OT: Migraines: Myth Vs. Reality...

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by kjfms, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Migraine is much more than a simple headache it is a disease.

    Having suffered from chronic migraines for years -- I get really irritated when anyone refers to Migraine disease as "just a headache" when in reality the headache is a symptom of migraine.

    Here is some information from MAGNUM www dot migraines dot org for anyone interested.



    Migraine is a true organic neurological disease. A Migraine is caused when a physiological (not psychological) trigger or triggers cause vasodilatation in the cranial blood vessels, which triggers nerve endings to release chemical substances called neurotransmitters, of which the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HTT) is an important factor in the development of Migraine.

    Dr. Saper stated in his endorsement letter to M.A.G.N.U.M. that

    "[Migraine] is not a psychological or psychiatric disease but one which results from biological and physiological alterations."

    Similarly, Dr. Fred D. Sheftell, M.D., Director and Founder for the New England Center for Headache specifically stated in his letter of endorsement that "Migraine is absolutely a biologically-based disorder with the same validity as other medical disorders including hypertension, angina, asthma, epilepsy, etc.

    Unfortunately, there have been many myths perpetrated in regard to this disorder.

    The most destructive of which are 'It is all in your head,' 'You have to learn to live with it,' and 'Stress is the major cause.'"

    Misdiagnosis of Migraine as a psychological disorder can lead to a doctor prescribing unnecessary, counterproductive, and even dangerous medication.

    It is common for a Migraineur to be diagnosed, for example, with clinical depression and prescribed unnecessary drugs, leaving the Migraines unaffected.

    The continued presence of the Migraines may lead the doctor to believe that the Migraineur is unable to "handle" problems and is still "depressed", leading to continued unnecessary drug treatment ... and so on.

    As mentioned above, the Migraine disease is induced by various trigger mechanisms.

    Trigger mechanisms can be broken down into two primary categories: uncontrollable and controllable.

    The Migraine triggers usually work in combinations.

    Remember, Migraine is a disease that involves a heightening of one's senses, all of one's senses.

    A Migraineur is more sensitive to his or her surroundings, including light, sound, smells, taste (chemicals in foods), and touch (including the touch of the atmospheric pressure on one's body).

    Awareness of one's environment is critical for a Migraineur.

    A good example of an uncontrollable Migraine trigger is weather patterns.

    Germany, for example, offers a telephone number that people such as weather-sensitive Migraine sufferers can call to find out the risk to their health of that day's weather pattern.

    A recent study entitled "The Effects of Weather on the Frequency and Severity of Migraine Headaches" conducted in Canada arrived at the following conclusions:

    1) "Phase 4" weather, characterized by a drop in barometric pressure, the passing of a warm front, high temperature and humidity and oftentimes rain, is closely associated with higher frequency and severity of Migraine attacks.;

    2) a high humidex discomfort index during the summer is associated with an increased frequency of Migraine attacks;

    3) wind from the southeast was shown to be associated with more attacks than wind from any other direction; and

    4) a number of Migraine sufferers may be sensitive to extreme rates of barometric pressure changes.

    Another common uncontrollable trigger is the menstrual cycle.

    As explained by Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein, M.D., F.A.C.P., Co-Director, The Comprehensive Headache Center at Germantown Hospital and Medical Center, Migraine usually develops around the time of the first menstrual period, called the menarche.

    The Migraine appears to be the result of falling levels or reduced availability of estrogen.

    Migraine sometimes becomes worse in the first trimester of pregnancy, but many women are Migraine-free later in their pregnancy.

    Menstrual Migraine is often more difficult to treat than other types of head pain.

    Women who have Migraines only with their period can often achieve relief by taking preventive (prophylactic) medication just before their period begins.

    If severe menstrual Migraine cannot be effectively controlled by any of these medications, hormonal therapy is a possibility.

    Controllable triggers, on the other hand, include bright light, chemical smells, second-hand smoke, particular alcohols such as red wine and some hard alcohols such as scotch, foods that are known vasodilator such as fish, some chocolate, aged cheese, and foods which contain nitrates and/or the radical vasodilator MSG.

    Therefore, if one avoids controllable triggers during Migraine-weather or menstrual cycles, one may be able to escape a Migraine attack.

    Another tip: take abortive medication prescribed for Migraine at the earliest sign of a Migraine attack. Oftentimes, if one waits to take the medication until the attack has matured, the medication may prove practically ineffective.

    The drugs commonly prescribed to Migraineurs fall into two groups: abortive and preventative (prophylactic).

    There are some common problems and adverse effects associated with a host of the medications.

    Some of the more pronounced are: from abortive drugs, dizziness from Stadol, tolerance to barbiturates, rebound headache from overuse of Ergotamine and over-the-counter non-narcotic analgesics (e.g., Tylenol, aspirin and NSAIDS); and from preventative drugs, beta-blockers and calcium channel-blockers can trigger headaches/Migraines.

    Get to know your pharmacist, he or she can be an important source of information.

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen :)

  2. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    They would like to blame everything on stress, wouldn't they. So called scientists are even trying to blame our illness on our mother's stress level in the whomb. That one really slays me.

    I agree w/ this. I'm not a chronic migraine sufferer, but I've had a few doozies. I had to learn to distinguish one type of headache pain from another to avert a runaway migraine. It is true, if you don't treat it before its really bad, then it can't really be treated anymore. It was pretty easy to figure out a real stress headache, which I used to get too. A stress headache will lighten as soon as I let myself relax, migraines absolutely do not.

  3. maedaze

    maedaze New Member

    amen, amen, I'm a fellow long time sufferer and I have to say, most doctors attitudes are atrocious (can't spell!), but you know what i mean.

    How many times i have wished to be able to hold on to their arm and give them a glimps of the pain that i suffer every day.. That would shut them up i know and take us far more seriously.

    Thanx for the article, am going to print it off to take with me to the doc.. have got a new one, so the more info i can take with me the better,

    Cheers maedaze
  4. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    Great article!!!!!!!!!!!!!Thanks for the info.
  5. abcanada

    abcanada New Member

    That was a great article. I'm a severe migraine sufferer. I too have been guilty of calling it headache, I think I do that so that others can somewhat relate without it sounding like I'm exagurating. In particular to those who don't really care how I feel, but I have to see them anyways(Inlaws!!!). I highly agree though it is definately a disease/condition that hit me with a ton of bricks one day. I've suffered alot ever since.
  6. lenasvn

    lenasvn New Member

    Migraines run in my family. I developed them at age 3. My mother had 2 strokes triggered by- migraine! So much for the stress and depression theory.

    M.A.G.N.U.M is a superb site. I had an employer read the site with info for employers, and he was very respectful after that. he ordered me to go home if I had one. "This is not to play with" he often said! Bless his heart,,,LOL!
    [This Message was Edited on 10/13/2006]
  7. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    Migranes run in my family. I remember when I was a very little girl, mom would tell me to lie with the side of my head that was hurting down on the pillow. I remember observing that that didn't make it better. We'd often be laid out with migranes at the same time. My brothers have not been affected by this, for which I am thankful.

    Weather has given me headaches since... always. My brothers used to call me the Weather Witch because I could acurately predict the weather up to a day in advance going by how my head was feeling. Another trigger for me is eating too much chocolate. I notice the article saying that CERTAIN kinds of chocolate are worse - if only I knew which ones! My aunt Monique gets migranes from chocolate, and I do too sometimes. My worst headache this year was from eating a box of black licorice.

    I don't know if anyone else who is weather-affected gets this, but do you ever get a headache that gets worse when you stand up? Like, you holler if you have to move because the pain gets too suddenly intense, but if you lie down and stay still you don't feel the pain as much?
    ((xx)) Shannon
  8. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Hi Jeanne - Yes they like to blame everything on stress...sigh and stress does not cause my migraines which are triggered by the weather/barometric pressure and I do have certain food and food combinations which trigger mine.

    Hi Maedaze -- I agree with you some physicians need to do more research in this area but it has come a long way compared to what it was years ago. What gets me is just regular peoples attitude and ignorance when it comes to migraine.

    A few years ago mine changed to daily and I quite throwing up with them and I am lucky that I am usually able to work with them. I can honestly say there have been a few co-workers which I would have loved to slap...LOL

    Hi woofmom - Thanks for reading :)

    Hi abcanada - I call them headaches as well but there is a difference we know that it is so much more than just a headache. unfortunately most people do not realize just how dangerous they can be and that our whole body suffers not just our head...LOL

    Hi lenasvn - It is great that your employer read information on the M.A.G.N.U.M. site not many will take the time and I wish everyone who knows someone who suffers would read that site -- it is great.

    I am so sorry about you mother. I worry a little about stroke because I have so many attacks. They run in my family as well maternal grandmother, a couple of aunts and uncles, as well as some cousins and both sisters.

    My grandmother had an odd trigger which I share with her -- watermelon -- I always thought that was an odd trigger and I haven't tasted watermelon in so many years but I love the smell of it. I won't even chew watermelon flavored gum because I am so afraid of what it will do...LOL

    Hi Shannon -- I hate the weather related ones and yes I too can tell the weather a day or two in advance. I seem to do OK with dark chocolate more so than the others. You might try keeping a diary.

    Yes I have a hard time managing my life with the weather related migraines but it seems they just come no matter what I do. I have had them for so long that they are just a regular part of my life...that sucks doesn't...LOL

    Thanks again to all,

    Karen :)
  9. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    The "cluster headaches" I experienced were first triggered by aspartame and then air fresheners. I avoid aspartame completely and stay away from any type of fragrance as much as humanly possible. I especially appreciate the part about seratonin because there is a connection between it and aspartame converting to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is in almost everything. I wonder how many heart attacks and strokes were and are triggered by these poisons. Probably more than we'll ever know.
  10. Redwillow

    Redwillow New Member

    Thanks you so much Karen for this article. I have had migraines for years and my GP used to just tell me to 'relax'.

    When I changed to a new GP he quickly diagnosed my migraines for what they were. I now take amitriptylene to help me sleep at night for my FM, the good side effect is that I have a lot less migraines!

    When migraine does hit (for me in the middle of my menstral cycle when ovulation occurs) I take imitrex makes the migraine a lot less severe.

    However I have never been told that migraines was a disease by a doctor! I have never really researched them either, not giving them the importance they deserve. I didn't even know that migraines can and do cause strokes! or that people with migraines have a much higher risk of strokes!!! Something else I need to talk to my doctor about!

    hugs Redwillow
  11. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

  12. maedaze

    maedaze New Member

    I get so many different headaches and migraines, but i always know the 'barometer' ones, and they are the ones that like you say DON'T MOVE, and they are worse getting up and the blood starts to circulate. it's like my blood turns to syrup, my whole body aches and my head pounds so bad that all i can do is lie there.

    I didn't think wind made any difference, but now i wonder if it does when it comes from certain directions??

    I havn't been able to connect any food with any triggers although sometimes mine are bought on by not enough sugar. and 2 sugars in a cup of tea can sometimes help.
    My aunty's migraines are triggered by dried fruit, sultanas, raisons, even dried pinaple etc.. so like you kjfms with the watermelon, i stay away from dried fruit,, well just in case!!

    I have family on both sides, my mothers and fathers that suffer migraines, my brother escaped, my sister suffers now and again and i seem to have copped the lot!!

    What a lottery to win!!
  13. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    OMG woofmom I don't know which is worse migraine or cluster headaches -- either is pure hell.

    I lost a job years ago because of cluster headaches. I have always thought for years that something odd was going on in my head and when I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor in January I said "I knew something was up".

    It just makes me wonder if all of head symptoms are related to the PT.

    Oh good grief Redwillow don't you just love it if only it were that easy to just "Relax" and get rid of these...LOL Yes it is amazing how a lot of physician still treat migraines as just a headache -- gosh I just wish they would do a little more reading to stay current...sigh

    What a lottery indeed Maedaze!!! Aren't we all so lucky...LOL

    If only we could win the lottery then we could pay for better health care...LOL

    I don't blame you for staying away from the dried fruit -- just in case. I would to if I thought they was a chance of triggering a migraine.

    The barometric pressure migraine is so odd for me because it varies with directions of a storm and is affected by the temperature oh you know just so many factors but they do wipe me out mentally and physically...

    and add in the FMS and OMG -- talk about a whammy on the body and mind.

    One of my sisters can not drink apple juice she get so ill because of it.

    Isn't is strange how triggers are so different for everyone I guess it's like these DDs -- we are all so different yet the same...LOL

    Thanks again to all,

    Karen :)
  14. Redwillow

    Redwillow New Member

  15. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    I just have to tell you that for your age (not being condescending) you are one of the most empathetic and sympathetic persons I have seen.

    It is my wish that you will remain this way and not become as jaded as I...LOL ;)

    Hi Redwillow -- Thanks for the bump :)


  16. Redwillow

    Redwillow New Member

    Hi again Karen

    I came back here hoping for more people's inputs on migraines. Between the FM, Costo, IBS, migraines, restless legs.... I am one big mess! LOL

    I am trying to find out more about migraines and their association with the eyes. I don't get zig zags or coloured light but I do get what I think is tunnel vision. I feel like my vision is blurred in the sides and I can only see straight ahead.

    I also get severe pain in my neck shoulders and back and I don't know if that is the migraine or my FM flaring. When the migraine is over I often have a 1 or 2 day what I call hang over. I feel really dull witted, my lower back is extremely stiff and the light sensitivity and noise sensitivity is still there.

    It doesn't take much to make the migraine rebound and start all over again.

    Do you have similar symptoms?

    hugs Redwillow
  17. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Hi Redwillow -- I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Have you been to a good neurologist? One might be able to help a little.

    Yes I do have some of those symptoms in a way. I get a very painful stiff neck on the left side and the migraine can be on the left or in the center of my forehead but it is never on the right -- for me.

    I do know what you mean about the hungover feeling and being dull mentally. It makes it very hard for me having to work in medical terminology...talk about a challenge!!!

    I do have the light sensitivity but no zigzag or tunnel vision but do know people who do. I do get what I tracers -- like if you slowly wave you hand in front of you face it leaves a trail. I can not drive when I have these too confusing.

    It does sound like migraine to me because it will and does affect the whole body.

    I hope you feel better soon. You might want to look for a neurologist if you do not have one.

    Take care,


    Hi prickles,

    Thank you for asking. I have been kind of bad lately with pituitary tumor related thyroid problems and yes migraines and very tired of it all including the FMS...SIGH

    Oh well, what can you do...LOL

    I hope you are doing well in school. Have you made any friends yet? What are you taking oh I do envy you. I hope you are doing OK or at least hanging in there :)

    Take care,

    Karen :)
    [This Message was Edited on 10/21/2006]
  18. sfrazier

    sfrazier New Member

    I have suffered from migrains for years now. Thankfully my doctor once mentioned it as a headache. I do know that certian kinds of stress do help to bring mine on. I have never really been able to connect it to food or weather but then since I do suffer from depression weather effects my attitude towards how I feel so maybe it is weather that brings on the migrains. I always know when to expect them though cause about a day or two before they start I start seeing little stars or lights or something in my periferal vision. Sure enough 1 or 2 days later I am down with my migrain.

    My doctor has prescribed Immetrix for them which is one of those that you take as soon as you start feeling one coming on. My problem is sometimes I wake up with one and then I am down for a couple of days. Once my migrain passes it is like my whole body has been released from something and the first thing I need is sleep. Thank god my kids all know that when I say I have a migrain they get so quiet you could hear a pin drop which I normally can if I do have a migrain. lol.

    The best way for me to figure it out if it is a headache or a migrain is headaches usually affect the whole head while a migrain is in one spot. At least for me and usually for me it is in my temple and rubbing it only makes it hurt worse. I then know to take my pill.....SueF
  19. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Sorry you suffer from migraines along with the rest of us but it sound like you know your triggers and have found something that works for you and that is great.

    I wish you continued success with you management of migraines.

    Take care,

    Karen :)
  20. redtex

    redtex New Member

    to use at the onset and he says it stops the migraine if he gets to it quick enough. anyone else here or try this. i get the aura so it might help me as i have a little warning.

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