Charles W Smith, MD  

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Ten Tips For Overcoming your Headaches

Jun 12, 2009 - 31 comments

chronic headaches









One of our most revered faculty members, Lee Archer, MD, a neurologist, provided a copy of the handout he gives to his headache patients. With his permission, I adapted it for use with my own patients. I thought it was so good that I asked him if I could publish it on my blog so that others could benefit from his advice.

Headaches are incredibly common and usually frustrating for providers. It has become increasingly evident that chronic or frequently occurring headaches are often virtually impossible to identify as either “migraine” or “tension” headaches and often simply are called “chronic headaches”. Treatment often becomes a revolving door of trying new medications that sometimes work, but more commonly don’t. And, even worse, many headache patients gradually simply become dependent on addictive pain medications just to try to cope with their often daily discomfort.

But, there are some really basic things about dealing with chronic headaches that we should never forget to try. So, without further ado, here is his advice:

Ten Steps to Overcoming Your Headaches

There are some things that everyone can do to help their headaches. There are a number of things you can besides just take medication to help their headaches. If someone follows all of these directions, the need for prescription medication is often dramatically reduced if not eliminated.

1. First and foremost, taking pain medication everyday is definitely not a good idea. Daily pain medication tends to perpetuate headaches. This is true for over-the-counter medications like Excedrin and BC powders, as well as prescription medications like Fiorinal, Midrin, and “triptans” like Imitrex, Zomig, Relpax, Frova, etc. Exactly why this occurs is unclear, but it is a well established clinical finding. Anyone who takes pain medications more than twice a week is in danger of perpetuating their headaches. Occasional usage of pain medications several times in one week is permissible, as long as it is not a regular pattern. For instance, using pain medication several days in a row during the perimenstrual period is certainly permissible.

2. Regular exercise helps reduce headaches. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain. These are chemicals that actually suppress pain. I encourage people to aim for at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (like walking or swimming) five days a week if not daily. In addition to helping reduce headaches, this also will prolong your life because of the beneficial effects on your heart.

3. Stress reduction is a definite benefit in reducing headache frequency and severity. Headaches are not caused by stress alone, but can make most headaches worse. There are no easy answers for how to reduce stress. If it is severe, we can consider referral to a therapist for help.

4. Too much or too little sleep can trigger headaches. Pay attention to this, and note whether or not you are tending to trigger headaches from sleeping too little or too much. People differ as to how much sleep is “right” for them.

5. Caffeine can precipitate headaches. I encourage patients to try stopping caffeine altogether for a few weeks, and we can decide together whether or not caffeine might be contributing. Abruptly stopping all caffeine can trigger headaches, too, so try to taper off over a week.

6. NutraSweet (aspartame) can cause headaches in some people. If you are drinking multiple servings/day of beverages containing NutraSweet you might consider trying to stop that, and see if your headaches respond.

7. There are some other foods they may trigger headaches in some people. Usually people learn this very quickly. For instance, red wine will precipitate migraines in many people, and chocolate, nuts, hot dogs and Chinese food triggers headaches in certain cases. I generally don’t advise omitting all of these foods, unless you notice a pattern where these foods are causing headaches.

8. If I give you a prophylactic medication for headaches, you should take it daily, as prescribed. If you have trouble tolerating it, please let me know and we can consider using something else. No prophylactic medication works in every patient with headaches. Generally, each of the medications works in only about 60% of people. Therefore, it is not uncommon to need to try more than one medication in any given patient. We must give any of these medications at least four to six weeks to work before giving up on them. It generally takes that long to be sure whether or not a medication is going to work.

9. Keep a calendar of your headaches. Use a standard calendar and mark the days that you have a headache, how severe it is on a scale of one to ten, what you took for it and how long it lasted. Also note anything that you think could have precipitated it. By keeping this over time we can tell if our efforts are helping.

10. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 400mg daily helps prevent migraines in many people. It comes in 100mg size tablets, so you will need to take four of them each day. You can add it to anything else we try. You do not need a prescription for it.

Do you have chronic headaches? If so, I challenge you to apply these ten principles, then come back and provide a comment on this blog post!

Thanks and good luck!

* MedHelp note - For #9, you can track your headaches using the Migraine & Headache tracker at http://www.medhelp.org/trackers/list/89

*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*

Post a Comment
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by twehner5, Jun 13, 2009
OH, Dr. Smith, Thank you!  This is SOOO interesting because I have suffered (not like some people!) from migraines since I entered puberty.  My migraines are hormonal and I get them with my cycles - and during the early part of my 3 pregnancies, ouch!  Have you ever heard the expression, "At first I was afraid I was going to die; then I was afraid that I wasn't...."?  That was me during the first 13 weeks or so of each pregnancy.

I have a WONDERFUL doctor who has patiently worked with me and my migraines.  I *do* take a prophylactic, daily medication and a triptan as needed.

In the past two years or so, I've enjoyed fewer episodes though.  In reading this blog, you might have explained part of it.  I have lost 70 lbs.  In the process, as you would imagine, I became more physically active than I was before.  I am MORE physically fit than I was in my  20's (I am 45).  I am more physically fit than my 14-year-old dau.!  

MOST recently, I began taking B-complex, and it contains B2.  I even remarked to the friend here on MH who suggested that I start taking B vitamins that I wasn't positive if there was a link, but I felt like I was getting even fewer migraines.  This blog confirms it.  How encouraging.  

I am going to copy this (I don't think you mind) and send it to my sister.  She is guilty of taking WAY TOO MUCH aspirin AND Imitrex.  She is also 54....she needs to quit.  

Thank you again for this helpful and encouraging blog.

Avatar universal
by chasws, Jun 14, 2009
Dear Twehner5

Thanks for your comment.  I am so glad to hear that your headaches are better, and hear confirmatory reports that the items I included in this list are effective in helping them.

Charlie Smith

Avatar universal
by tessakate, Jun 15, 2009
I am new to this site.Yesterday I posted my first query about my early morning fogginess- it isn't really a headache but I never know how else to describe it.Thanks to all who espnded. This morning the fogginess is not too bad compared to last week when I was totally unable to function until about 6pm.

I had no idea these sites existed so  do not feel so alone. Thank you very very much for the wonderful spport.


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by JenB12, Jun 15, 2009
Hi Doctor,

First, thank you very much for posting that list. I think that is a great list of procedures to follow to be healthy in general. I bet if a lot of people followed those they would feel better all around!!!!!

I have chronic daily dull headaches since last August. And i'm pretty confident i follow those rules.  I am a 25 year old female, 5'5" and 105 lbs.

1) I do not take any pain medication. Only medication i take is .1 MG of synthroid for my thyroid.  

2) I seem to have my headaches regardless if i get exercise or not. I used to be more active (in that i would run 6 miles a day), but these days my headaches are keeping me from exercising as much, since when i do begin to jog or start my work out the headache seems to worsen and i get dizzy. I do however walk daily and clean my whole house, certainly that must count. :) My headaches lessen if I am laying down, sometimes i do not notice them until i am up and about.

3) I have had very little stress since i retired from my job as a banker last May.... except the stress that my headaches and over all sense of dysphoria and not feeling well are bringing me.

4) I will be tired regardless if i sleep 8, 9, 10, 12 or more hours... and the headaches will be there no matter how much or little sleep i get. The headaches are worse in the mornings and begin to improve by mid afternoon... I am pretty much out of commission completely until noon. I feel my best in the evening.  My sleep is not uninterrupted sleep.  Also i do sometimes have troubles falling asleep and have starting taking 1mg of melatonin at night and that helps a lot.

5) I used to be an avid coffee drinker but now i drink decaf tea, and not everyday just maybe 2x a week. I, on occasion, will have coffee when out with a friend for brunch but that is about once a month. I do not drink soda either.

6) NutraSweet- i dont use artificial sweetners... for me it's sugar or nothing :)

7) I've been gluten free about a month now to see if that would help... it hasn't.  (My brother has celiac but i don't present any GI symptoms of that, and my antibody test for that came out negative.)

8) no meds. I dont think i've ever had a migraine, just the chronic dull headaches.

9) I already track my headaches in a journal i keep for my thyroid and menstruation. I have pretty much had a headache every day for a year minus a few weeks here and there where i've felt okay.

10) I take a B complex which has a lot of B2, B12, B6. (maybe not 400mg, but still...)

I'm just stumped. I wanted to add something here..

I feel like i have a hangover every single day of my life even if i have not had a drop of alcohol. Furthermore... I've found that in last year and a half, i can no longer tolerate alcohol.... half way though my drink i start feeling hungover and after 2 drinks i am feeling excessivly tired and out of it. I do not get any skin reactions (no redness in the face). It's just as though i skip the drunk- feeling- good part and just go straight to the hangover.... as a result i no longer drink (and if i do it's one drink on a special occasion because these days the general rule of thumb for me is every drink = a day of recovery

Another thing..... I've lost 10 Lbs over the last year without dieting or changing anything. My appetite has decreased. but my activity has decreased also because i'm tired all the time and feeling not well.

Basically my internist says it's not the thyroid because weight loss and chronic headaches are not symptoms of Hypothyroid and i believe that because my headaches and feeling weird and "off" remain regardless of where my numbers seem to be in terms of my TSH, Free T4 etc.

Lastly, I have an older brother (28 years old) who presented the same symptoms in his late teens throughout his 20's. with no relief. He is Celiac and Gluten Free for 10 years and also has Hashimoto Thyroiditis. We both are gluten free and on synthroid.  I really want to know what happened to me. I was a healthy, active, ambitious young lady and now i feel like an old woman out of no where. I am not depressed... I just want my headaches gone.

I'm going for an MRI tomorrow... but i'm not expecting a revelation.

What do you think?

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by 888mom, Jun 16, 2009
looking at the computer screen for too long I find induces headaches too... oh wait, and so many people who work in an office have to stare at a computer screen for a good portion of the day.  Having glasses that reduce glare and then those screen things you can put on the computer screen to reduce glare really lessen the amount of headaches you can get staring at a computer... I guess eye strain.

Other thing that causes my headaches is allergies.  I find that eating certain foods helps my allergies and some foods worsen them.  Cooking with spices and herbs I find helps the allergies.  And sometimes when I get the allergy headaches I make up some hot thai or chinese food (no msg) in my own kitchen so I know what ingredients are going in to the food.  Some good spicy stuff will clear out my sinuses for many hours and get rid of that headache.  Steam helps headaches sometimes too... putting a hot washrag over my forehead.  Boiling some water for some peppermint tea and then putting my face over the steaming tea and inhaling.  

And when all else fails... there is always the ibuprofin/tylenol/aspirin and the allergy meds like Claritin/Allegra.  When it is that time of the month for  me, that is usually when I fall back on medication (for the sake of my husband so he doesn't have to put up with a wife gone postal)

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by 888mom, Jun 16, 2009
Oh... forgot to add... when I get the migraine and it won't go away... I eventually throw up and then my headache is gone within an hour after.  Why does throwing up get rid of the headache?  Is my body fixing itself in some way by needing to go through that step?  

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by megmil, Jun 18, 2009
Hello doctor. I suffer from migraines on a daily basis. I have tried everything to get rid of them and nothing works. I started getting them at sixteen and they continued to get worse and worse. I did not know what they were until I was about 19 and was in the hospital because of it. My doctor thought I needed a shot.

I did not take medication until they were already so bad. Excedrine is the only thing that helps. I have tried everything else. Even prescriptions and they don't really help.

I do exercise as much as possible.

I do have a lot of stress and actually have an anxiety disorder but have seen a councilor and have been on meds for that and it didn't help.

I have already found that too much or too little sleep makes them worse and do watch how much I sleep but even when I do get the right amount I have a migraine.

I have quit drinking caffiene. I only drank pop and pop has sometimes made me feel sick to my stomach so stopped drinking so much. I maybe have half a can about once a week and it has no effect either way.

I have tried finding foods that might cause them and have found none. They do get more intense when I eat too much cheese or eggs but I rarely do anyway.

I do not use nutra sweet and have never used a prophilactic.

I have tried keeping a calendar but it's the same thing everyday and I got tired of just writing the same thing everyday when the journal wasn't helping at all. I wake up with a headach every day and there really is nothing that causes them. The more active I am the worse they get. I do take a walk every day with my son because I know I need exercise but the more active I am the worse they are and it's getting hard to keep getting up to get exercise.

I have not tried the Riboflavin. I dont' know if I can being pregnant but I can sure ask about it.

I must say that I have seen a neurologist and he can't seem to find why I have them. He is pretty sure they are just migraines but doesn't know why I get them. I do have pain in and around my eye and see black spots and have had problems seeing clearly out of that eye and think I may have tendon or ligament damage or something behind that eye and want to get that checked. It is great to hear about what can help. I'm sure it has help many people but I just can't find anything to help me.

They get so bad sometimes i lose balance and vomit and can't see straight and see things that aren't there. I hope maybe that riboflavin helps or I can get my eyes check to see if there is a problem there. Thank you for the post though.

Avatar universal
by karenalex, Jun 22, 2009
Basically I see headaches as a byproduct of something not going well in your body.. eg, too much sun exposure, not eating right, too much dust in the house, not enough sleep, synuses blocked up, etc etc..
However, on top of this, I used to get migraines or headaches just before my period every month, and I found something to almost eliminate pre-period migraines and headaches.. !!!
Every day I take Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc!! It comes in one handy tablet.
I highly recommend it!
For years my mother (who was a nurse) was telling me to take these, and it really works!

Avatar universal
by laloula, Jun 22, 2009
Thanks for these tips. I have found a link between various food substances, stress, and exercise with my migraines. I didn't know about B2, but generally find that when I support my well-being with certain supplements, it also helps. I'm not sure about this, but I feel like taking Omega 3 (fish oil) also helps--perhaps because it reduces inflamation, and has also been found to help depression, which is a stressor. Generally, once I get myself in "good shape" with food, diet, mental outlook, etc., my body can tolerate small amounts of the triggering substances.

Avatar universal
by karenalex, Jun 22, 2009
Oh, and I quit coffee!

Quit coffee, and women, take calcium, magnesium and zinc every day, and I mean *every day*!
Really try this seriously! And see how you go after two months!!!

Avatar universal
by Grammargirl159, Jun 22, 2009
I've had migraines since I was 7, (I'm now 44), I have a very strong history of migraines, and I have two young children who have migraines. While some advice in this blog may help some people, most long-term migraineurs have tried all of those tips without much success. Unfortunately, many neurologists offer little more advice than that. After many years, I have found an independent neurologist--not associated with a large medical center--who specializes in headaches, and who has quite a few "tricks" outside of what anyone else has ever told me. For example, physical therapy has been a big help in reducing clusters of migraines. WHy didn't any doctor ever tell me this before, I wonder? In addition, she discovered that I had a cyst in my sinuses that reacted to weather changes and triggered migraines as well. Why didn't anyone see this on a scan before? She takes the time to ASK ME QUESTIONS and LISTEN, and for the first time in my life, my migraines are manageable.
The point of all this: find a doctor who specializes in headaces and who listens. Just because someone is well-published or asociated with a big headache clinic doesn't mean they can help you. FInd someone who thinks "outside the box"--and most importantly, someone who isn't just going to write an Rx and send you on your way.

Avatar universal
by MarciaR, Jun 22, 2009
i'm a 67 yr. old female who's had migraines since age 40.  I get migraines when there's a change in the weather, when there's a rise in temp. or a dip, and when it's humid.  I exercise regularly, and walk every day, eat healthy foods, and am generally healthy.  I take vitamin B2, magnesium, feverfew every day, but still get headaches whenever there's a change in the weather which can be twice a week.  My 40 year old daughter also gets migraines around the same time, and now my 8 year old granddaughter (daughter of my son) gets them as well associated with weather changes.  She was seen by a child neurologist, but since she's healthy, he just said to take an aspirin.    To begin with her mother avoided giving her milk and cheese products, but that didn't help.  She got accupuncture and relexology, without relief.  The only thing that seems to help her now, is when she takes a cup of coffee with milk at the very beginning of her headache, then it eases up.  If she doesn't take it at the very beginning, she ends up suffering, and eventually vomits and goes to sleep.  She doesn't have coffee other than when she feels a headache coming on.  My question is, if taking coffee is not a good idea for a young child.  Although, that seems to help her so far.

Avatar universal
by meloni, Jun 22, 2009
Hello, if by some chance you feel like you are stuffed up, your ears feel plugged your cheekbones feel sore, soreness anywhere in your frontal area...please consider that your jaw may be causing your headaches.  It is called TMJ...Temporal Mandibular Joint Disfuntional...and see your dentist or sometime that is familiar with this.  You also do feel "spacey"  I have suffered with this in my 30's and now in my 50's am having constant headaches again...finally remembered the symptoms from a few years previous, and am now wearing a night guard for clamping my jaw down at night...I try to relaw it also.  I also see a neurologist but I am thinking that my jaw has caused 80 % of my bad headaches...from Ontario, Canada.

Avatar universal
by Chrysippus, Jun 22, 2009
This is for JenB: your symptoms could be those of a post-viral condition or even chronic fatigue syndrome. They exactly match those of a friend who has it: constant unexplained headaches; unnatural fatigue; intolerance of alcohol. I also have CFS; I don't get headaches, but to make up for it I get pain everywhere else... Intolerance of alcohol has been called almost diagnostic for CFS (though I don't think this is a scientific approach!). I too have it: I go straight from sobriety to hangover without enjoying any intervening period of inebriation. CFS is diagnosed by symptoms and by a process of elimination; you should perhaps try to find a specialist in CFS/FM as it's not an easy thing to diagnose. I am not a doctor; I am just going on my own experience and what I have learned about CFS. Best of luck.

Avatar universal
by bwanadar, Jun 22, 2009
I am Jean, It has been interesting for me to read all the comments posted.  I am 59 and have had Migrane since I was 15, over the years after many consultations by various medical proffesionals I was classified as a person with "Migrane" and after the trials of various headache related medications I was finally prescribed "Imigran" adose of 50mg. although this is not a cure but it has given me a relief from chronic headache over the years.  to manage my headaches I have also done the following:-
1. Eat little and often (by experience).
2. I do not drink any alcohol.
3. For relaxation I do deep breathing.
4. I take "Omega7" essential oils.
5. I excercise on regular basis.

Having read your article re-artificial sweetners, it has made me realise that recently ( about 3 weeks) I dicided to stop using artificial sweetners and have suffered with headaches almost everyday and coul;d not understand why. Is it possible that coming off the artificial sweeners has triggerd the lingering headache?
Comments will be appreciated.

Avatar universal
by linpin, Jun 22, 2009
I've suffered from migraines since 1977. I get them from stress, weather changes, certain foods & beverages, hormonal fluctuations and environmental exhausts like diesel and cigarette smoke. I've tried every medicine (and acupuncture) out there since then and am now on daily medication Topamax to help control the frequency and duration. I take 2mg. Zomig pill when absolutely necessary (pain <5). I have learned to decreased the stress in my life, eliminate the offending foods and beverages by trial and error. For the hormonal headaches, I've eliminated the ovulation and menstral headaches by going on DepoProvera injection that halts the menstration cycle (I am beyond my child bearing years). This for me was the main migraine buster. I try to stay away from people who smoke and stay ahead or cars and trucks that are diesel or burning oil. I don't drink alcohol, soda, caffine, or consume MSG (or the "sister" flavor inhancers) or artificial sugar substitutes. I excercise (yoga, walk), eat healthy, sleep regular hours, but could afford to loose 20 lbs.
I  find the 400 mg. of B2 interesting, and will have to try. Nobody ever sugested this to me.
Now I only will get migraines from wheather changes (because mother nature is out of my control) or when I get something slipped into my food at a restauraunt (which is always a challenge for me because I have to "grill" the waiter or waitress).

Avatar universal
by Mel522, Jun 22, 2009
What can I do for migrans due to a Cerabellar Tonsular Ectopic? This is what I am supposed to have I get pressure in the back of my head and neck so much so it feels like something is pusing out my ears, vertigo and blurry vision.

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by car1955, Jun 22, 2009
I have had migraine headaches for 20 years and the doctor has given very good advice.I can not eat certain foods,MSG,and drink alcohol .I find caffiene helps me if I drink a little bit.I have been taking 100 MG of Topamax daily for migraines for over 3 years and I also have ice pick headaches(stabbing pains in my head)I take Neurontin as needed.Also Imitrex for headaches as needed.Topamax is great the only problem is the generic does not work for me .I think everyone should try everything else before they go on a daily medication.I did for 17 years(including botox)but finally I had to take something every day and it works.

Avatar universal
by BuxomBrunette, Jun 22, 2009
I've had migraines for 16 years.   I've found if my blood sugar gets even a little low I'll have a migraine.  I was surprised not to find the suggestion to keep ones blood sugar level even if diabetes isn't a diagnosis. I've also found caffeine effective if I used it, especially with Imitrex, early in a migraine.

I'm having my gall bladder removed and am hoping to be able to try a complex B vitamin then.  

Thank you for putting this on the internet. I think it may prove very useful for people who don't have access to a health care provider.

Kansas City, MO, USA

Avatar universal
by Goutfree, Jun 23, 2009
Waking up frequently after a night's sleep with a headache is a telltale sign of sleep apnea. Anyone who experiences this should be screened for sleep apnea. Leaving sleep apnea untreated can lead to consequences that are much more serious than morning headaches.

Avatar universal
by raajvi, Jun 23, 2009
I started having migrains from the age of 18, it started of as harmonal, too much heat/sun, irregular eating habits. I popped a lot of pain killers till one day a Doc told me to give up or reduce the pills and take care of a few things like eat on time, while sleepin switch off the calling bell , the phone etc go slow on choclates at sleep time, try not getting anxious at all times, dont worry and keep the sinus clean, have a anti allergy in case of a sudden cold or sinus fill.....
few things and the medications was far and few..... it has certainly improved

thanks doc for your tips really helpful

Avatar universal
by partner110, Jun 26, 2009
Hi,thank you for you all,you suggestion, your experience ,your guide and your sympathy persued me to try them .I hope to get better.

Avatar universal
by grandmajo, Jun 29, 2009
One of the major contributing factors to headaches that is seldom addressed is the lack of water in one's diet.  We drink far too many other drinks, ie teas, coffee, sodas, alcohol, and fail to recognize that our bodies are designed to take what we put into it, and either use, store or eliminate it.  Water is necessary for hydration, and also to assist the elimination processes. Water helps to cleanse and flush our systems of the toxins that naturally accumulate from the foods we eat, and all the stuff we consume that really isn't good for us!!   Try drinking more water and less other beverages. (Many of us don't consume enough liquids, period, let alone water!)   It will not necessarily CURE all the headaches, but as a life long sufferer of headaches myself, I know that drinking more water more consistently and keeping myself fully hydrated has helped me tremendously.  Also, take note of your bathroom habits when you do start drinking more water...you will notice a drastic difference....

Hoping this helps at least one....

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by MisterTimC, Jul 07, 2009
I, too, have battled chronic headaches for over 25 years, from before I was 20 until past age 45. But around that time, my insurance changed and a new doctor recognized that I had a chronic muscle spasm in my neck which created tension headaches over the top of my head. Physical therapy, including exercise and traction, helps with the muscle spasm, but then we realized that I was also having headaches from sinus pressure. Dealing properly with these two sources of my headaches has helped tremendously.

Now I'm not saying that everyone's headaches are from muscle spasms and sinus problems. My point is that since we're all similar yet different, some people may have multiple causes for their headaches, and it may take some sleuthing to find answers.

Hoping this helps,

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by jh2010, May 19, 2010
This is a great blog! Thanks.

Avatar universal
by wellerval, May 21, 2010
For those with anxiety and headache, do you also have irregular heartbeat at times?  Magnesium deficiency could be an issue.  For others, please take a look at Zinc/Copper imbalance.  Zinc deficiency can lead to copper excess can lead to frontal headache.

Avatar universal
by stangerbm, Sep 22, 2010
My problem: daily headaches/ migraines caused by focusing my eyes, . ie reading, using computer, watching T.V., and most commonly while in class paying attention to my professors. I have had these problems starting back 4 years ago and progressively getting worse. I am light sensitive and wear glasses basically all the time. My vision is perfect, I had LASIK over a year ago. Prior to LASIK I was told my pain was due to astigmatism... obviously wrong. In addition to my head my stomach is usually always upset. I have been a gassy person as long as I can remember. I previously had stomach pain in the mornings but that eventually went away. I've had an endoscopy and colonoscopy and both came back normal.

After my first neurologist appointment I was told to basically eat better, exercise daily, drink plenty of water and was given a prescription for topamax. He also enlightened me that I was light sensitive and to wear sunglasses all the time. I did as I was told but I had to get off the meds because I was getting short-term memory loss and it actually made my headaches more frequent. My headaches eventually led me to quit my job and go back to school in hopes that the reduced stress levels would better my headaches. That was over six months ago and my head has only gotten worse.

After I received my school insurance I decided to go get another Neurologist's opinion. I told him everything that I was previously told by my last dr. He ordered an MRI which I had yesterday and told me to work on my posture. I also now take Lyrica 50mg three-times daily which seems to do nothing except waste a ton of money. I was also told to go on an elimination diet that prevents me from eatings all milk products, gluten products, caffeine, peanuts, sugary stuff, red meat and cold cuts, and basically anything else that tastes good. He told me to take 100mg of riboflavin and 400mg of magnesium daily. I drink a ton of water, I'm in otherwise great shape.

Okay, I think I've babbled on enough. I have followed the above criteria and then some with no prevail. My hopes are just to find someone with the same symptoms and communicate with them to see what they have done. I'm desperate, and I really hope someone can help.  

Avatar universal
by Poupon, Feb 23, 2011
Look up causes of migraines. The number one cause is DEHYDRATION! But this doctor never mentions staying hydtrated. The number two and three causes (hormones and alleregies) have the same root cause - a MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY. Seceeal of you have mentioned or alluded to these two things, but this neurologist (!) never mentioned either of these. It's truly shocking. And yet, it happens every single day.

I had a very rare form of early onset migraines as a child. They were painless, but made me irritable, scrambled my brain so I could not funciton in school and they dilated my left eye. I progressed to classical migranes after pubety, especially in my late 20's. They got so bad that if I opened a magazine with a perfume insert, It would semd me to bed for close to a week.  I was never diagnosed with migraines until my daughter came along in my late 30's. At age five, her left eye dilated, just like mine in all my school pictures. Her personality changed and she suddenly could not form or recognize letters, which she liked practising. We thought she had a brain tumor, and spent three months going to various doctors, none of whom could tell us anything except it wasn't a tumor (not terribly reassuring!). The worst of the bunch  was the pediatric neurologist, who told me (get this!) that there is no such thing as learning disabilities; only naughty children who won't do their school work!

Then we were refered to a neuro-opthamologist. He knew this very rare form of migraine, and asked me a lot of questions about my own medical history. My school history was that I was punished for the episodes where I scrambled letteers and numbers, because I did well during testing for IQ, dyslexia etc. I didn't have migraines those days.  I had never been dxed with a migraine as an adult because doctors repeatedly told me that if I don't vomit, it's not a migraine. The neuro-opt rolled his eyes and said doctors get no training in migraines and you can't trust them to know  things like this. Sad but true. Also true of nutrition, because in 50 years of giving doctors classic symptoms of malnutrition, and of my saying "I really think I am not absorbing nutrients, can you test this?" I never had ONE agree to do so. Nor has a single One of my relatives had a doctor do this. Meanwhile we have been sickened and died because, as it turns out,  we do not metabilize certain nutrients (especially proteins and fats) properly. That means we do not have the amino acids to properly digest things like magnesium. All  of us who are adults have migraines, atrial fibrillation, hypothyroid, and are prone to heat prostration, plus several have had other autoimmune disorders and neurological disorders (Alzheimers is a given, if we live long enough) as well.

Migraines adon't happen in a vacuum. They are a symptom of a greater disease. The presence of them is a warning that something far more serious is going on. A POX on doctors who only offer medication for the symptoms and don't look for a cause, or worse, tell you ydon't have a migtaine at all! A major POX on doctors who are ignorant of nutrion and it's role in health. We are told we are what we eat, but to doctors trined only in pathology, it is merely a soundbite. To be reeal doctors, they must be able to investigate why we get sick and treat that, not just the symptoms our diseases present with.

Much of what I learned about migraines came from a marvelous book called Headaches in Children, which was written in Argentina. I subsequently had a GP from Argentina, who was the first doctor in 55 years to look at my standard testing, and say "something does not match up here." and encourage me to pursue funcitonal testing (our insurance was changing, so I had to leave her.) we hear about Western vs Eastern medicine, but there is also US medcine vs other countries in the West, that do things differently. Argentina evidentally is far more funciton based than we are here.

My dd and I have been using magnesium to control our migraines for over a decade now, and my migraines immediately shortened from 5 days to a couple of hours,  but we only learned we have a congenital metabolic defect recently, and genetic testing is not yet finished.  So, we've been taking massive doses of magnesium in order to get a normal dose in our systems. Then we take more still when we are symptomatic. We had micronutrient testing, which, despite taking about 10 times the recommended dosage, shows me to be severely deficient in magnesium. And several other nutrients, especially those that affect the heart, like coQ 10. While waiting for the tests to be completed, we are taking massive amounts of prescrined supplements and my atrial fibrillation, has finally abated. The testing ws prompted by a-fib so severe that doctors kept sending me to the ER ( where they typically had me lie around on gurneys for hours).

Google cause of migraines, and google symptoms of deficiencies, especially  magnesium deficiency. and drink your 8-10 glasses of water a day minimum. Don't expect doctors who only deal in pathology to know squat about the causes of illness. Find a good doctor who is trained in functional medicine as well as pathology.

My family's  disorder is probably extremely rare, but there are thousands of genetic disorders that affect absorption, so if your medical history is at all like mine, find somoene who does micronutrient testing. (Genova Diagnostics is who identified my problem). Many of them cause glutamates to flood the brain and are strongly suspected of causing autism, ADD Alzheimers, schizophrenia, lou gerihg's (ALS) Parkinson's atrial finrillation, and yes, migraines. Google glutamate and any of these or other disorders, and you will see that the medical industry knows this, and indeed, has begun developing glutamat blockers to treat. (at this stage) ALS and schizophrenia, and is being looked into for other disorders. Yet, our FDA refuses to properly limit glutamates, and even allows them in medicine, vaccines, baby food (where it used to be banned) and in massive amounts in convenience foods.  The USDA just joined in partnership with the originater and primary producer of glutamate based food additives to test the safety of this product. just how do you think that round of studies is going to go, eh? Like all ones the FDA goes by, that this company funds studies of. They will declare it safe, once again.  The name you most recognize glutamate by is MSG, but the company changes and changes and changes the name. Check out truthinlabeling.net and MSGtruth.com for other names.

The reason you and i get migraines from these additives and the guy next door doesn't  is our bodies lack enough of the correct nutrients to block overload.  But look how neurological and auto-immune dosirders have inceased since 1948, when MSGfirst hit the US. The day will soon come where no one can fight them.

Lastly, go read about the suicide of Duerson, the football player who sufferred several head injuries. He opted to shoot himself ithe chest, to preserve his brain, so that it would be studied for the ill effects of head injruries. seem unrelated? It's not. google brain injuries and glutamate to find out why. It will scare the heck out of you.

Magnesium deficiencies are quite common

Avatar universal
by Poupon, Feb 23, 2011
One other thing - for those of you who take meds for migraines (or for anything else), learn what that medicaiton is made of. I have never taken any prophylactic medicine for migraines, so I am not familiar with them, but let's just take the one called Triptan for example. Without looking it up, I would suspect this one is triptophan based. Google triptophane and you learn it is a nutrient that may be either deficient or too high in the bodies of peole who rerspond well to triptan. If you a on it, look it up and find out, and if that is the case, run get micronutrient testing done nd balance your body so that you don't get ano auto-immune disorder.

The pharmaceutical companies aren't run by idiots. They study the very nutrients that med schools fail to train doctors about, and make medications based on these nutrients, or, in some cases,  that block some nutrients. You've heard of calcium channel blockers, for heart disease, well, did you ever wonder why they need to block calcium, which we've alll been told we need more and more of?  It is to allow magnesium to enter e system more eaisly. Because while all of us were dutifully taking extra calcium, that was causing a depletion and deficiency in magnesium, and veyr likely also in potassium and zinc. The minerals are designed to work in concert, and when one horn blows to loudly, your body becomes as discordant as an orchestra would sound.

LOTS of medicines are developed this way.

Avatar universal
by healtyalfie, Sep 05, 2011
I am 82 and now and again I get a head ache on my forehead I was given this tip many years ago sounds silly but works for me .First put one finger on one  nostril then  exert pressure until its blocked,then slowly breath in open nostril  very slowly until  air has filled your lungs,  then switch finger to other nostril and slowly breath out until all air is expelled ,Do this for about 5 minutes always slowly and only breathing gently not forcing air in or out but gently. I am ex Hospital worker and many of our Nurses and yes even Doctors have tried this,at first they pretend not to listen yet many have come back to say it worked for them.And of course its free.Later on I will relate how to stop going to relieve oneself 2, 3, or in my case 4,Times a night its simple and cost nothing..no tablets or any kind of medication what so ever Its working for me and if anyone is interested I can tell you how simple it is.I do believe for every illness there is a way of curing most of our illnesses Well good luck and God Bless

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by rosie5300, Nov 13, 2011
i was taking topamax for about 4 weeks and in the first few days i experienced some small eye pain but i rang my doctor straight away and he told me that my eyes were just adjusting to the medication. a day or two later the pain stopped but i was noticing changes in my vision at long distance. But everything up close was fine it took me about a week to notice that it was double vision as it become stronger. ( i wasn't aware at the time double vison was a side effect it was only after reading on the internet that i labeled it) but anyway called my neurologist and told him it was double vision and he said that i would have to stop taking the topamax. I was pretty bummed because i hadnt had a single headache or migrane while taking it which i cant remember a week where i went with out one. I was also not experiencing any other side effect. Anyway thats just the history after i stopped taking topamax after a week i still was experiencing double vison its been 3 weeks total after stopping it and i still have it. My doctor has referred me on to an eye specialist and to get an MRI  in which on the request form he wrote (demyelination?) He didnt mention this to me at all and to be honest i have no idea what it is. But he did he mentioned a theory, that because at age 10 (now 17) i was told i had convergence excess but apparently i cant even notice it. Anyway i was prescribed reading glasses and thats it apart from that i have always had really good vison. But anyway he seems to think that because of the convergence excess and from being on the topamax it has thrown my eyes out of whack. im seeing the eye specialist in 2 days but im beyond worried that this will never go away and im just interested to hear if there could be another reason. Sorry this is such a long post!

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