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Migraine w/Aura or something else??
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Migraine w/Aura or something else??

Okay, this is my first post here, but I am quite a regular in the Anxiety forum (as I have GAD too, although it is pretty much under control). The reason I point that out is because my question more than likely comes from my moderate hypochondria caused by my GAD.

Here goes: I had my first weird experience with (what my doctor later diagnosed as) a migraine about a year ago. I was cleaning the house and suddenly got this weird visual disturbance. The best way to describe it is like if you are outside on a really bright day with no sunglasses on and come inside and cannot see for a while - blindspots and darkness, etc. When I realized that I had not been outside and that this thing was not going away, I started to have a panic attack  (due to my GAD/panic, of course). I went in the bedroom and layed on the bed and ever weirder things started happening. I started seeing the classic zig-zaggy, wiggly, blue and red lines in my left-side peripheral vision (now along with the blind spots i was still getting). No matter what I did, it would not go away, even shutting my eyes. I was still coherent and was able to talk to my wife; however, I was still having a full -fledged panic attack and experiencing symptoms of that. I thought I was having a stroke. (I was 28 at the time by the way, now 29).

This lasted 30-45 minutes. Upon the onset of these symptoms, I took a xanax, which is the only medicine I take for my anxiety, and I RARELY take it anymore, unless I have a large panic attack such as this. Since the medicine kicked in and they symptoms went away, I felt well enough to go back and wash the dishes. As I was doing so, I started to get a headache creeping in on my RIGHT temple (opposite of the visual disturbances). The longer I stood there, the worse it got, so I took an advil. Then I started feeling nauseated and really tired and went to lay back down for a bit and started looking on the internet for my sympoms (which I know is not the best thing to do when you are a hypochondriac like I am!). I immediately came across sections talking about classic migraine with aura. It matched almost perfectly as to what I was experiencing. Plus my mother has had migraines for several years now (but is going through menapause and that may be a factor). I called her up and she said she had migraines, but not like I had them. She just got the bad headaches that caused sensitivity, etc. Now, I wouldn't say that my migraine is the WORST headache that I have ever had, it is just, well - different is the best way to describe it. My head feels more "pressure" throughout more so than a throbbing stabbing headache like I usually get.

By the way, once I stopped surfing the net, I laid down with the TV on low and sort of went to sleep. I didn't really fall asleep, but rather laid there and was more in like a deep meditation or something - just trying to get fully relaxed. When I finally got up, they headache was going away. It eventually went away about 2 hours later and I was okay (aside from the anxiety); however, I was really tired, physically my body was heavy- like I had taken a lot more of my xanax than I did. I am unsure if this was related to my medicine or the headache itself. (each time I start having the aura, I take a xanax and have this feeling each time, so I am not sure what it is really related to).

I went to the doctor just to be safe and he quickly diagnosed me with classic migraine with aura. More exactly, I mentioned that I found info about it online and that my mom has migraines (he is also her doctor) and he agreed with me that is what it was.

All in all, this has happened to me 4 times in the past year, with the last happening last night. Nothing different about last night except that there was not so much of the zig-zaggy lines, but rather deep blind spots for about an hour. I still have a slightly lingering (but barely noticeable) headache. I slept really good too.

I am not sure what any triggers I may have are. I eat all the same foods most of the time (although, we did eat some new crock pot beef stew last night about 2 hours before this incident) and do not drink but maybe 6 beers in an entire year - no wine.  I do eat cheese a lot, but do not recall eating any on the days of any of my migraines. I am also getting over a sinus infection that was caused by allergies a few days ago. My upper respiratory area was still raw from the post nasal drip yesterday. I am not sure if it is related, but I have bad hayfever (but only a few times) during the spring and late summer. I have also noticed that my migraines have occured only between end of february through early august. I do smoke (which I am desperately trying to stop) and do not exercise much at all (I do play with my kids, which is a little anyway!) . I am not overweight and am pretty healty otherwise. I have also been diagnosed with BPPV (benign promixal positional vertigo?) and have had a perforated eardrum (on the left side) about 6 years ago. I also tend to get A LOT of wax buildup in that ear as well. (not sure if this has anything do with this or not).

So my question is this - does this sound like it is more than likely what it is presented to be - migraines with aura? Should I be worried that it is anything else at all? I read last night at one source that unilateral migragraines usually switch sides and a doctor consult should be made if the migraine is always on the same side. In my case, it always is - aura on the left and headache on the right. This does not sound like an accurate suggestion, am I correct in thinking that? Does anyone else always get migraines in the same pattern?

One final note. I get headaches (varying in intesity, but usually mild to moderate and can be alleviated with one 200 mg advil or aleve - occaisionally I get severe headaces that are throbbing, but without any aura or other symptoms). I attribute this to caffeine (hopefully this is what the main cause is). I drink ALOT of caffeine - nearly a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper a day. I know that this is bad both for my headaches and my anxiety, but it is my one and only true vice (besides tobacco). Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hi,

I just have a few questions to clarify some points:

Aside from xanax , are you taking other medications ( antidepressants?)

Also, are there any other associated symptoms like numbness, nausea and vomiting , slurring of speech?

You have mentioned that this( migraines ) happens about 4 times in a year , is this correct?  Would you be able to point out any possible triggers?

Do the migraines occur at a specific time each year?
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337492_tn?1212462436
I suffer migraine with aura and have for 15 years.  Caffeine is a trigger and that was one of the first things I cut back on.  I also can not use Aspertame, msg and certain food additives.  Also frozen stir fry kits always bring on a headache...strange. If I cook it fresh, no problem.  I discovered a "cure" for my migraines about three years ago.  I used to suffer a few times a week and now I only get a hand full throughout the year, usually brought on by stress or one of my deep depressive episodes (I am bipolar).  Anyhow, my nurse practioner told me to take 250mg of Magnesium twice a day (morning and night)  and boom, my migraines are null and void now! YIPPEEE.....  So, give it a try!  take care.
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299912_tn?1341626700
No, I do not take any antidepressants at all. I used to take some when I first got my GAD and after a couple years, I decided that I was only masking the problem, not dealing with it. I hated being a slave to the medicine. That being said, I also rarely take the xanax - only when I really need it. A bottle of 20 lasts me about 4-5 months. The only other thing that I take is advil or aleve when I have a headache.

There are no other symptoms except slight nausea, and then only sometimes. I have never vomited when I have the migraines.

Yes, this happens about 4 times a year. And in fact, I am getting that info from the fact that I have only been having them for about a year and have had 4. They have all been between February and August. (3 last year and one this february - a few days ago).

I cannot pinpoint a trigger at all. While I know that caffeine causes headaches in general, I am not sure that this is a trigger for me because I drink caffeine every single day and get these migraines so infrequently that the two do not connect.

I eat plenty of asian food and other things that have msg in it (salt and pepper chips) and cannot link the two there either. However, I did eat a banquet crock-pot meal (beef stew) about 2 hours before I had my last migraine. My wife had already thrown the package away so I was unable to check out the ingredients to make a note of them (to keep track for next time). By the way, if a trigger is encountered, do the migraines occur within a certain time frame. For instance, if I ate something for breakfast, could it cause a migraine in the evening, or is it usually shortly after eating (within a few hours).

Would it be a good or bad idea to eat the same thing to see if I get it again? While this is not desirable, it may help me narrow a trigger down? Thanks so much for your help.

Mike
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hi Mike,

At this point, I am thinking more of the auras you have previously described. The aura lasted for 45 minutes on that first episode.Were there other episodes after that and do the auras present similarly? I can not find a correlation between auras and sinus or allergic problems.The allergies and sinus problems ( also ear problems) may explain the headaches but not the visual symptoms that accompany your headaches.

Were there episodes when you only experienced the aura and there was no subsequest headache?

Or were there times when the visual symptoms last for more than an hour?

A cranial CT scan, EEG, coagulation factor levels , cardiac evaluation and assessment of neck vessels may be necessary. This sounds like a bout of migraines with aura but we just need to rule out other problems that may aslo lead to headaches.

Now, I do not want your to worry too much about this. I suggest you relax and spend time with family and friends.Exercise daily and take things one step at a time.This sounds like a benign headache and migraines with aura is a primary differential But as always, a complete work up may be necessary for any new onset headaches.

With regards to testing possible triggers, this may not be wise to do since your migraines have been associated with visual symptoms .Thank you for your thorough answers.

Do keep us posted.
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299912_tn?1341626700
Sorry it has taken me so long to write back, I have been so busy.

To answer your questions:

Yes, there have been 4 other such instances where I get the aura, they always present exactly the same and I always have a headache afterwards.

No, I have never gotten aura without a headache afterwards. And no, the visual symptoms last no more than 30-45 minutes (to be honest the first may not have even been 45 minutes, it may have just seemed like it because I was freaking out!).

I plan on going to the doctor soon; however, there is one problem - no insurance. I am not even sure when I will be able to get insurance either. Hopefully I can make it until then. Thanks and have a great day!

Mike
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hi,

Thanks for keeping us posted .

With the way you described your headaches and the associated symptoms, this sounds like a migraine headache with aura.

The classic migraine headaches may usually present with visual symptoms that may last for less than an hour.Actually, a criteria for migraine auras state that these auras should not be present for greater than an hour. Also, it is possible to get the auras without the headaches.In your case however, the symptoms are usually associated with headaches.

I know you were worried about this but at this point there seems to be no need for unnecessary worrying.You may discuss this with your physician so that your headaches be properly classified and managed.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, I am so glad to have read about the aura's  I have a headache sometimes and I believe that some seem to be migraines,  Today my eyes felt funny, like a pressure like under water feeling.  Later I could see a strange zig zaggy bright lite sort of rounded out of my left eye, it kept getting worse,and I have panic attacks also,  well getting scared made it worse it seemed..  I had never heard of aura headaches, so I looked up wavy vision and of couarse I found this site,  When you try to tell someone your symptoms, they sound like you are crazy, it is nice to know that I am not the only one, and it makes me not afraid.  I do have a bad headache now,... I may have been working too long on the PC.  Thanks everyone for your input.  I feel much better not thinking I am going to die.,  LOL
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Avatar_n_tn
am 28 yrs old I have this happen to me several times a year after my vision comes back to normal i get a headache i get so scare of this episodes happening i hate them i hate to go out by myself cause am so afraid of having an episode when am out this had been happening for the past 3 years had my eyes check they are ok have had a ct scan i don't know what else to do hould i go ahead and mention this to my dr
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Avatar_f_tn
I had classic migraine with aura every two weeks. In May I started taking magnesium glycinate every day...200mg 3 times a day or 250 mg twice a day. I use KAL brand. Haven't had one since. Good luck.
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