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Heading It Off

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Nov 15, 2013 @ 11:51 am PDT

userpic=headacheI’ve written before, numerous times, about how I’m a migraine sufferer. I’m lucky that my migraines are not severe; they are just dull and annoying. I rarely get any aura; my tell is my eye watering and a single-sided headache. Thankfully, I don’t usually need to hide in a dark room, away from stimuli, curled in a ball as many sufferers do. I can usually continue to work, perhaps at a degraded level, through them. They are, however, frequent and annoying.

My current regime uses a beta blocker (propranolol) and a muscle relaxant (tizanidine) as preventatives, and rizatriptan as my abortive. When I saw my neurologist a few weeks ago, she suggested adding another abortive to the mix: an old-line tricyclic antidepressant. They evidently have an off-label use to help block pain receptors. She recommended either nortriptyline or amitriptyline. I indicated I would research them, because I always have a concern of the effect of any medication on my ability to drive the vanpool, and on my mental acuity (which I need for my job). That’s a primary reason why I’ve never considered either topiramate (Topamax) or divalproex sodium (Depakote) as preventatives — both have significant impacts on mental alertness. Propranolol does just fine, and has the additional side effect of helping keep my blood pressure lower.

This week, I’m in a headache cycle (nearly daily, vs. weekly), and so this morning I reviewed the side effects of both nortriptyline and amitriptyline. Both can make one drowsy, and each has potential side effects that aren’t appealing. I’ve also looked at the reviews for each as a migraine preventative (N, A). Both have a lot of positive reviews. Still, I’m hesitant about anything that monkeys with brain chemistry. So, on the off chance anyone reading this has used them, I’d like to know your experiences. This will serve as input to deciding whether to just keep with what I’m doing, or to add one of these.

 

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My Life as a Barometer

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Oct 15, 2012 @ 5:41 pm PDT

I haven’t done an update on my migraines in a while, so I figured one was due. Part of this was prompted by an interesting article I saw in the papers today–more on that later.

Basically, my headaches have been about the same in intensity, but slightly greater in frequency. If you don’t remember, I tend to get dull headaches on one side: no sensitivity to light or aura, but my eye waters and occasionally they get really bad. For a while I had them somewhat under control, where under control means a light headache every 2-3 weeks.

Recently (read over the summer) they had gotten more frequent, to the point of a light headache every couple of days, or when I was lucky, one a week. Not debilitating, but more distracting. I had noticed that they were worse on nights I had trouble sleeping. On the theory that sleep was related, I had a sleep study done. It showed that I have apnea… and so, as of Saturday night, I have a CPAP machine. Hopefully, once I get used to that, the frequency of headaches will go back down.

What actually prompted this post was an article about a women with 20 year headaches, which they just cured. Her symptoms for her almost continuous headache: “…a headache pretty much every day, and it just varied in severity – whether it was kind of a low-key one that I walked around with or more intrusive…”. The specific symptoms? Dull pain on one side of the head, mixed with periods of severe, shooting pain, eye-lid droop, watery eye and reddening of the eye on that side, and a stuffy nose. It turns out the condition is called Hemicrania continua, and is easily treatable by a well-known strong NSAID, indomethacin.

Now, I have no idea whether this would apply to me. After all, the Wikipedia page indicates the headache is continuous (which mine isn’t)… although the WebMD page notes “Some patients will have these headaches steadily for months or years. In others, the pain will go away for weeks or months.” The more significant factor is noted on the Wikipedia page: “The factor that allows hemicrania continua and its exacerbations to be differentiated from migraine and cluster headache is that hemicrania continua is completely responsive to indomethacin. Triptans and other abortive medications do not affect hemicrania continua.” My headaches do respond to Triptans.

Still, I’m printing a copy of the article, and will ask the neurologist the next time I visit her. It can never hurt to ask.

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Oh, My Aching Head

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Apr 24, 2012 @ 11:32 am PDT

For a change, I have some lunchtime news chum to share–all relating to migraine headaches:

  • Preventing Migraines. New guidelines have been issued regarding using drugs as migraine preventatives. To my eye, there’s not much new here, except perhaps some new drugs. I’ve known for a while that Topamax, Depakote, and propranolol can work as preventatives; I’ve avoided the first two because they can also slow down your thinking processes (Topamax is nicknamed Dopamax for a reason). Still, the list appears to contain some new recommendations. It doesn’t mention that muscle relaxants may also be useful. I know, with respect to migraines, I’m one of the lucky ones: I don’t get aura (only rarely), I don’t have light sensitivity, and I don’t have to go hide in a dark room (well, only very rarely). However, mine are hemispherical (just on one side) and frequent (about every 2-3 weeks).
  • Brain Freeze. An interesting study has shown a connection between brain freeze and migraines. Brain freeze occurs as the blood vessels going to the brain dilate and constrict in order to prevent cold blood from going to the brain; this sensitivity to this is the reason that migraine sufferers are more likely to get brain freeze.
  • Migraines and Racism. Here’s another interesting study. As I noted above, one of the migraine preventatives is propranolol (it is also a common treatment for high blood pressure). A recent study has shown that people who take propranolol are less likely to be racist. A new Oxford University research study found that Propranolol, which works to combat high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines, and a number of heart ailments, affects the same part of the central nervous system that regulates subconscious attitudes on race.

Music: Presumed Innocent (Marcia Ball): You Make Me Happy

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One of those Days

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Apr 04, 2011 @ 8:54 pm PDT

Bleah. Headache Day. That is all.

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Curiously Strong Peppermint Gum

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Aug 02, 2010 @ 5:21 pm PDT

I have recently discovered that Wrigley’s has discontinued Altoids Gum. Now, I find the Pepperment gum to be a wonderful way of stopping a headache, so this makes me very sad. I’ve just gotten a supply through CandyWarehouse.com, but they will eventually run out. So, here’s my question: I need a strong Peppermint gum, not sweet, relatively hard, to use when I can’t get Altoids gum anymore. Suggestions?

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Getting High

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Mar 17, 2009 @ 8:58 pm PDT

As you may have noted from my recent posts, I’m in Colorado Springs on business. Now, I’ve been out to the Springs before, and the altitude here never affected me. But this trip is is just killing me. I’ve had a headache that rarely goes away (including a bad migraine last night, and mini-migraines almost daily)… when I’ve been going 2-3 weeks between migraines at home. I’ve seen my appitite disappearing (tonight I didn’t even finish an 8oz steak at Outback). I’ve had the odd breathing issues (especially today after a fire evacuation drill at the site I was at: four stories of staircases up and down… the up elevators hadn’t returned to normal after the drill). I’ve been tired, but having a hell of a time sleeping.

I’m beginning to think it is the altitude. A local travel magazine indicated that altitude related symptoms include fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, and difficulty sleeping. Before you ask: yes, I’ve been attempting to drink plenty of liquids. Still, I will be really glad when I fly home on Thursday.

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I’m Glad I’m Not The Parents In The Next Room

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Mar 17, 2009 @ 5:53 pm PDT

As you may have figured out, I’m in Colorado Springs on business. From the next room, I’m hearing the sounds of what is obviously a 4-5 year old having a temper tantrum meltdown about how the DOES NOT WANT TO GO wherever they are going.

Boy, am I glad I finally knocked down that 2-day migraine!

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Protected: I Thought I Was Past This…

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Mar 12, 2009 @ 4:37 am PDT

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