfortable visiting a chiropractor, but I finally felt so desperate I was willing to try anything. It has helped me so much. I was surprised with the regular neck adjustments and stretches how much better I feel.
I am a 45 year old female that has suffered from migraines since I was about 16. I had a total surgical menopause around 40. I still have the migraines between 5-10 times per month. I have visited the Thomas Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia, PA and have a Dr. there that is super. He has helped me a lot. Right now I am having the botox injections and they seem to be working. I also have abortive medicine I take, which is a triple combination of Axert, Anaprox and compazine. This combination truly helps me. The headache center is worth the trip for me and I live a long ways away.
I too began suffering from migraines in my early 20s and have continued to today (I am in my early 40s). They were getting more frequent and more severe several years ago until two diagnosis in the past year changed the trend. I discovered a B-12 deficiency coupled with allergies. I take shots for the first and medication for the second. As a result, they are less frequent and not quite as a severe, allowing Rx medication to work. I still get them, but they are a bit more manageable.
My sister and I both suffer from migraines. My mother had them and it seems we have inherited them. I know when mine are coming on as I see stars or black spots that inhibit my vision. I take Excedrin Migraine as soon as I see them if I can and usually I can stop them from coming on full-blown. I think I have isolated my triggers to stress and hormones. I am fortunate because I only get them a few times a year. My sister takes prescription medication as hers are more frequent. Migraines are very dibiltating and they take up to three days to recover from after I have a full-blown one.
I started having migraines in my forties. First comes the "flashing lights" aura and the headache follows
within half an hour. About three years ago I was diagnosed with a rapid heartbeat and was prescribed atenolol. I noticed that my headaches stopped almost completely. Months later I looked up atenolol on the web and found others who were on the medication and some of them claimed it had not only regulated their heartbeat but that they no longer had migraines. I had not connected the absence of headaches with starting the medication and had just been grateful to be rid of them. I have had only two or three migraines since. I think doctors should follow this up to see if it a solution for others.
I sufer from migraines, but the headache is the easy part of it. A few advils obliterate the pain but it takes a few hours to ease the nausea. when I have a migraine, including headache and visual 'aura' I find that I crave salt. I have found that eating salty foods and specificaly (don't laugh) tomato sauce, eases the nausea. Whenever I feel the migraine coming on I immediately take two advils and eat a can of Hunts tomato sauce that I keep stocked in my house. It seems to help me feel less nauseaus. Does any one else with migraines crave salt?
I have suffered from migraines for as long as I can remember. Mine were so bad I didn't only feel nauseous, I actually threw up from the pain. At times I had to go to my doctor's office or hospital the pain was so intense. During an annual eye exam several years ago my doc asked if I suffered from migraines when looking inside my eyes. He suggested keeping my blood sugar at a more constant level - eat regularly, not too much sugar/starch to avoid spikes and dips, to be especially vigilant just before menstruating because of the change in hormone levels and their affect on blood sugar level. He also said if I felt a migraine coming to take regular asprin and to relax in a cool dark room, which would help the blood vessels constrict on their own without having to take a vasoconstrictor. Sometimes having a few ounces of a soda helps in addition to the asprin because of the caffine. Thankfully, I have not had a dibilitating migraine in several years now!
I've been getting pretty bad migraines since I was 25. I remember that first time we had to pull over so I could throw up.

In 1987, I began noticing the auras, a light flashing across my field of vision in a jagged line for about a half-an-hour, and then the headache would come. I'd have to leave work, and if that aura started while I was driving, I'd better pull over quick, as my vision was screwed while it was going on.

I tried all kinds of medications, including caffergot (put under my tongue, made from caffeine).

Well, I've been taking Toradol for years now. You have to be careful how much you take, bad on the kidneys, but this has been a miracle drug for me. Now, they still come, but I really believe that the length and strength are lessened by many times over. When I was still working for the state, back in the late 90's, I was even able to go BACK TO WORK, after going home with a migraine in the morning. It works that well.

What I get now is called Ketorolac 10mg (1 every 8 hours as needed for severe headache) I'm told it's the same thing, just not name brand or visa versa.

I hope this helps someone.

I also take a blocker, and it works most months, but as I read the article, it sounded just like me. Right AFTER my periods started, which until just now, I thought was backwards. I thought everyone got PMS. I had during (DMS.) And now, when there's high pressure, so definately they're weather related, the other biggy is that I've noticed that I'll get a migraine and a few days later I'll come down with something, like a cold or the flu. Isn't that something, my system is that sensitive that I get a migraine DAYS before I even know I'm coming down with anything.

Now, I still get these darn headaches, and have had a REAL BAD MONTH. Haven't gone out but once or twice since Christmas. But, I have been able to function pretty well in the house, out of the bright lights of the sun, with the ketorolac.

Hope this helps someone.

I know a person staying in Bangalore, India who hss simple treatment with only herbs for completely curing/healing migraine of any type, longevity, history and severity.

Warm Regards,
Roopak, Bangalore
I have suffered from migraines since about the age of 10--now age 56. also had bouts of cluster headaches in my 20s and 30s even though i am female. as i age, the triggers have changed, mostly the weather now or bright sunlight. sometimes going too long without eating might bring one on. i have taken imitrex injections with great results and also maxalt tabs. i find that eliminating stress also helps. i also took several courses of prednisone for the cluster headaches and that seemed to stop the cycle. i also feel that the tendency for migraines is inherited--both parents suffered with them for years.
I am a 46 year old female who suffers from migraines. At least half of the women in my family suffer from these headaches. Mine started around age 12 and usually show up around my period. Before being introduced to Imitrex in the hospital, I would suffer an average 2-3 days of pain and vomiting due to migraines. Because of high blood pressure I try to limit the use of Imitrex for each headache and will take Darvocet if the pain persists. I have often wondered if there is any link between heart disease and migraines.
Thanks for the article. We love Dr. Gupta!
I am 52, have had migraines since 22. Tried everything, my chiropractic helped the most. If I experience an aura I immediately pop to migrazine and go in a closet, sometimes for hours. Can't hold a job due to this. Also, those new running lights on some new model cars that seem to have a blueish spectrum of some sort triggers a migraine for me. As I get older, my symptoms worsen and last longer, not the opposite as the article implys.
I am a 52-year-old female who has suffered from migraines since I was 25. After menopause, they did disappear for 2 years, but have slowly returned: I now usually have 2 per month. They are not usually as painful now, but the nausea is much worse. I also have multiple headaches every day.

For migraine pain, I use Zomig, codeine, muscle relaxants, muscle ointments and heat on my neck and back, ice on my head -- anything that might help. I also avoid driving if at all possible, as I discovered years ago that driving intensified my symptoms enormously.

BTW, I tried to choose 'Other' but it wasn't available. I'm from Seattle, WA, currently resident in Kuwait.
I'm a 33-year old female who has had chronic daily headaches and migraines since March of 1994 (I have a headache 24-hours a day, it just varies in intensity). I have seen more neurologists than I can count, from local headache specialists to the Mayo Clinic, as well as many other specialists ranging from Physical Therapists to Neuropsychologists, with treatments including close to 100 different medications, accupuncture, botox, and anything else that's been mentioned about headaches over the years. Unfortunately, nothing has really worked.

This story was interesting to me though, because I had not been sensitive to light until the past few years, and have had more issues with even my painkiller medications not making much of an impact, so it's almost "nice" to see that this is not completely abnormal as I move into my mid-30's.

Now the concussion that I got last year is not helping things at all, but most of the headaches issues had been worsening and changing well before the added effect of the concussion. I guess I will happily look forward to menopause!
I had my first migraine when I was 33. It came on during a typhoon (I was living in the Pacific at the time). I did not have a single headache during my pregnancy, which leads me to believe the hormonal link. But at 51, I have few menopausal symptoms, so I guess I have a few more years of migraines left.

I now have migraines at least once a week, sometimes more. I manage them with a combination of prescriptions and diet: I cut out garlic and chocolate, which were triggers, but I also have cut down my carb intake to about 1 serving per day. I consume protein -- eggs, meat, cheese, yogurt -- regularly during the day. My mother was hypoglycemic. Does anyone know of a connection between low blood sugar and migraine?
I used to take relpax when I was averaging 3-4 headaches a month and it worked fine. As they progressed to more often 10-12 per month i moved on to a daily medication. Now I take topomax and it works great for me. I am monitored by a neurologist and other issues were rules out. prior to taking this I was misrerable. Once you find the medication that works for you it is amazing the releif that you will find. I had not reliazed just how miserable I was and howmiseable I was making ewveryone else!
I was 17 when my migraines began. They continued to worsen, and in my mid 20's, it was common for me to be in the emergency room 3-4 times per month. These visits were just the worst of migraines, often lasting for 2-3 days. It was embarassing to continually go to the ER for pain medications. However, when I was 32, I had back surgery to relieve a herniated disc. After this surgery, a discectomy, my migraines went away. Now I have another herniated disc, and the migraines have started back. I am 36 years old now, and am facing another back surgery. Hopefully, this surgery will alleviate the new onset of migraines.
I know this isn't an article on cluster headaches but the descriptive of chronic cluster headaches seems a little weak - I usually get 3-5 per day almost everyday. There seems to be no regular season for me and I've had them for the past 7 years since I turned 26.
In the first years I've had menstrual cycles I had strong cramps and headaches almost every time in the cycle days, especially on the first, so that I was really afraid having it. Years later I started to take contraceptive and everything was over. I have never seen a doctor to have the pains checked, that is my own experience (about 13 years). This year I changed my contraceptive and I still don't have those problems. That's why I am sure there is a connection between pains and estrogen. I am really sorry for people having migrene from this or another reasons, it can be horrible.
I am a dentist focused on treating patients with TMJ disorders, head, neck and facial pain. Many patients who suffer from migraines also have a jaw joint disorder which contributes to varying degrees to their head pain. I have been able to help many patients with their headaches with conservative treatment for TMJ disorders. Any headache sufferer may want to have TMJ dysfunction ruled out as part of therapy.
I have been getting migranes since I was about 4 years old, atleast that's the first I can remember, and still get them at age 21. As a child, I tried to ignore the pain hoping it would go away, but it never did, which left me extremely nauseous and light sensitive and basically unfunctioning altogether. When I was about 15 they intensified greatly, they started lasting anywhere from 4 days to 2 1/2 weeks on end. My doctor at the time told me that there is a feeling of migrane before it actually starts, kind of a warning, and that I should take medicine as soon as I felt that, and if I kept taking it every 4-6 hours for the duration, I was atleast able to function quite normally (I took two advil, and three extra strength tylenol, and 1-2 imitrex every 6 hours for up to 2 weeks). However, this still is kind of out of control. I don't get them as often anymore, maybe one every 4 months or so, and they're not as bad anymore (used to be one every month or two). I still hate taking so much ibuprofen, especially knowing its harmful effects, and I've yet to find an effective alternative fix. No doctor I go to seems to be concerned enough to help either, quite unfortunately. One doctor even refused to prescribe the recommended dosage of imitrex that my previous doctor had, which left me in horrible pain.
I don't ascribe to the menstrual cause of migranes. I am in my early 30's with recurring, infrequent migranes with aura. I started suffering 3 years BEFORE I ever had a period. My sister also has migranes but with specific triggers I don't have. I can't get relief the way she does because I am allergic to the class of medicines. I am at a loss.
I am 26 years old and have suffered from migraines since I was in Junior High. At that time, I played volleyball and would come home every single day with a migraine. I lost a lot of weight because I couldn't keep anything down. It finally got to the point where I had to quit the sport. I still have not pinpointed exactly what triggers my migraines. Sometimes it is an activity, sometimes I believe it is a certain light source (strobe lights, flashing lights, etc.) I am constantly learning, as if I am putting together a puzzle. No matter what the trigger, the symptoms leading up to the full-blown migraine are always exactly the same. I know that if I see the flashing/jagged lines in my left eye that this will soon take out my vision entirely. I also feel tingling in my left arm. 30 minutes later, the migraine is full-blown and I am throwing up for hours. For those of you who do get sick when you have a migraine, you know the excrutiating pain! My husband doesn't quite understand. Once when we were out, and I saw the "spots" in my left eye, I told him we needed to go home immediately. He didn't understand how I "thought" I was getting a migraine if I didn't even have a headache. My migraines affect me for a week or more after they are over. I often feel constant dizziness afterwards. I had this checked out, but the doctor was not at all helpful. She said, "people get dizzy sometimes." I haven't found anything that really helps. However, I've learned a lot from the comments people have posted here. I thank you!
From age 12 to 46 I had migraines about 2 times per month. During that time I went to specialist after specialist, including a "headache" doctor in Baltimore, MD. Then about 8 years ago, I had a migraine that lasted pretty much for 1 year until I tried accupuncture and flexology. My chiropractor suggested using a tanning machine, starting at 1 minute and working my way up to 12 minutes; this took about 4 weeks. He said that he had several other patients who complained about migraines and after they tried tanning, their migraines susided. In the last 8 years, I think I have had maybe 5 "normal" headaches and not had a migraine. I have been under a lot of stress during the last 8 years and not once did I have a migraine. Try it, you might be surprised.
I use ice packs to relieve the throbbing. Sometimes topical creams like Icy Hot or Bengay help too. Imitrex helps, but its expensive, so anything that has aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine help. Laying the affected side on a heating pad sometimes helps in combination with a cold pack.
I had vicious migraines starting in my 40s. Excedrin helped if I caught them early, and Zomig was a miracle for the migraines when they hit. Then last year, after 10 years of suffering, my doctor put me on blood pressure medicine, Inderal. Not one migraine since then. Hallelujah!!
I am a 20 year old female student, and have been suffering from migraines for about 5 years. They have gotten worse with age, and worse when I started on birth control, then leveled out, I suppose because of a more regular flow of hormones. Stress and lack of sleep set off my migraines, as does certain smells. I have been taking one Advil every morning to head off any impending headaches, and when a migraine does attack, I take Excedrin Migraine and a short nap. 90% of the time when I wake up, the migraine has greatly subsided.
I am 33 have horrid migraines. I am sensitive to everything, have aura, and occasionally experience things like impaired consciousness and motor function.

Unfortunately, the menses connection doesn't really give me much hope because I've had them my whole life. Plus, when I was younger, my GP put me on BC - which helped my cycle but did naught about the headaches. I do think it's good news for those with that connection, with the chance of them going away to look forward to. Like the article, I have found that my headaches have changed in quality and frequency as I've gotten older - more trips to the ER... more often with shots.

While my headaches put me in a place interesting to study, I'm not a good candidate for most of them. The cold seems to cause me more pain. My only food trigger is sugar substitute, however, I am allergic to more than one family of drugs often given to migraine sufferers.

I have found caffine, hot/warm beverages, hot/warm washcloth on the face/forehead to be helpful to me. My best friend makes Chai Tea for me, which makes me feel better though I don't know why. Other than trying a Midrin or Tylenol Rapid Release, I just kind try to ride them out the best I can.
I have suffered with migraines for 14 years, as they started in high school and plague me at the first inkling of a stressful situation. For a while, my doctors were treating me with anti-anxiety meds, which helped to delay them most of the time, but did nothing once I had one. Now, not only do I have a fast-acting migraine medication, I am also on a type of blood pressure medication that also works as a preventative for migraines. With the combination of these 3 treatments, I rarely ever have a problem, and when I do, it is quickly remedied.
I suffer from an "Intractable Migraine Varient". Apparently this is the most difficult form of migraine to treat successfully as well as one not well understood by many neurologists. After unsuccessfully trying every medication known to man, I decided to try acupuncture. I went to a reputable acpuncturist affilliated with one of our local hospitals. After 3 weeks I was able to drastically reduce the amount of medication needed to keep my migraines under control.

I would stronly urge anyone with a chronic pain condition to try this therapy. While it may not work for everyone (run, don't walk, from any acupunturist who says differenly) it has been a godsend for me.

I have continued the receive acupuncture about every 6 weeks since for the last 2 years and have noticed a vast improvement in the severity of my migraines.
Several of the people is this article mention high blood pressure as a possible cause. It might be worth while to substitute Potassium Chloride (No-Salt) for regular salt (Sodium Chloride) in their diet. Most people have an imbalance in their diet between their sodium intake versus their potassium intake.

See this site for information about dietary guidelines about Potassium and Sodium:
I am 27 and found out after having migraines since around 9 years old that I am iron-deficient anemic. I started taking a liquid iron supplement and guess what? No more migraines. I have been pain-free for almost a year. My suggestion? Get a blood test, not just a prescription. When you have a headache, migraine or not, your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Drugs, while helpful, only treat the symptom.
I want to share with you my story and a wonderful product that has helped me a lot; to the point that I have not had a recurrence since then (almost 1 year).

Let me tell a little bit about me, I never suffered from migraines; it was after I had a hysterectomy done and my hormones got out of control (4 1/2 years ago).
I tried everything, had all kind of tests and medical exams done until one day a friend of my husband show us a product that is call Tahitian Noni.
I started drinking the juice in large quantities, until a month after taking the juice I started feeling different. Not only my headaches were getting better, but I had more energy and was sleeping like a baby. Also, my hot flashes from being menopausal already were getting better as well.

I was 40 years old when they removed my organs from having really large cysts in my uterus and ovaries. I am 45 years old now and I am a new person.

I have done a lot of research about the Noni fruit. One because of my health, and second because after getting such good results I have recommended to a lot of my friends and I don’t want to be saying something that just because it helped me I think that it will help everyone.

There are lots of different Noni Juices out there. But not all of them are the same. After doing my research I found that Tahitian Noni International was the pioneer on the research of the Noni fruit and the first company to create a product that is endorsed by so many doctors.

I have several friends that have been drinking the Tahitian Noni Juice as well and their health have improved a lot. No wonder the name of NONI means Fruit from God in the Tahitian language.

You can take a look at some of the research the company has posted online:

God bless you and have a wonderful day!
Nothing completely relieves it, but I do get some comfort from the pain from rubbing a small amount of icy-hot on my temples & on the back of my neck.
Has anyone tried magnesium tablets?
My migraines started when I was 19, got worse after a hysterectomy at age 31, and became debilitating when I developed hypothyroidism. Over the years I have found the combination of a tricyclic antidepressant, a beta blocker, and occasional use of a triptin completely control the headaches.

Some of the things I tried which helped at times included soaking my feet in hot water, resting my head on a neck support pillow, eating almonds every day (strange but true), and taking feverfew. Feverfew is an herb and it interacts with the triptins rendering them inactive.

My heart breaks for some of the people who have made postings. If you run out of options, there is a headache and pain clinic in Ann Arbor, MI that may be worth checking out. I interviewed for a job there many years ago and I was very inpressed with their approach to treating patients who have headaches and chronic pain.
I am 34 and have had migraines since about 2005 (it was stressful). I find that they come when the weather changes along with hormonal fluctuations. I also get them when under stress. I took relpax and it just made me sick AND have a headache. Excedrin migraine right away works for me and is MUCH cheaper. I also keep an instant ice pack (the kind in first aid kits) in my desk drawer at work. Also, cutting preservatives and eating wholesome foods helps too. I also get a different kind of aura where my right wrist hurts. LOL when this all started I thought I had allergies and carpal tunnel! Later on, I found out my mom has the same aura I do.
I am 44 and began having severe, chronic migraines at 32, after treatment for endometriosis with Lupron Depot which temporarily stopped my estrogen production. I saw GPs, gynecologists, neurologists, and headache specialists, and took numerous meds to try to get some relief from the pain and to regain my normal life. Some of the meds worked for a time, then became less and less effective. What finally worked is a combination of acupuncture, Chinese hormone-balancing herbs, and a vegetarian diet. I do eat eggs and dairy, but no meat of any kind. In the last 6 months I've only had 2 migraines, as opposed to 3-4/week for the last 12 years.
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