Migraine: Rhymes With Pain For A Reason

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About once a month or so, I see rainbows — and it sucks. It's the aura that announces my migraine — you can see one aura above this post, and another below — and it generally means that if I don't take medication, I'm in for a seriously rotten twenty-four hours. At least three people on the staff are afflicted with migraine headaches (or some other kind of debilitating chronic headache). It's the pits. Well, The New York Times has a blog* that's now dedicated to migraines — written by migraine sufferers. We're talking to some of those bloggers today, and we're taking your questions about the strange (and painful) world of the migraine. (Insert "Over the Rainbow" reference here.)

*By the way, the NYT isn't the only migraine blog out there — in fact it's just the latest. Check these out.



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My migraines became much less frequent after quitting dairy products.

Sent by Elizabeth | 2:03 PM | 2-12-2008

wow... i am sitting today in semi-darkness on a sunny clear San Francisco Bay winter day because the little man in my head with the jackhammer from Sunday is at it again behind my right eye and rear left cranium lobe.. Yeah, a migraine sufferer since high school and at 50 here they get worst with age. My physician and I have gone through all the vascular constricting meds out and i find myself back to Zomig in low doses since i am concerned about how much swelling and deflating one's head blood vessels can take before like a rubberband POP!

Being a vegetarian [also since high school] what am i to consume when Dr. B has just about covered the waterfront of all my protein substitutes from meat and fish...[i.e. tofu, beans and nuts].. Onions! this is new to me also since in winter i make several huge pots of miso soap with 2 count them 2 kinds of onions and leeks! And of course, it would not be miso without tofu..nice chunky firm cubes of tofu with celery, parsips, golden beets..lemme stop. Also, i am a dried mango, raisins, cranberries and pineapple addict with cashews, pine nuts and chopped brasils..roasted or raw...

I dont do wine nor much cheese [hard to avoid in France this one] but geez what is an old man who loves to fly to do.

Last year on a trip from Paris to the Gulf at some 38000 feet, I experience a first a sudden migraine onset from a triple effect whammy that made me pass out/black out literally on board. A stewardess with the drinks craft had said: "Would you like..." and next thing I remember is waking up stretched across three econ seats out with folks staring down at me and checking my blood pressure. It was a combination of the woman and gentleman sitting next to me reeking of cologne/perfume [bad] and cigarette smoke [deadly combination] plus the fact that my special meal on the prior flight being laced with MSG. The airline crew were great and spot on and once i came too I informed them that it was migraine but was lucky to have a cardiologist from John Hopkins sitting two rows back from me. Moral of that tale - Airline passengers should realise that they are going to be within an re-circulating air environment for 4-14 hours being properly washed should suffice. Leave off the scented lotions, perfumes, colognes, etc. and if you smoke...gargle with mouthwash in respect of your fellow travelers prior to boarding and their [yours too] restricted air space.

I hate taking meds since vascular constrictors are non targeted. They cover the whole body[head, feet, heart, internal organs]. And once you down your meds, you are set for 4-9 hours of going to the loo every ten minutes to fifteen if your metabolic system is nuclear reactor charged. So, you ebb from one problem to flow [literally pun intended] with another... now back to my ice pack recycling excuse me please.. be well

And no, we did not have to abort our flight destination and arrive earlier than schedule.

Sent by K MJUMBE | 2:57 PM | 2-12-2008

I'm 58 and had migraines as early as grade school. The early migraines were allergic, caused by grass. I had no idea at the time of course. Thankfully these were short, an hour or two.

Around age 30 a doctor suggested trying atenolol, a beta blocker. Atenolol essentially ended my migraines. Over the years I experimented with stopping or other drugs, but only beta blockers work. There are significant side effects, but they are minor compared to regular migraines.

BTW, most migraine sufferers do NOT have symptoms like auras.

If you are a suffered, you MUST try beta blockers if you have not yet.

Sent by Robert J Carlson | 3:13 PM | 2-12-2008

I have suffered from Migraines for 10 years now. I have been on numerous medications. My migraines were about every other day, almost never leaving me painless.
I recently have been experimenting with a caffeine free diet. I have never drank much soda, so I assumed caffeine was not my problem. However, I love tea and chocolate!
Caffeine is CLEARLY the culprit of my migraines. I have felt so much better, able to live my life, and hopefully rid of my medications.
I hope that all migraine sufferers will one day be cured. I wish you all luck and sympathize with you.

Sent by Kristin M | 3:13 PM | 2-12-2008

I get migraines about four times a month. Nervousness, heat, light, lack of sleep or eating, triggers them the most.
I generally know when I am going to get one, when I wake up in the morning.
I can usually tell, because of dots in my vision, or lots of yawning.
I can't handle smells, or light, or heat, when I have a migraine.
It's debilitating. I am bed ridden until it goes away.
I've been having severe migraines since I was 13 and I still have them today, at 26.
The only way to get rid of them for me, is to lay down, and take medications, or drink hot tea.

Sent by Jessica Lapan | 3:14 PM | 2-12-2008

My migraines used to be more frequent when i was younger. Now I get them rarely and are triggered by chocolate, and wine with high sulfite content.
To control them I avoid these foods. I put an ice pack behind my neck and stay in bed in a completely dark silent room. Even the smell of food makes it worse. Because they often culminate with my throwing up, I try to get that out of the way on my own and it goes away sooner.

The medication I take can actually be felt as it starts working. It feels like ants in your brain.
One rare thing about my migraines is that they are always a prelude to more serious illnesses. I had one before having hepatitis, the mumps, pneumonia, meningitis, etc. It is some sort of pattern.

Sent by Ethan Saldana | 3:16 PM | 2-12-2008

I used to get migraines quite regularly until I started taking magnesium. It has been about a year now since the time I started taking the supplements and my last, intense migraine.

Sent by April Faasen | 3:17 PM | 2-12-2008

I suffered with migraines for years - severe visual wierdness, numb tongue and even memory loss - imagine my shock and delight when I found out that sinus migraine pills will stop them in their tracks! Sweet freedom! I haven't had to go home sick since that wonderful discovery.

Sent by Beth Minster | 3:18 PM | 2-12-2008

The lady who was on first, was full of mininformation. For example, a constant high level of caffiene increases migraines, while a sudden big dose of caffeine can ward off a migraine.

Sent by Robert J Carlson | 3:19 PM | 2-12-2008

i instituted a "zero tolerance policy", because it is so difficult to STOP the migraine cycle, once it begins. That meant taking a medication, if i had done ANYthing to make a migraine attack the least bit likely. For me, one trigger would is social situations. At 43, i suddenly attained menopause, although i was still undergoing fertility treatments at the time. i am very very relieved to be nearly completely relieved of 40 years of migraines. finding my own aura was very difficult, because my migraines were atypical. in the end, i figured out my aura was extreme, uncharacteristic impatience and agitation. i remember experiencing migraines since before i could even speak. besides the extreme unexpressable pain at (perhaps) three years old, the sensation i remember having was feeling as if i were sitting with my back on the edge of a sheer drop-off, into a dark bottomless abyss. (infants are born with a fear of falling, so i imagine that was the most profound sensation my toddler brain could muster.) thank you to doctor saper for helping me along the way.

Sent by jumpingmouse | 3:20 PM | 2-12-2008

There are two types of migraines. I suffer from the common migraine which does not announce itself with an aura. I have had as many as 17 in a month, tried every known type of preventive drug with no success. I've tried chiropractic and massage therapy with no success. I practically live on Imitrex, which can't be good for the rest of my body, but I'm at the end of my rope. Those who have never suffered a migraine have NO IDEA.

Sent by Kelly Bhirdo (pronounced bird o) | 3:21 PM | 2-12-2008

when I get a visual aura I know a migraine is coming. 2 oz of Vodka (alcohol is a vasodilator) will eliminate the aura and prvent the headache

Sent by Ken Scarlett | 3:21 PM | 2-12-2008

I have inherited both a tendency for migraines as well as TMJ (jaw joint) disorder from my father's side of the family. The TMJ doctor believes some of my migraines may be caused by the three-pronged nerve that connects the jaw and other parts of the face to that side of my brain.

Sent by JC | 3:23 PM | 2-12-2008

I have suffered from migranes for years and I can remember my mother suffering from them when I was a child. I have missed work several times because I had such terrible nausea and the pain was unbearable. I can completely relate to what your guest described but having a migrane for a year is unimaginable. I feel like we are all members of an unfortunate club.

Sent by Jennifer M | 3:24 PM | 2-12-2008

I get migraines cyclically. I have figured out a combination of home remedies that works better than any over-the-counter meds I have used for years. I used to go through 2000-2400 miligrams of ibuprofen a day!

I now work hard to hydrate myself by drinking nothing but water. I use peppermint oil by dabbing it on my fingertrips and rubbing my head eveywhere it hurts. I then put an oil called M-Grain in an atomizer and have it mist into the room, put a cold pack on my head, close my eyes and lie down. Usually in an hour, I am much improved.

Sent by J. Grahmann | 3:24 PM | 2-12-2008

My daughter had frequent migraines one year, as well as a sudden flurry of floaters. Going to the doctor didn't help -- it hurt, because she was denied insurance when she tried to switch carriers, because of the migraines. These are murky economic waters we tread, with unexpected monsters lurking beneath to gobble our security. No insurance because of floaters and migraines??

Sent by Ola | 3:25 PM | 2-12-2008

Please please please emphasize that caffeine can be a REAL PROBLEM with migraines. Yes, they can sometimes ward off a headache if you know it's coming, but more often, people try to self-treat with caffeine, and it just makes it worse.
I've had migraines since I was about 16, and find that there is a hormonal connection, along with sugar and dairy products. Sometimes I get a visual aura (bright squiggly lines) and have a "classic migraine," but sometimes it sneaks up on me and I end up with a one-sided headache that I have to wait out. I'm having one of those right now, and am typing this with an ice pack wrapped around my head.
I wouldn't wish migraine on anyone!

Sent by Laura | 3:25 PM | 2-12-2008

I have found that botox injections in the region of the headache has been the only thing that helps. My first memories are of having migraine headaches. I have missed many things in my life until I found the botox injections a number of years ago - before everyone was talking about botox. I was part of a study to see if it helped.

Sent by lynn | 3:26 PM | 2-12-2008

I get ocular migraines several times a year. The visual aspect of it resembles the second video. However, there's no pain. The visuals last 20-30 minutes and then they're gone. The only lasting effect is that I'm very tired.

Sent by sharon in st louis | 3:26 PM | 2-12-2008

I had a three month long migraine after the birth of my second child. I tried every migraine medication on the market at the time; nothing worked. I had an appointment to see a neurologist scheduled for some distant time in the future when my physician's assistant recommended we talk to the doctor at her practice. He also practices eastern style medicine. We tried acupuncture and I had immediate relief. I had to go in about once a week for a month, but each time the pain was reduced until, finally, it was gone for good. No headaches since. I highly recommend trying acupuncture; it cannot hurt and it just might help.

Sent by Diana | 3:27 PM | 2-12-2008

I have suffered from severe migrains since I was a teenager. I have tried EVERYTHING possible. In my late 20's I was having migraines weekly, sometimes lasting 3-4 days. Four years ago a pain specialist put me on a daily calcium channel blocker, which is a miracle for me. I am now taking Diltiazem and get a migraine if I miss only 2 days of pills, something I have only done 3 times due to travel or forgetting to refill in time. I also see a chiropractor regularly for neck adjustment. I now have a migraine a couple times a year. I also avoid caffeine, a trigger for me, and perfumes. Thanks for all your educational programs.

Sent by Donna Vogel | 3:27 PM | 2-12-2008

I'm now 67 vears old and I had migranes when I was a child -- from about the age of 5 until I was a young teenager, about 16. They were usually triggered by prolonged exposure to sunlight. I remember coming home from a San Francisco Seals baseball game and suffering excruciating head pain for hours. Are childhood migraines common? Go they usually fade away as mine did?

Sent by Sam Anderson | 3:28 PM | 2-12-2008

i had migraines since i was a child. I had the eye visions, sickness, light sensitivty (sp). once the pain was over it could take up to 3 days to recover from it. I was told for years to stay away from coffee. started drinking it when i was 38 and i now rarely get one. matter of fact i can't remember the last time i had one.

Sent by Barney Stritch | 3:29 PM | 2-12-2008

I have had migraine since I was 11 years old. I have the visual disturbances, and vomiting, and PAIN. It lasts for days, then there???s hangover; not be able to bend down or move suddenly ect. A few years ago a friend told me about medical marijuana, and I tried it. I could not believe it! I had the migraine headache, but it only lasted 3 HOURS! The hangover phase was still there but only lasted for rest of that day. Has anybody done any studies on this?

Sent by Cindy | 3:29 PM | 2-12-2008

About a year ago I read a news article out of Canada stating that a doctor had used a handheld electromagnetic device placed at the base of the skull of a person suffering from migraines which subsequently either stopped or decreased. Have you heard anything about such a treatment using electromagnetic fields to cure migraines?

Sent by Gabe Garcia | 3:29 PM | 2-12-2008

A relative of mine gets frequent if not daily migraines. However, he has discovered significant relief if he
can visit be in a place that is at SEA LEVEL as opposed to the higher elevation where he lives. He does plan to move ASAP.

Sent by K. Sammons | 3:29 PM | 2-12-2008

I have noticed I will get a migraine following intense physical activity. I am usually able to keep them from progessing if I eat something containing a large amount of sugar. Could this be due to some sort of chronic blood/sugar problem

Sent by Brian Cora | 3:29 PM | 2-12-2008

I typically lock myself in a dark room, lie down and try and go asleep. If I can't try and sleep I try Transcendental Meditation which usually helps me relax enough to deal.

Sent by Bryan Bax | 3:30 PM | 2-12-2008

I wonder if the "letdown" is a malfunction at the cellular level of waste removal. Is the circulatory system "clogged up" somewhere?

Sent by April Taylor | 3:31 PM | 2-12-2008

my mother gets hers with weather changes, smells (perfumes, gas, etc.) or nerves. She's had them her entire life (75 years young in July)She had an odd respite after many doctor visits and trying everything suggested a doctor diagnosed hers were caused by a nasal bone having been pushed into her sinus cavity. He gave her a "nose job" broke her nose removing the bone from her sinus and she was free from the migranes for many months. Unfortunately they returned and she has essentially given in to living her life with them. She is taking Cafergot. I had some when I was younger, now get them only when I drink certain red wines. (easy to avoid!)

Sent by Sherry K | 3:31 PM | 2-12-2008

As a pharmacist, I empathize with the many sufferers of this disease. I feel that there are number underutilized treatments, including intranasal lidocaine and oral metoclopramide (Reglan).
I also am disturbed at the number of migraine sufferers with cardivascular disease who are on "triptan" therapy.

Sent by Thomas McCloskey | 3:33 PM | 2-12-2008

I have suffered from migraines for 30 years, but in the last few years discovered that chiropractic adjustments and decreasing my caffiene to a couple of cups a day rather than a pot and a half has decreased the headaches and made them manageable. I wish I would have know that chiropractic treatments would have made a life changing difference a long time ago, rather than suffering with them for 30 years!

Sent by Marcia | 3:33 PM | 2-12-2008

I have migraines - they started in my early childhood and dissapated through my teens and then came back in my twenties. Mine are trigured by relaxation.

Sent by Kathryn | 3:34 PM | 2-12-2008

Here's an encouraging story for you. After suffering a period of very unpleasant migraine episodes -- three a week that would last for 36 hours, my wife discovered a study in Baltimore that tested a daily dose of ACE inhibitors in migraine prevention. Something like 17 of 19 subjects were helped. The last migraine I experienced was the first day I took an ACE inhibitor. And I've had only one or two recurrences since -- over the last seven years. S

Sent by Scott Eberle -- Buffalo, NY | 3:34 PM | 2-12-2008

I starting getting migraines after 7th grade. The visual precursor reminds me alot of a Cubensis mushroom hallucination. I can remeber getting a migraine so bad, i sat in my bed crying in pain while clinching my teeth so i wouldnt puke...for about 5 hours.I seem to have lost my migraines once the stress in my life subsided.

Sent by DJ | 3:35 PM | 2-12-2008

A positive experience re: vitamins and migraines. I had late onset migraines - started at about age 48; I'm 56 now. My possible solution: I stopped taking a potent multi-vitamin/mineral supplement and started taking only vitamin B complex and magnesium. Kept me migraine free for 8 months - then I thought I'd try taking the full vit/min supplement again, to see if that was the variable in my situation, and had 5 attacks in ten days, more than ever before. Stopped the supplements again, and have been headache free for the past month. Not in any way a scientific study, and only a sample universe of one person, but it SEEMS to work for me. Just FYI. Good luck to all.

Sent by chris schoon | 3:36 PM | 2-12-2008

I am an acupuncture student near Cincinnati, OH where I have seen many people, some with migraines lasting years cured in our clinic.

Sent by Donna Brott | 3:36 PM | 2-12-2008

My migraines are intermittent and respond well to Cafergot (ergotamine-caffeine) which is generic and inexpensive. I just tried Maxalt MLT 10 mg for Rizatriptan MLT but is $10.00 a dissolvable table with my health plan. I'm too tight to pay $10 a tablet so I'm sticking with the Cafergot. Kaiser Permanente doctors have been very responsive.
Chocolate, red wines, and aged cheeses trigger my headaches but not all. The mystery headaches elude diagnosis.

Sent by Caryl Hughan (hu an) | 3:36 PM | 2-12-2008

I have had migraines since I was in the 3rd grade. As a child it really had a horrible effect on me with so much pain and nausea and vomiting.

People do not understand what a migraine is, it is NOT a headache. People who say,"oh, you have a headache", NO I am having a migraine, nothing like a headache.

I do not have auras other than sometimes extremely exhausted. This can happen anywhere from 4-12 hours before the headache begins.

Strangely I get a migraine after a massage or something that super relaxes me. I am the only person I know that gets sick after being relaxed.

I have had some success with Botox injections on my forehead. Botox tends to numb your forehead and I think it helps. I also think a diet by Dr. Carol Foster in Phoenix is also helpful. There are many foods that exacerbates migraine.

You must also stop beating yourself up for being sick. As I age, I am less and less "mad" at myself for being sick. It is extremely hard on my family not knowing where I can accompany them when I am down with a migraine.

Sent by Bill D | 3:37 PM | 2-12-2008

I was once diagnosed with "Cluster Migraines" terrible headaches that would wake me in the middle of the night. I quit smoking and they abruptly ceased. In retrospect, I think this was more related to a sinus condition from the smoking.

Sent by Jim | 3:37 PM | 2-12-2008

I had to take an early retirement because of complicated migraines. These migraines were accompanied by dizziness, passing out and seizure-like symptoms. During one such episode, I actually broke a hip. I developed a nearly daily migraine pattern following a reaction to a anti-inflammatory medication. After going to two well-know clinics in Michigan, I have found some relief with a great doctor at Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago.

Sent by Nancy Wilson | 3:38 PM | 2-12-2008

Brian Cora, I get migraines from intense physical activity too. I tracked it down to loss of electrolytes. Now I use Gatorade or equivalent and I have eliminated that source of the problem.

Sent by Robert J Carlson | 3:39 PM | 2-12-2008

The guest said he didn't know any medication that cost $65/pill. I know that Imitrex can cost around $80/pill, depending on which pharmacy you ask.

Sent by Carrie Williams | 3:40 PM | 2-12-2008

I was super excited to turn on my car and catch TOTN just as this segment was starting.

I'm a third generation migraineur who had my first one at 6 years old, and I was forced to leave my career as an attorney a little over a year ago. This has been a nightmare for me and my family. My day to day life has completed changed. I went from practicing law in a prestigious setting to trying to find an effective preventative regimen and coping with my new reality.

I run one of the blogs linked to in this blog entry, Somebody Heal Me (http://somebodyhealme.dianalee.net). Although migraines have become my focus out of necessity, it is my pleasure to bring migraineurs together on the web and do what I can to help provide education and support.

Sent by Diana Lee | 3:49 PM | 2-12-2008

Caffeine is a trigger for me like many foods and all alcoholic drinks, as well as light and moving images (especially from more than 2 hours at the computer and from watching movies and TV at night), and lack of sleep or stress. I have identified most of my triggers and can often avoid headaches by avoiding these substances and activities, except when things get busy at work, which is often. I don't have much warning when headaches are coming, as in having an aura. My headaches come on as I sleep and i wake up with them. Migraine drugs take away the pain in my head but leave it in my body. I become very foggy and have a hard time speaking well, which is a big part of my job. So, I now spend a lot of time each day doing what I can to avoid a having a migraine by avoiding triggers. I also meditate for about a half hour before I sleep and I go to bed early. Things are better now but my life is restricted and I try not to travel or even go out at night when I don't have to. Not so much fun, but SO much better than having the pain of a migraine. It keeps me from being as professionally successful as I would like. I am getting used to this and hope I can find a way to make all this work for me while I pursue my career. I am 52 and have had migraines since 27.

Sent by Mary E | 3:51 PM | 2-12-2008

I am a 'delighted' migraine sufferer! I've had migraines since I was 14 - I'll be 60 next week. About 3 years ago - after being annoyed almost to putting one of my Papillon dogs up for adoption - I realized she was alerting on my migraines long before I knew one was coming on. I have common migraines which generally don't arua but will wake me, knee-walking - commode hugging sick. My little 4 pounder will now wake me if necessary or stop me from some activity so I can take the cafergot and it actually has a chance to work. (I took Imitrex till it was determined it was affecting my heart) I feel like I've been given my life back and Maddie is a fully certified seizure alert dog that accompanies me everywhere.

Sent by Liddy-Ann Everett | 3:52 PM | 2-12-2008

There is a chiropractic technique called Sacro Occipital Technique that uses adjustments and cranial work together. Very helpful.

Sent by Jonathan Smith | 3:59 PM | 2-12-2008

I need one of those dogs for my Mom!

Sent by Sherry K | 4:02 PM | 2-12-2008

What an amazing story about your gifted little dog, Liddy-Ann!

Sent by Diana Lee | 4:05 PM | 2-12-2008

I too started taking Magnesium a year and a half ago and have noticed a marked decrease in the number of migraines I get.

Sent by Becky | 4:12 PM | 2-12-2008

I have been a migranie sufferer since the age of 12 when I started puberty, I am 57 now and I still suffer. Until recently I was suffering almost daily and living on Imitrex, the past year I have been getting hormone treatment under the skin and it has a made remarkable difference in my amount of migraines, I think I have found a solution for me.

Sent by Pam | 4:32 PM | 2-12-2008

I'm 24 years old and have had migraines for as long as I can remember (I didn't know exactly what they were until I was diagnosed a few years ago). I usually have migraines a few times a week. I've noticed that they have gotten worse recently. I wound up in the hospital a year ago because of an intense migraine that caused paralysis of the left side of my body and an almost complete loss of vision, the doctors thought I was having a stroke. Having a migraine is an intense and scary experience for me. I am still in the process of finding a good combination of medication and lifestyle changes that will ease my suffering. I have practiced yoga and meditation for the past 11 years and I've noticed that this does seem to help. The information from this blog has been immensely helpful and I am extremely happy that I caught TOTN on my way home from work today. Thank you for exploring this topic.

Sent by Jacquelyn G | 4:45 PM | 2-12-2008

My new year's resolution was to finally get to the root of my migraines. I have them at least 3 to 5 times a week for many years. Preventative medications have not worked. The only thing that works is taking 10mg Maxalt at the onset, but it is very expensive. I know red wine (alcohol in general) is a trigger and avoid it like the plague. I've cut way back on coffee to no avail. After a hysterectomy 2 months ago, I started taking bioidentical hormones after reading about a migraine treatment out of Houston clinic that claims 80% success. They say to give it 6 months to work. It's been 2 months and it has not dented the frequency or intensity. Weather can be a precursor too, but there's not alot I can do about that. I will try botox, and visit an ENT doc to see if it could possibly be sinus-related as they always start in my nasal area beneath my eye on one side. Until then Maxalt, is the only thing that works...don't tell your insurance company that you have migraines, they WILL exclude anything Neurologically-related if not outright rejecting you for coverage.

Sent by Michelle Friesenhahn | 5:09 PM | 2-12-2008

I'm surprised you didn't mention The Daily Headache (www.thedailyheadache.com). It is my favorite headache blog and has been around for nearly three years.

It is full of news and information, but also a lot of patient experiences. There's no whining, just great, thought-provoking posts.

Sent by James | 5:25 PM | 2-12-2008

My head hurts!! It has since about 3 weeks after my last sinus surgery in October. Before the last surgery I was in pain for about 4 years with very acute episodes throughout. This has been going on for the last 16 years (with 5 additional sinus surgeries)during which I've experienced very little pain free time and very little understanding from medical professionals or others. I can function, but sometimes it seems impossible given that no non-narcotic pain reliever can touch the pain and the narcotics are only doled out post surgery.

Sent by Justin Price | 6:48 PM | 2-12-2008

Anyone get migraines when there is a full moon? That is the time when I am most effected.

Sent by Judith Proud | 7:35 PM | 2-12-2008

I'd like to hear some discussion about the impacts migraines have not only on the sufferer but on the family members of the migraine.

I pretty much grew up without any parental supervision due to the severity and frequencies my mother migraines.

Sent by Vita (Veeta) | 7:41 PM | 2-12-2008

I have had migraine headaches since I was a kid. I always thought that everyone had headaches like this until a doctor told me otherwise in my mid-20s and sent me to a neurologist. Over the counter pain medications have never worked for me (even for pain other than migraines). I have tried a number of the prescription medications on the market for migraine headaches & have found one that usually works if I use it early enough in the headache's onset.

I'm lucky that my migraines are not as severe or as frequent as others who suffer from them. One thing I've learned about my headaches personally is that many times physical or mental stress or not eating soon enough (blood sugar crashing) will induce & exacerbate my headaches rather than the headache starting as purely a "vascular" headache.

Besides the head & neck pain that makes me want to cut my head off, my migraines are accompanied by sensitivity to light & sound plus nausea. If I catch it soon enough & treat it with medication, I can dull or subdue the headache. Otherwise I am committed to bed to sleep it off (in the course of one night if I'm lucky).

I just try to manage the mental & physical stress that I put on myself on a daily basis so that I don't push myself to the point where I am overly-susceptible to a having a migraine. I have also been seeing a nutritionist & a chiropractor over the past year. Avoiding gluten & sugar seems to help me as well as seeing my chiropractor for adjustments to my neck (which I injured as a kid).

Sent by Jennifer | 9:34 PM | 2-12-2008

I suffered regular two day migraines for many years (every 3 or 4 weeks), beginning about age 40. Medications (imitrex,replax, maxalt, etc) sometime worked if taken at the very earliest symptom. After reading Dr. Bucholz ' book about a year ago, I tried eliminating food triggers. It turned out that alcohol,
dark chocolate, soy sauce, aged cheese, vinegars, msg and caffeine were all triggers. Once I eliminated them from my diet, I have been largely migraine free. (Occasionally I will get a very minor migraine that doesn't prevent work or other activities) It was trial and error with the complete list of food triggers in the book that finally identified mine.

Sent by Reed | 11:56 PM | 2-12-2008

i started to have migraines after my son had a serious illnes. He is better, but I have daily chronic migraines. My gynecologist suggested Relpax and it is my life saver. I wake up about 4 AM with a raging head, take 20 to 40 mg and go back to sleep with the cover over my head. When I wake up at 7 or so, the migraine is gone and I can get on with my life. BUT, I'm concerned about taking Relpax every day..no side effects and my insurance pays for most of it. BUT I couldn't survive without it. Can't find any triggers except this stress of my son's illness, which of course will never go away.

Sent by Michelle | 11:57 PM | 2-12-2008

One added addendum to my earlier posting: as one ages with migraines and migraine prescription meds, you may experience changes to the "triggers". For example, instead of "aura" floaters when i was younger i now get blinded in one eye. Also, barometric pressure changes, I can usually tell 48 hours before a incoming rain storm hits by getting a wake-up call via the lightning bolts in my head. And, needless to say, if these go unattended fast, one is going to be worshiping at the porcelain shrine and be out for the day.

Obviously, different folks have different patterns and onsets but key is to following a strict regiment in internal and external factors: avoiding certain foods as well as situations.

From my perspective, these are scents, [smoke of any kind, perfumes, colognes and products that have too much of these laundry products, cleaners, etc.], MSG in foods, pressures changes in climate, erratic sleep patterns and amounts and work stress. Keep a 6month jot down journal may help one find patterns. But be pro-active. I have campaigned at my job to have HR send out a tone down the cologne/perfume wearing within the workplace memo, written to a couple of major airlines to include a messenger to passengers on their eticket iten receipts and next i am tackling the laundry products folks at Unilever and P&G since they put way too my fragrance in products. How is it one can wash their clothes in detergent with perfume, rinse them with fabric softners in another scent and then dry them with sheets of yet another another. One is triple-scented out. I am firmly convinced that wrapping kids in clothes overly scented after having them sleep and breathe overly scented fabrics is causing the western juvenile asthma problematic [in addition to mold and smoke]. Kids in rural environs even around farm animals do not have similar incidents as western kids.

Some of you have described thus far..one off situations cause by taking you normal biochemical body states out on an extreme; hence, triggering a one-off bad headache but these may not be migraines unless they come back within 6-24 hours after you think they are gone and its twice as worst. I am not convinced about the caffeine problematic here since i have used my one and only vice Ethiopian Harrar as a migraine preventative since 18 [one 8-10 oz cup per day]. I am worst if i do not have it then if i do without. The over the counter ergotamine-caffeine meds can assist some as replacement for prescription meds but once you migrate to the triptan family of pharma products you cannot go back since you have tweaked you body chemistry to response a whole different way and it will desire the hard stuff for relief. And these prescription meds can be expense if out of pocket and the pharmaceutical company still has patent rights on them [i.e. no generics available]. For example, my 2.5mg of Zomig are $22.00 per tablet out of pocket, my insurance limits me to 12 tablets per 30-day cycle. If you have 2-3 per week attacks, its enough to get you through a month if more, you are doomed...But migraines are specific to the individual so finding your triggers is the first step to avoiding them and this is were the journal will help.

Sent by K Mjumbe | 3:11 AM | 2-13-2008

I appreciate Siri's remarks on the program and how she has chronicled her migraine journey. As a fellow sufferer, I know how debilitating and emotionally painful this condition is. Even more difficult can be the misunderstanding associated with this condition, as some wonder why you just can't, "get over" a headache.
I share her belief about embracing the pain. In a Christian context I have come to do the same, seeing this not as a burden, but as a gift, and a way for me to connect with the Suffering Messiah.
Feel free to leave me a comment at www.derekwalter.com/blog.

Sent by Derek Walter | 3:16 AM | 2-13-2008

When I was in my early twenties, I got migraines on a daily basis, usually after lunch. I had to close the door to my office and turn off the lights. I didn't hallucinate, but I saw lights. These migraines were so painful that I couldn't read or talk to anyone. After a couple of hours in the dark, I was able to get back to work. My doctor prescribed Inderal, which seemed to work at first, but had to increase the dosage several times - and finally it didn't work at all. After doing a lot of research, I decided to go on a very strict, low fat, vegetarian diet (macrobiotic). It worked. I suspect that my migraines were triggered by the growth hormones in meat. Since then, I've been able to eat fish without any recurrence of the migraines. And I'm not taking any medication.

Sent by Mike McKeon | 5:59 AM | 2-13-2008

I have dealt with migraines for over 30 years (2 or 3 a week), and taken all kinds of medications and strategies to manage them. Nothing worked well - but a few months ago I heard Dr. Buchholz talk about his book Heal Your Headache on NPR. Needless to say, after 30 years of doctors telling me what to do and not getting relief, I was skeptical to say the least. However, I was absolutely desperate, and half-heartedly eliminated a few things on his food trigger list. AMAZING! My headaches decreased so I adopted his complete diet and read his book. I have never felt so good or had so few headaches in my life. THANK YOU Dr. Buchholz!!!!

Sent by Leanne Paetz | 8:10 AM | 2-13-2008

My migraines are often triggered by sun, like my father before me and his mother before him. For some reason I've chosen to live in California. Excedrin is my magic tonic, and I thought all was well.

About a year ago I started having "stomach problems." It begins with a wave of anxiety in the evening, followed by insomnia, then comes diuresis, lower abdominal cramping, and sometimes diarrhea. After many doctor appointments, changes in diet, scans of my gall bladder, a CT of my liver, and baffled doctors ... I suddenly realized ... this is migraine! And this one, it seems, I can do nothing for. There is no headache, though, so I just lose a night of sleep. Could be worse.

If it wasn't for Oliver Sacks' book, Migraine, I would still be going to the doctor getting test after test after test. Migraine takes of so many different manifestations.

And, yes, I am a very high strung person. And I've been very stressed, especially over the past year.

Sent by Krista | 9:54 AM | 2-13-2008

I have had a constant headache since I was 13, I am 37. They seem very much tied to fluctuations in my hormones. They were very bad when I was a teen, when I tried the pill and recently when I needed a hormomal medication. Most of the time they are just a part of my life and relatively low grade. I am glad you did this piece yesterday because sometimes I have wondered if I was the only one with this problem of a headache all the time.

Sent by Julie | 2:22 PM | 2-13-2008

My first migraine occurred at age six. They became very frequent in my late 30's. I think weather and stress are my clearest triggers. My parents and siblings also suffer from severe headaches, and we used to call them all "sinus headaches" when I was young. My doctors and I have tried a number of different things but what's working now is this:
--daily 25 mg dose of amitriptyline;
--use of a "night jaw splint" for TMJ;
--general avoidance of caffeine, EXCEPT that when I actually get a headache I first try taking two aspirin and a small amount of Coke or Pepsi; and
--for a headache that comes on fast or hard, or that doesn't respond to aspirin and caffeine, I take Relpax, a prescription anti-migraine drug that works like a miracle.

It helps to have a doctor who really listens to you and is willing to try different things.

Sent by Melinda in Cleveland, where the weather should make it the migraine capital of the world | 2:22 PM | 2-13-2008

I have been a migraineur since about age 10. I was even to the point of having 5 a week. I have been treated by an acupuncturist, which I have got to say REALLY helped.
Also, I have fibromyalgia and TMJ, they seem to go hand and hand.
The best thing that I have found for migraine prevention is 500 mg Magnesium and 250 mg of CoQ10. My doctor suggested this daily treatment. CoQ10 is a bit expnsive but it certainly is less costly than missing work, and better for the body than daily injections of Imitrex.
I still use the Imitrex when I get a migraine, but they are much less frequent.
I highly recommend this treatment, but I know that what works for one person may not work for another.

Sent by Carol S. Medford Oregon | 2:58 PM | 2-13-2008

I am a nurse but I couldn't help myself. I was in misery for 2 years. The occasional migraine I had since age 26 escalated over 15 years until I was having 2 a week. I saw a lot of doctors with little relief. I was on beta blockers and avoided chocolate etc. I was taking so much Imitrex, I was afraid for my health. Finally a chemistry teacher at the college where my husband teaches took pity on me and examined my diet. I loved diet soda and drank a couple a day and most diet soda is sweetened with Aspertame. Plus, I was always dieting and eating diet food. She told me to stop all Aspertame ingestion and within 2 weeks, my migrains stopped! That was 12 years ago. Now, I one or two a year if I don't get enough sleep but they are nothing like they used to be.
If I steal one of my husband's sodas, I have another blinding migrain within a few hours. My mother developed the same thing although her tolerance for Aspertame is much higher than mine. My friend, the chemist, firmly believes that Aspertame produces a non nutrative sugar that can build up in the body. She strongly advices we eliminate or greatly reduce our intake of it. None of the other nonnutritive sugars give me migrains. You might want to consider eliminating Aspertame from your diet but remember, Aspertame is used in almost every diet food including some noncaloric fiber drinks. Read your labels.

Sent by Linda | 3:04 PM | 2-13-2008

I'd started getting intense migraines about the same time my back had gone out twice in one year. I went to a chiropractor (which I had always avoided before- I didn't want to have to depend on another person to manage my pain, but I also didn't want to take drugs).

My chiropractor, after examining my x-rays, showed me where my spine was misaligned (both at the base of my neck as well as my lower back). She explained to me the ways in which major nerves run alongside our spines, and how much sense it made that I'd been getting migraines considering the misplacement of my spine. In the year and a half that I spent with my chiropractor, I never had another migraine. I was sad that I had to move away from her, but it's been about three and a half years since my first visit, and I still haven't had a migraine.

Chiropractic can be very helpful, if you find the right doctor (I still haven't found a new one yet). It can also be expensive and time-consuming, but there are many insurance plans that will now cover it. And when one considers the cost of all the hours spent in pain, I feel like I made the right decision.

Sent by Christina Thach | 3:36 PM | 2-13-2008

I remember suffering from my first migraine at the age of 5 - I am now 38. I lost 30 years of my life to trying to fight these things, trying to find "triggers", going through various therapies, anything but drugs. Anything to save my liver and prolong my life. Migraines ruled my life - my vacations, relationships, being able to be there for my kids when they need me, my work, and social life. You know what? I got over it! I'd rather live 15 years pain free than 30 years again as a slave to migraines! I got on Topomax 3 years ago and it has CHANGED MY LIFE! I can have a drink with friends and not be in bed for 4 days in agony, I can fly in a plane and actually enjoy my vacation when I arrive at my destination, I CAN LIVE! In 3 years, I literally have had maybe 4 headaches that have tried to creep through that I have been able to instantly control with Relpax. This, compared to being in bed at least 3 days a month when my cycle hit, because that for sure triggered a migraine, and the various 5 or so other random ones throughout the month. I never IN MY ENTIRE LIFE remember a break of pain of more than 3 days! That is no life. If these drugs ever stop working, I will go for something newer and stronger. I'm done fighting, now I just want to enjoy the life I lost!

Sent by Myra | 5:21 PM | 2-13-2008

I find my migraines appear when I experience elevated levels of stress for a prolonged period of time, maybe a week or two. For example, two stressful weeks at work may set it off. I do what I can to keep my stress level in check.

Sent by Eric | 5:44 PM | 2-13-2008

Another vote for chiropractic care. After 9 migraines in 3 weeks, a friend demanded I see her chiropractor. After the first week of treatment, I went 6 weeks without pain. I still get them occasionally but the pain isn't nearly as intense. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider this option.

Sent by Jan C | 9:22 PM | 2-13-2008

After reading the comments here, I realize I am one of the lucky ones--my heart goes out to all of you. I am writing with the hope that something I say might help someone else.

I was able to (more or less) solve my migraine problem by keeping a journal (started in desperation after I began to average 17 to 21 headaches a month).

I was misdiagnosed for years--I thought I had severe sinus problems. It was agony to have so many headaches--my quality of life was pretty low and it affected my ability to work (I had a fairly high powered stressful job). I was also very cranky and often emotional due to the pain. My symptoms did not include auras, but I usually felt extremely cold (especially my extremities) and nausceous.

Having a migraine headache is bad, but I also experience a distinct "hangover" effect (mentioned by someone else in this blog). For me the hangover includes extreme fatigue and physical weakness, excessive emotionality, and an inability to think clearly. The hangover period lasts a day or two after the initial headache has gone away.

I found few people understood or empathized and so I avoided telling anyone about my problem. I think a majority of people link migraines with "craziness." This is a real shame.

Anyway, with my journal I was able to gain some insight into my potential triggers (many seem related): weather change, HORMONES (why don't doctors tell women that birthcontrol pills can cause migraines!!!!), anything that upsets my sinuses (smoke, pollen, pollution, excessive heating or airconditioning, a bad cold etc), dehydration (especially after intense exercise), rapid altitude changes, lack of food or sleep, intense emotion (losing my temper for example), wine with sulfites.

I moved to a place with minimal weather change and I fixed the hormone problem. I also watch my stress levels and what I eat. If I do get a headache, I take Imatrex, which has worked well for me--cures all but the "hormonal" headaches which are less and less frequent, perhaps due to age.

Despite the fact that I consider myself "cured," I have recently been denied insurance even though now (5 years later) I have only occasional headaches (one every 3 to 6 months I think) and they are controlled. This is a CRIME!

Best wishes to all of you.

Sent by alison | 1:22 AM | 2-14-2008

I once went deaf from a migraine. All I could hear were the s's in people's words. That one was brought on by my first (and last) red wine. I went to the emergency room very sick once -- they thought it was meningitis and tried to do a CAT scan, but I couldn't lie still for the scan. Years later I was sick in the same way and realized it was a migraine. Sometimes I have migraines with no headache pain. I can't be on beta blockers, I've tried things like Zomig and Maxalt, which don't seem to work and make me feel crappy all over. The best chance I have is to take Excedrin Migraine early on -- I don't get the rebound headache as others do. I miss 1/2 day of work at least every two weeks. But I most often get migraines on the weekend. My boss commented on my frequent absences last week. All I can tell him is that I get migraines. I've very rarely sick for many days in a row, but I frequently have migraines. If I'm lucky, I'll vomit and feel better. One night a friend's shy cat came out and stayed with me while I suffered from a migraine. She went from room to room with me. I asked her if she was God. When I was better, she went back into hiding.

Sent by Karen G. from Rochester, NY | 10:51 AM | 2-14-2008

I listened in earnest to your broadcast, I am a 30year migraine sufferer. My mother was too. I found the right medication to end the aura and help the headache. I have noticed the change in magnitude and amount of hedaches over the years and just when I felt they were down to less that 6 a year in NY, I moved to Denver. The increase is awful and I believe it's due to weather changes, as soon as the clouds roll in or a storm is looming, I get the aura and only my prescription will work. The altitude here definitey must effect me in a negative way.

Sent by Christine Goodfellow | 1:53 PM | 2-14-2008

I'm intrigued by the comment about Botox. In 2000 I was hospitalized for ten days due to migraine/headaches. Finally a pain specialist tried trigger-point injections of Botox. Sixteen tiny injections in the temple, scalp, and neck areas. This subsided the pain and migraines; relaxing the muscles enough to get over this attack. I now take Neurontin (800mg-3X a day) as a preventative. Just curious..do you know anyone who canstantly says they have a 'migraine', yet you know they truly don't know what a true migraine is (because the rest of are incapacitated and aren't able to talk about it). Can you read by a persons face whether they get migraines because it takes one to know one?

Sent by grMickey123 | 6:18 PM | 2-14-2008

I have suffered for 32 years. my first migraine was when i was 18. i thought i was dying of a brain tumor. they started with a vengeance that lasted years until i went to a headache clinic 6 years ago and got on NAdolol and Paxil and within a month i was withiout constant headaches. i still get them but not nearly as severe or frequent. i really understand the hell that migraine sufferers go thru and A MIGRAINE is NOT JUST A LITTLE HEADACHE!!

Sent by Michel Brown | 6:54 PM | 2-14-2008

In the last couple of years I have heard more and more success stories through my company on the use of bio-identical progesterone cream to help alleviate or eliminate migraine headaches. Over and over again, people (particularly women) complain about debilitating migraines associated with their hormonal cycles. Many don't have migraines during pregancy and that is when our progesterone levels are at their highest. There is a lot of information out there about the use of natural progesterone (one source is JohnLeeMD.com). It is also very inexpensive and readily available(independent distributors, health food stores, compounding pharmacies).

Sent by Louise Cheo | 8:16 PM | 2-20-2008

I had struggled with 'atypical' migraines for years. The irregular monthly two to three day bouts of extreme nausea, vomiting and exhaustion seemed to rule my life. I worked in health care with very little opportunity to regulate my daily routine. When I did have a day off I tried to avoid all the known 'triggers'. I tried everything, every doctor a medical drug trial. Nothing worked until menopause kicked in. Immediately I felt like a new person with much more energy. FANTASTIC.
I shiver when I recall the taste of those impending episodes. I hope I never have to suffer them again.

Sent by Elizabeth Ridgley | 2:31 PM | 2-21-2008

I have had migraines since I was a very young child. When I was in 6th grade I became a vegetarian and stayed one for 15 years, till last year when I went on a migraine elimination diet where I basically took away all the suspect foods and then slowly brought them back. I learned what many of you know by now, MSG is not just on the label but also in many different forms. I found I had been poisoning myself with MSG in ingredient forms such as: "soy protein" 'soy sauce' "natural favoring," "additives," "favors" and other. I Thought I was wise to my triggers, going to bed at the same time, never drinking (I'm 27 and I've never been drunk), avoiding smells and flashing lights, little did I know that MSG was in practically every soup, every chip, every sauce and certainly in all those vegetarian patties. Now my migraines have gone down from every other week to once every four weeks. I dream about passing menopause and being done with migraines but till then, since I've gone through all the different class of drugs I'm thinking about Botox. I was encouraged by what others have said on this blog. Please to other who suffering with migraines be sure you are looking out for MSG in all its tricky forms.

Sent by Allison | 11:59 AM | 3-11-2008

I have near-daily migraines that are sometimes resistant to even the strongest drugs, including triptans and narcotics (which I use VERY sparingly).

My neurologist prescribed Maxalt last year. Amazing! Within 20 minutes, I went from suicidal to pain-free. The catch? My insurance did not cover this drug, so each pill was $20.

My doctor switched me to Replax, which my plan limits to 1 a day. But there are many days when I need 2 ... so I suffer with that knife stabbing into my right eye for hours on end.

I dip into my oxycodone reluctantly ... 2 mg... 5 mg.. and even that does not work ...


Sent by Patience | 2:33 PM | 3-30-2008

Wow, I'm so glad I found this website. Thanks to all of you who have posted your stories, tips, and comforting words. I have been suffering migraines since 2nd year university (1991), and regularly (varying from 3/month to 3/week) since 2001. I have tried alternative medicine, restricted diets, intensive regular excercise (I still run 4/week), yoga, chiropractic, avoiding triggers (which is sometimes really hard when things like hormones and weather are triggers). I have tried an array of meds, but have settled on Almogram (abortive, works very well for me) which is a brother to Maxalt taken as soon as my first predictors appear (sore neck, feeling very cold and grumpy) combined with 100mg oral Diclofenac (prescription) painkiller. If I feel anything after 20 mins, I shove in a Diclofenac sup. up.... this usually makes me feel pretty stoned, but after having had pain so bad it made me want to kill myself, litterally, I refuse to go through it anymore. As for other triggers, I haven't heard anyone talking about menstrual migraines (sorry if I missed it). I get hit one day before and one day after my period starts. Every time. Sometimes I get a bonus one 1/2 way through my cycle. Anyone else have this?? I tried going on the pill (BIG MISTAKE!!!!) and had a 9-day killer migraine. I like the idea of a restricted diet, but I sometimes think that the list is SO long that following it can be a 'headache'. In addition to the foods on dr. B's list: Caffeine
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Processed meats
Cheese, especially aged cheese
Nuts and legumes
Alcohol, especially red wine, dark liqueurs, and champagne
Citrus fruits
Onions, especially when raw
Soy products
You could add strawberries, eggs, shellfish, non-organic meat or butter (because it can be full of estrogen, http://www.preventcancer.com/press/editorials/march24_97.htm), another trigger. External triggers; weather, smells, light/sun, grass, changes in barometric pressure. Stress, relaxation, sleeping too much/little, smoke, excessive noise... did I miss anything? Oh yeah, leaning over too long (I have very low blood pressure). Also, migraines seem awfully like altitude sickness, does anyone know more about a possible connection?? I read once about oxygen therapy, has anyone tried that? http://www.baromedical.ca/conditions/condition_migraine.html
Oh, also putting an icepack at the back of my head just above my neck also helps to relieve some pain. Hope this was helpful to somebody :-) Caro

Sent by Caro | 5:49 AM | 5-16-2008

I started having migraines when I was 9 years old. They seem to be related to hormone cycles, cigarette smoke and sunshine. Stress of course is a major contributing factor. I have visual auras with the headaches, presenting as a "out of sync" feeling, then noticing that every image that should show in the right hemisphere of my visual field is blank. My test is to look at the face of a round clock or to stretch one of my hands out in front of to see if half of my hand is missing. It is bizzare and unsettling each time it happens. I had two major strokes, the first in 1990 and the second in 1991 both in July. I have seen the finest neurologists available; all conclude the same diagnosis--migraine syndrome.

So--take care of yourself, you are the only one who knows what is happening to your body. I was disabled completely for two years, and thank God I am fully functional and wiser now.

Migraines are serious business.

Sent by Marilyn Hillsman | 4:53 PM | 5-23-2008

I have been getting migraines w/aura for 30 years. Maxalt is a lifesaver for me when I get one, though I really want them to stop. I have tried approximately 30 different preventive medications, chiroprator, magnesium/natural progesterone and many other different vitamins, botox for migraines, acccupunture.... the list goes on. I try to avoid all the triggers (which I haven't found mine except for menstration), but there is one item in here I haven't seen mentioned. PFO (long medical name). Look it up on line but it basically is a hole in the heart. It contributes to migraines and can cause stroke. People are basically born with PFO. I found out I had it through testing because my niece, nephew and cousin have PFO. Hard to get insurance to pay for the procedure to fix it until you get a stroke (doesn't seem preventive to me). Studies are supposedely not complete (Cleveland Clinic) that proves that this procedure to fix PFO's will stop migraines (though proven in England). Something to think about.

Sent by P. Marshall | 4:20 PM | 6-13-2008