Who knows about headaches?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by tiredmommy, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Duckie seems to be developing sinus/migraine headaches. :( The first really bad one was in May: storms were moving through, she was in a bustling and brightly lit mall and it came on quickly. She actually vomitted once she got home. She's had a few smaller ones since then and then a terrible one again today (there's bad storms moving through again).

    The pain came on over a half hour and became pretty bad. It hurt across the top of her head and down into her jaw and eustacian tubes/ears. husband gave her motrin (what we had on hand) and it didn't help. I came home to find her lying on the floor in the bathroom in case she got sick. I got her an ice pack for the back of her neck and had her lie down in my (darkened) bedroom with the ac kicked up so it was cool too. She slept for 3 hours and is feeling a lot better but still not 100%.

    Should I call our family physician to make an appointment at this point?
  2. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    am a frequent sufferer of debilitating migraine headaches. Those of you out there who understand what I mean when I say "debilitating migraine" will most likely also understand what I am saying when I report that I, with a lot of help from my husband, go to great lengths to track circumstances around the occurrences of my migraine headaches. I look for anything that stands out about the time before and during the migraine, anything that might stick out as a pattern leading up to the attack, anything that might be seen as a trigger to the migraine, anything at all that I might use to predict, or better yet, avoid a migraine. One of the most substantial triggers for my migraines, as evidenced by our data, appears to be any occasion of a significant increase or decrease in barometric pressure. Having grown up in barometrically stable Southern California, monitoring the level of barometric pressure in the atmosphere was not something I had ever given any thought to. When my husband began to notice the pattern of changing pressure systems preceding my migraine headaches I was confounded. I had never heard of such a thing. And so began my research into the effects of barometric pressure on migraine headaches.

    If you think about it, people have been associating their physical and medical conditions with the weather forever. How often have you heard someone predict rain on the way because of a flare up in their arthritis or sciatica? As it turns out, there is physical correlation with the condition of the body and the level of barometric pressure in the atmosphere.

    One theory regarding the correlation between migraine headaches and barometric pressure is that the severe rise or drop in pressure that occur during a significant weather change cause the blood vessels in the brain to constrict or to dilate. Changes in the expansion of the cranial blood vessels has long been believed to be a leading contributing factor to the cause of migraine headaches, but the possibility that a change in barometric pressure can actually cause this constriction and expansion is a theory that has been more recently considered. While not all scientists currently support this theory, or in fact, support the correlation between migraine headaches and barometric pressure at all, most health care professionals I have spoken with who work with migraine headache sufferers absolutely believe that a connection exists between the changes in atmospheric pressure and the occurrence of their patients' migraines.

    Another theory that has been posed to me regarding the questions surrounding barometric pressure and its effects on migraine headaches is that the change in pressure in the atmosphere may also cause the cranial fluid in the brain to expand, placing more pressure on the bones of the cranium and on the brain itself.

    Finally, there is a theory that the change in atmospheric pressure may actually affect the electrical activity of the brain. In a study conducted by a group of researchers at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, it was determined that when compared with normal individuals, electrical activity in the migraine victims' brains, as measured by an electroencephalogram, was less organized and reached a higher intensity during the weather shifts.

    So what use is discovering the connection between barometric pressure and migraine headaches? After all, there is nothing we mortal souls can do about the weather, so how is it helpful to know that there might be a pressure front coming that is placing you at risk for a migraine headache? Well, there are a few ways that recognizing the effects of barometric pressure on your migraine headache cycles might benefit you. First of all, most migraine medications work best when taken at first sign of a migraine. Knowing that a change in barometric pressure is predicted will help you to be on your guard, so that you might notice the first, ambiguous, "off" feelings that many migraine sufferers often experience for hours, sometimes days before the aura preceding the migraine starts. By medicating prophylactically, some migraine headache sufferers may actually be able to treat the migraine before it starts. Another benefit of knowing that an impending change in barometric pressure may put you at risk for a migraine headache is that you will know to be very careful to avoid other migraine triggers. Few sufferers of migraine headaches have just one trigger. For some, certain foods may also affect their migraine cycles. Stress can be another trigger, as can exposure to fumes or sharp, strong odors. Fresh air and sunlight can be a reverse trigger for others. Knowing that one, unalterable, unavoidable trigger is coming down the pike will clue sufferers in that they will need to be more vigilant about the alterable, avoidable triggers to place themselves in the best possible condition to stave off the attack.

    The influence that barometric pressure has on sufferers of migraine headaches is a topic that still requires more study in order to determine the specific nature of the correlation that one has to the other. However, by my account and by the accounts of many, many victims of migraine headaches, change in barometric pressure is certainly a significant trigger of these monster headaches. Knowing that such a correlation exists is a piece of the puzzle that forms the picture of these severe, debilitating headaches.

    I'm not trying to freak you out - but I would have her see a neurologist ----LIGHTS are often a trigger of migraines AND seizures from certain types of epilepsy. This is NOT the first time Duckie has vomited from lights. I think this is like the 3rd time I remember this happening and all three times - lights were involved. You know the strobe lights in a horror house? They will trigger seizures and I was tested for that - had little electrodes literally drilled and taped into my skull - FUN...(actually it wasnt bad - the stuff my brain saw was hideous) - another time another story. HOWEVER - I think its called an EEG. (funny - i do have a brain that registers)

    Anyway - I think it's about time you start taking that diary you've been keeping of her triggers and days, weather, food - vs headaches to the doctor........THIS COULD be something as simple as allergies or it may be something more complex but the light thing kinda worries me......ALSO it may be time to get her a really REALLY good ophthalmologist......visit.

    I have suffered from migraines for years - I now take anti-seizure medications and have a back up - even though I have done diet eliminations (no sugar) LOW to no caffeine - I still get bad crippling migraines that leave me where I can't talk, can't walk, and end up in the er getting a shot of phenegrin, and something else mixed in for pain maybe delaudid? I'm never awake long enough to ask I just know I'd drink battery acid and jump off a bridge to get rid of the pain...it feels like my skull is going to explode and is on fire. (literally no better way to put it)

    I think she needs to see a few docs TM ........and if he says - Wellllll she's just got migraines........then get her on a good medication - and batten down the hatches and wrap (i think you said heat works for her) her head in heat, lower the blins and go for it.............a nice quiet time.......with a bucket. Not much more you can do.

    HUGS to you and the duckster.
  3. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I agree that you should consult a neurologist. This is more than allergies, BIG time. If you suspect a pattern with big storm fronts, report that to a neuro. That is NOT normal for allergies. It might be that they would give her a prn to help when there's strong storms predicted or they might find out that it's something else and the storms are just a coincidence. No matter what, take the whole issue to a good neurologist. Something is going on and it ain't allergies.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have had severe headaches/migraines all of my life. My first one that a dr saw was when I was age 4. I am so very sorry that Duckie is having to deal with headaches of any kind. There are more types of headaches than migraines and it is possible to have more than one type. It is entirely possible that the weather changes are causing/triggering her headaches.

    My mom is one of the rare people who get migraines when a big storm is going away. My dad gets them when a storm is coming in. Gfgbro has never had a migraine and I get them when the weather gets better AND when it gets worse. There is a definite link between barometric pressure and headaches.

    However, Duckie could also be getting them for any of a dozen or more reasons. One of the BEST things you can do to help her is to start a record of when she has a headache, where it hurts (front, sinuses, left side, back, top, etc.... have her put one finger where it hurts the worst and then the next worse, etc...). Track her sleep, what she eats, activities, etc... A month or two of that while you wait to see a neuro could save you invaluable time and provide him with valuable info that will let him treat her most effectively and efficiently.

    You can probably find a headache chart online to help you keep records. Make sure to include what you did and how well it helped her.

    Her pediatrician may want to go ahead and do an mri and then treat her if the mri is normal. Or the pediatrician may want to just refer you on and let the neuro order any tests. If you are going to the neuro, urge the doctor to do the mri NOW because it will save very valuable time.

    There are many treatments for migraines, both real and bogus. I would very very strongly urge you to NOT give her excedrin migraine. first, it has aspirin and that is NOT safe for someone under 18, esp if they have a cold coming on. I also urge you to avoid motrin, aleve, etc... because they can cause a rebound effect which is an ugly cycle. You start with motrin for a headache that is bad. It helps. You have a headache in a day or two and take more motrin (can be ANY NSAID or tylenol, just using motrin as an example). Before long you are having headaches almost every day.but the motin is awesome, and then starts not being so great which means you take more of it.

    In this scenario, which is super common and can set in over as little time as 2-3 weeks, your body is creating the headache because it wants the motrin. I you take the motrin and the headache leaves until the motrin wears off or isn't giving the same effect. This is a major reason that Duckie needs to see a doctor and pref a pediatrician neuro.

    The headache diary will be very helpful in identifying triggers. There is a group of foods known to cause migraines and these should be noted on the diary so that you can try to find out if they area trigger for Duckie. I react to different thigns than most people, so the headache food list didn't help me much. I react more to msg, artificial flavors, high levels of artif coloring, preservatives and the chemicals they put in sausages and lunch meats like bologna. (totally off topic - am I the only one with the oscar mayer bologna song going through my head every time i type or write the word? you know, B-O=L=O-G-N-A going through my head? Back on topic now!)

    There are two main purposes for migraine medications - to prevent and to stop. Triptans are generally used to stop migraines. Sumatriptan, aka imitrex, is probably the most common triptan. It was the first released in the US. You can get it in a nasal spray (nasty aftertaste but works very fast) or tablets of 25mg, 50mg or 100 mg. Tablets take longer to work, 15-30 min usually. there are other medications, but I had my child start with imitrex because I had taken it for years and knew a lot about how it worked. IF trptans don't work, they can give other medications but they don't work as well for most people and many have addiction risks because they are either opiates or barbiturates. You do feel 'better' with those kinds of medications but you still know the headache is there. mostly you just don't care that it is there thanks to the non-trptan medications.

    I will alert you to a medication called treximet. I have nothing against it. It is a combo of sumatriptan and aleve. The aleve does make the sumatriptan (imitrex) work better adn longer. Trexmet is FAR more expensive than sumatriptan because treximet is not generic. It is the drug co's answer to losing such a big cash cow when imitrex went generic. If the doctor gives sample of treximent, take them - samples of migraine medications are very hard to get. If the doctor wants to rx treximet, ask him to rx imitrex instead and give separate instructions for school and for you to give her 2 aleve (220 mg per tablet of aleve whih amounts to 440 mgs, treximet has 500 mgs of aleve n it) with the imitrex. it is okay to take the aleve with the imitrex as long as it is not a daily dose and her migraines are well managed.

    Migraine mgmt is the other part of medications for migraines. There is a limit of 9 imitrex per month with most insurance companies. not just because the cost, there can be some serious health issues if you take a large amt over a long period of time. If a patient needs all 9 per month, or more than 3 per week, that patient generally needs a preventative. I did not make that up - my various neuros over the years and J's and Wiz' neuros have said this.

    Preventatives come in many types. partly it depends on what the trigger is. When I lived in TX my migraines were largely allergy related. Seldane (I miss seldane - allegra just doesn't work as well!) was very helpful at that time. I have other triggers though. Many docs want to jump to the newer, very powerful medications before trying the old tried and true ones.

    I get leery of docs who push to skip the tried and true medications with-o a VERY good reason. not just because lower cost of older medications, but also because we know so very much more about the effects - good and bad - of medications that have been in use for decades. beta blockers are often used as a first preventative. They lower your blood pressue and Duckie would need to have her checked regularly. I think I remember your school nurse being very helpful, so that might be handy. BB's can make you drowsy at first but you get used to it. Propranolol is considered the oen to try first in most areas, but you can try any beta blocker and the doctor may have a favorite to start with.

    if BB's dont work, calcium channel blockers are usually next. I know verapimil is one, and I thnk they work by lowering your blood pressure, but these have not been super helpful to me so I don't know as much about them.Anti seizure medications are next, with topomax being one of the most prescribed. I would hesitate to start with that wth Duckie until you have tried other medications because it is so powerful and can do so many different things to a person.

    I will post more later, but I have to go run an errand before they close!
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Thank you for the responses. Here's a list of other things that may have contributed:

    1. Stress~ she started middle school and while everything is fine, it is still a big change. Plus, our home life is more chaotic that normal as we're getting ready to move to a new house nearby.

    2. She's tired: getting up at 6AM for school and having rehearsals until 9PM is kind of rough.

    3. She went to a local festival last evening after rehearsal; she rode rides until nearly 11PM.

    4. Her ragweed allergy is bad right now despite medications and she has a little congestion.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    The others here have given great responses.
    Poor kid! You want to get a grip on that as soon as you can so that you can get a plan in place--ice, medications, whatever--and hopefully, she won't have to suffer for the rest of her life.
    This year was one of the worst for me because of the change in weather pressure systems, and we had one thunder storm that literally lasted 13 hrs. I honestly don't recall one that long, ever. I thought I was going to die (or, actually, wanted to). I felt sooo heavy, and the pain was just like you described, and then got to the point of nausea. I took pretty much everything in the cabinet--antihistamines, decongestants, fiorocet, imitrex--and laid in bed with-a big ice pack on the back of my skull. Thankfully, that did the trick. But I was stuffy and wobbly for a day or two until the sun came out. Sheesh!
    Many hugs for difficult child. I know that fatigue will make EVERYTHING worse.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sending gentle hugs to Duckie and to you, TM. It is really hard to watch your child suffer through a migraine when you can do little about it.

    Migraine mgmt can be VERY difficult. Over the last decade I have been rather upset when docs either want to start topomax (topiramate) or even depakote or lyrica before they even discuss a headache diary, possible triggers, food triggers and other ways to prevent migraines. I find it strange to start with medications that have a lot of serious side effects and are incredibly expensive for most families when there are older, better known, vastly less expensive medications available. These less expensive, older medications often work as well or better if used properly and have side effects that we know TONS more about and we know are generally far less severe. All medications involve risk, but do they have to jump to the higher-highest risk medications before they try the better known, lower risk medications?

    A lot of the best ways to handle Duckie's migraines depends on what is triggering them. I think you have taken very good steps to outline some of the triggers for this latest one. One thing to be aware of that seems counter-intuitive are "let down migraines". These happen after a stressful event occurs. If there is a lot of pressure you often do quite well during the event (a move, a party, first week or two of school, going back to school after a busy weekend, etc.... AFTER the event you feel the relief of not having that pressure/stress (even if it is a good thing like your birthday or a party or whatever) and your body just goes sort of haywire. Then you end up with a migraine and it is an awful one. I used Occupational Therapist (OT) have a migraine every Mon or Tues all through sixth and seventh grade. There were no medications available back then, at least not that we knew of. It was awful.

    One way to help prevent a let down migraine is to make sure that there is SOMETHING that Duckie MUST do after a stressor. No spending the day in bed or lounging and watching tv. She needs to go and do something, or clean the garage or whatever, or help you with a project. This won't get rid of all the let down headaches, but it can reduce the number of them that plague you.

    I could go on, but think some practical tips might be more helpful right now. I know you put an ice pack on her neck and that was good. So was the darkened bedroom. If her room does not have blackout curtains, get some. Walmart had some called "Eclipse" curtains for $10-$15 per panel. These are lined to block out all light. You could also get fabric that blocks all light and use it to line curtains if the ones at WM dont' suit.

    When she has a migraine, some smells or all smells may make things much worse. If she doesn't like it normally, she will loathe it during a migraine. I find smells are more likely to make me vomit than anything else during a migraine. Odors CAN be a migraine trigger. They are for me in a HUGE way.

    Sounds may also bother her. I know a lot of people wth migraines who cannot tolerate anything that beeps or makes a high pitched sound. During a migraine many people are vastly more sensitive to sound. To me it often feels like a sharp nail is being driven into my head - that is how sound feels to me. esp high pitched sounds.

    Audiobooks may help her get through a migraine. They give you something to focus on. Meditation can also help and there are guided meditations to help you learn how to do this.

    Rice bags are amazing during migraines, in my opinion. You can keep them in the freezer in a ziploc or you can heat them in the microwave. I only use them hot, but they are fab, esp over my eyes. The heat is soothing and the bag keeps the light out. While they are often sold at craft fairs, you can make them easily at home. In a pinch, grab a tube sock and fill it with rice. Tie or sew it shut and heat it up or freeze it. The sock won't last as long because the rice will work out through the knit fabric and any worn areas. I find ones made wth woven fabric last longer than ones made from knit fabric. At least in oru house.

    You can make your own cold packs using two ziploc type bags, NOT the kind with the slider thingy though. Put approx 1 c water and 1 c rubbing alcohol together in a sandwich bag. Put that inside a quart size freezer bag and freeze. It won't harden and is a quick and easy cold pack.

    One thing that can be super helpful is to put the ice bag on your head and a hot rice bag under your neck. or you can reverse those, depends on how you react to heat and cold. It is often far more helpful than either the hot or cold pack would be alone.

    When we have to travel more than about 45 min from home, I take a rice bag wiht me. I can heat it at almost any gas station and it can be a huge help. If you are somewhere that you cannot do this or don't have a rice bag wth you, get a 20 oz soda or a 2 liter soda. Toss the soda or drink it fast or put it in something else. Clean the bottle as best you can if you want to, then use the tap or the hot water on the coffee maker and fill the bottle with hot water (or cold water if you want/need cold - use the water function from the ice maker or soda fountain if possible. Seal the bottle and it will work as a hot or cold pack utnil you get home or to where you can do somethng else.

    i hope some of this helps. I am so sorry Duckie has these headaches.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I guess this will be a shorter version of what Star* said...

    Barometric-pressure as a trigger for migraines... oh ya, we know about those in our house. The "problem" can start along with all sorts of other puberty-related issues.

    Ditto on the diary/log/journal - track weather including barometric pressure and direction (up or down), and food - in particular, the usual triggers, but also anything out of the normal for Duckie. Some of the food triggers (i.e. the ones we have to watch out for) are chocolate, orange juice from concentrate (don't ask why, I don't know - but oranges, and fresh-squeezed oj, don't seem to be a problem), caffeine.

    Ditto on the pre-emptive pain killers. For more than a year, K2 had to have rx-level pain killers. But the need for those got less as she got farther down the line with full-blown puberty. Oh, and don't just use any old "motrin" - use gel-caps. K2 was told that the fast-acting gel-caps put a lid on the pain far faster - and that's really all pain medications can do, so the faster it kicks in, the better. We use generic stuff for almost everything OTC that we can, but... she gets brand-name Motrin gel-caps, it's worth it.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Ah, yes ... puberty and hormones. Most of the people I know (myself included) have far fewer migraines now that we're -- ahem -- older.
    There are still other triggers, but at least one has been elmininated.
    Poor Duckie.
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911


    you need to find out (for certain) that shes actually suffering FROM migraines first off - and that means ruling out everything else -----

    See I had BAD allergies all my life - but after pricktesting - I was positive to 360 out of 400 - (very rare) and so I started taking shots. Took them for over 10 years. NOW the stuff that used to bother me and nearly kill me is kind of like "meah - not really" and I can get by with an OTC allergy pill. Some pollens and ragweed and other things - like smells and toothpaste and weird stuff - will still give me problems. Remember Crest toothpaste? Back in the day if I used it, I'd get lumps on my feet - anaphylaxis - to TOOTHPASTE - I'm telling ya I should have been shipped to AZ and lived in a bubble. DRYER less humid climates help.

    When I say find out what kind of migraines (if the case) Duckie has? I have a few triggers.....and there are somethings I can remove myself from - like - CUT OUT CAFFEINE ----and how odd that most of the OTC medicines HAVE blasts of caffeine in them. (that's why exederine was no good) it was just MASKING a problem not eliminating it - now you can't find exederine migraine and people are crazy trying to find it - google it on ebay and the stuff is going for (or was) for $100 a bottle.....talk about black market goods. It may be less now - but people are greedy - so go figure.

    My triggers are hormone flux - that time of the month - AFTER? OMG my skull is splitting. No matter what medications I take or do? For one day a month it's like Buffalo run through my grey matter and tap dance to a Gilbert and Sullivan show on the third floor and I live on the second. IT IS awful. Those headaches are usually unilateral - meaning all over both sides. Those aren't the bad ones.

    The other ones are the after the storm ones - I had someone show me a cool trick with a soda can and how it vacuumed shut because of pressure -a nd thats basically what my head feels like - that and on fire....but AFTER STORMS...while it's raining? I am happy as a lark...OMG I have loved rain forever...then out comes the sunshine and I could just scream.....(before I was on the Topamax) Now it's a frog hunt with a pickle fork if I'm going to get a bad one - but when THOSE come? They are at the base of my skull and usually off to the right side (if I'm lucky) if it's a left heimsphere headace? I may as well just get in the car and go to the ER. Left sides will put me on the floor.

    The other things that will do it? Sometimes stress but those are usually behind the eyes, and I'm learning AWESOME new breathing exercises and EXHALE exercises. Do some research on that and Duckie will be tons better - people do not know how to breath or get rid of bad oxygen in their system-----once you really become aware of how to breath and EXHALE? Stress diminishes, and actually for her acting career? This would be a plus. I have this new thing called Magic Balls - mom got it for my birthday - so inexpensive like 10.00 and the best relaxation techniques I've been taught in 48 years. I swear by the book...and i'm "on the ball" so to speak.

    The triggers that I avoid are WOMENS perfume......Days on end of bright sunshine.....(I'll stay inside) reading too small print.....not getting good night sleep....ice cream. Yup I love that stuff but I don't just get ice cream headache....I pay dearly for eating it the next day- LOTS of people do. I'm not lactose intolerant - I just am apparently allergic to something in that stuff. And it comes back with a vengence. McDonalds Hamburgers....have no idea why (MSG? Kangaroo.....lol) But their meat will give me a FULL ON instant migraine - and no one knows why. I can eat their square fish burger - no problem bob - but a burger? BAD....like 45 minuters later and I'm in pain.

    And last but certainly not least - stupid people.
  11. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I started getting what I called sinus headaches in my twenties. I would usually wake up with them and they would progress to vomiting. I found that the combination of sudafed and ibpuprofin helped me when I could keep them down. They were definitely seasonal and would be the worst in the fall when I was congested.

    easy child started having headaches in high school. The first time one hit, she ran into a dark room and laid down and went to sleep. We went to a pediatric neurologist who diagnosed her with migraines. He asked if anyone else in the family had migraines and I mentioned that my mother had one once a month the entire time I was growing up. Hers were definitely hormonal.

    I mentioned that I had sinus headaches and when I described them he told me that I was really having migraines that were triggered by allergies. He said most of what people think are sinus headaches are actually migraines.

    The doctor started easy child on medications and to our dismay we found out that easy child was allergic to the entire class of triptan drugs that are used for migraines. The only thing she could take was the prescription pain killer Midrin. When she takes it she gets sleepy and takes a nap and when she wakes up the migraine is usually gone.

    The good news is that easy child is having less and less of them as she is getting older. I hope Duckie can find a medication that works for her.

  12. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Only good advice I can give...........don't "assume" they're migraines. If they continue, get her checked out by the doctor, neuro or family doctor, make certain of the diagnosis.

    Could be her allergies are worse, from what I hear both mold and pollen are through the roof this year. Could be the wonky weather......I dunno about you guys but going from 88 to 60 gave me one heck of a headache but I wouldn't classify it as a migraine......it was close though. Could be stress and fatigue. Could be a LOT of things.

    Between the weather and pollen.........omg, it's been a tylenol zyrtec year for me. Usually I can stop both by the beginning of summer. sheesh

    But if something new presents itself and doesn't go away or gets worse, it's best to have it checked out if you can to know for certain what you're dealing with and what to do for it.

    Hope she feels better soon. Allergies are bad enough this year without adding in something new.