If you suffer from headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, and other odd symptoms you must read this. I have had chronic headaches since I was in my teens. In my mid twenties I started getting migraines, along with more frequent bad headaches and dizziness, especially around my period in my late twenties. I never really did much about it; I ignored it and went on with life in pain every day eating Excedrin and vicodin. It was a way of life that I thought I had to live with. When I turned 30 I had a severe vertigo attack (thought I had a stroke or something). I never felt anything like this in my entire life. Now I've been suffering from chronic daily vertigo for the last year, ever since this attack. I never had vertigo or motion sickness until now. I had tons of tests done; all which were normal accept one of my ear tests showed I was having a minimal amount of vestibular disturbance. My MRI & MRA of the brain and neck were normal and I had no hearing loss or ringing in the ear (Meneire's Disease). Also Meneire's Disease vertigo attacks don't last any longer than 24 hours for the most part. I have read and done my research about every ear disorder/illness/disease problem possible. Neck disorders, brain disorders, asked doctors tons of questions and talked with other people about their illnesses. The number one rule is, if you don't have hearing loss you most likely don't have an ear disorder, other than possible trauma, virus or bacterial infection. All possible ear diseases/tumors and or trauma of the ear was ruled out. So what was causing this vestibular disturbance? I even went to the HOUSE EAR CLINIC in L.A. and they suggested I see a neurologist (but that was months later during my investigation for a diagnosis). I saw many, many doctors, including neurologists, none of which could help me. They kept thinking it was BPPV, but BPPV does not last all day long 24/7, day after day. It comes and goes in bouts of vertigo spells usually with head movement as the calcium crystals will dislodge and move back and forth in the inner ear. You can have BPPV your entire life but you don't have the symptoms all day long. Also there is surgery that can help correct it, if it disrupts your life enough.
Doctors kept giving me quick fix drugs (Ativan :lorazepam, diazepam: AKA valium, antivert etc) for my severe vertigo attacks and bad headaches, which only heavily sedated me and it never got rid of the symptoms (I found out later these drugs are bad for migraine patients: Dr. said its like giving me alcohol and meclizine only works for so long). Finally, I had a second ENT doctor suggest it might have something to do with my history of headaches and migraines. I saw a UCLA neurologist. He is well renowned in southern California and has spent his entire career focusing on balance disorders and migraine research. All the symptoms I had told him (I had other symptoms as well, some strange) he explained, were from migraines. He had seen hundreds of people like me and groups of families like me. Migraines are a hereditary disease he said (which a few of my family members also have). He said especially since my MRI/MRA was normal and I had no hearing loss it was confirmed that migraine was the cause. He said vertigo is the second most common symptom of migraines and doctors still don't know exactly why it can affect the inner ear. He was the first doctor to tell me with confidence, “You will get better” instead of saying “You need to be optimistic" like all the other doctors. He also said migraines can cause stroke like attacks/symptoms but are reversible; not like a stroke. I finally got a diagnosis after almost a year of hell! I never gave up. I read online information daily. I kept seeing doctors until it finally lead me to the right place. Migraines can change throughout your life and symptoms will come and go but you will always have migraines because it is a hereditary disease, but you don't have to live with the symptoms. I wish I would have learned more and taken better care of myself when I was younger. I could have prevented this attack and all this constant vertigo that had greatly taken away my independence and created so much anxiety and depression. I cried all the time, I wanted to die; I did not want to live in a world where my mind was always spinning out of control. The doctor also explained that anxiety/depression is the worse for migraines. It will trigger them and make it harder to treat it. I had to get this problem under control and keep telling myself I will get better, even on the bad days.
Before all this vertigo, I was in a toxic relationship (emotionally stressful) for 2 1/2 years. Six months after dating this person I started getting sick all the time. My headaches were worse, migraines more consistent and I would get dizzy many times. I didn't understand what was happening to me. On top of that, my boyfriend at the time was an insomniac and he would never let me sleep. I had sleep disturbance ever since I met him. My diet also changed too! I'm not blaming everything on him; it was my fault that I stayed with a person like this for too long. I tried leaving him 3 times! He kept promising me he would change and was seeing his cousin who was a psychiatrist. The point I'm trying to say here is, don't lose your happiness over anything. Not even love, because if that person, or job, or place or whatever it is, is not making you happy than get out, get out right away. It’s not worth your life, your health, your happiness. STRESS KILLS!
Anyone with headaches/migraines NEEDS to read this book called HEAL YOUR HEADACHE: the 1 2 3 Program by David Buchholz. He is a neurologist that has worked with migraine patients for over 2 decades. I actually learned about this book from a woman on a message board, explaining her strange symptoms and vertigo. She had drop attacks, burning sensation on her scalp, headaches, severe vertigo and many other problems. It seemed like she was in more worse of a condition than me. She got on migraine medication, followed this book and is now living a normal life again. Her doctor recommended this book to her. I bought it cheap online and boy did this book describe me and my symptoms perfectly. This book explains other patients and their strange symptoms: numbness (even on one entire side of the body), sinus problems, scalp problems, visual problems, and many other things that you would not think would be related to migraine, and you don't have to have a headache with these other symptoms. Also, the UCLA doctor that I saw says migraines are hereditary, that's true, and the doctor in this book also agrees but also believes everyone has the migraine mechanism, EVERYONE! It’s just a matter of time if you trigger it or not! The reason why your doctor has not been able to help you is because most doctors don't know how to help you. Most doctors don't know much about complicated migraines and most doctors don't want to deal with you. Migraines are complicated and can have many, many, types of symptoms that people and doctors never put 2 and 2 together. We as migraine sufferers have to live more simple lives, you must keep your stress down, you must sleep,( the 2 most important triggers of migraine) know what foods trigger your headaches (caffeine #1, MSG, alcohol, chocolate, old cheeses), you must control anxiety and depression as best possible. These are all of which really trigger migraines and make it harder for your body to heal. Stop taking daily quick fix drugs for your migraines (Excedrin, vicodin, imitrex etc). It causes reoccurring headaches/migraines. There are other triggers that this book talks about as well. Please read this book, it will help you if you follow what this book has to say. It has helped me! I’ve been on treatment for a month now. I follow the diet, I do mild yoga, massage sometimes, and I have been on migraine medication for about a month now. It is working! I’m not fully recovered just yet. The medication can take 2-3 months to see much improved results and if it doesn’t work I will try the next migraine medication that the doctor recommended (which by the way there is no such thing as a daily migraine medication other than methysergide, which is rarely used because of the concern for scarring internal organs. Most other medications used for migraines were formulated to help other illnesses and found out through trial and error that it reduced symptoms of migraine). Just to let you know I don’t like being on medication, I’ve always preferred and done the more natural approach in my later years (vitamin B2, fish oil, feverfew, ginger, magnesium, peppermint oil, many other herbs and supplements, ayurvedic treatment, chiropractic, massage: which only worked to a small degree for me) but this is what I have to do for now because I am chronic. I don’t like the side effects (usually dizziness and sedation) but they start to subside after a few weeks. You do not have to get on medication. Just follow this books suggestion for a couple of months and if you have no relief the next step is migraine medication. Also you do not have to be on medication all your life, because migraines usually come and go throughout your life time. For some people who have chronic headaches their entire life is mostly because of all the over the counter medications they are always eating and the wrong foods, no sleep and stress; like I was! The most important thing is to keep your migraine triggers down as much as humanly possible. If you really want to change your life for the better, your going to have to put in the TIME! That's all there is to it, no ifs, buts, or wants. JUST DO IT!
I have noticed a difference. I don’t have weird numbing spells in my brain anymore or on the side of my face or pressure build up and my chronic neck pain and tension is gone. The pressure and pain in my ear has reduced tremendously. My vertigo and headaches have decreased and I don’t get as much motion sickness in the car. I have a long journey ahead of me and as much as I would like to be cured over night, I have to remember I was sick for a very long time and it will take time to fully restore my health again. I will stay positive and keep you posted with my recovery over the next few months.
I suggest you do some research and find a well renowned neurologist that specializes in migraines and balance disorders. Read this book, and if the doctor does not understand what you are saying, telling, asking them, then get a new doctor. Keep trying till you find the right doctor. Even if you have to go outside your insurance and pay a bit more money. It is worth it to have your health back, your life back, and your happiness. All I want to do is help other people to not have to go through what I went through, that is why I’m telling you my story. Your migraines can change for the worse. Please take care of yourself and don't ignore your pain. You can write me if you have any questions or let me know if this helped you or if the book helped. Thank You!
P.S. July 5th, 2009
I was just informed about another health forum that deals with only migraine associated vertigo. I read some of the success stories and it took most of the people 3-4 months to have a full recovery after taking medication (the right one). It was very encouraging as I'm only at five weeks, thus far. Look up MAV "migraine associated vertigo" health forums. People explain a lot of their dizzy symptoms!
I was diagnosed with cluster headaches which is under my left eye and sometimes my right but not as much as my left.. The doctors tried to say it was a Migraine at first and I kept saying no it was nothing like that. Now I have Migraines about once a week. I have cluster that lasts for days and days at a time and it comes in the summer when its most hot! I've been hospitalized several times my blood pressure goes way up. Thank you for your help..
Hopefully you read my entire post. Again, you should get the book I recommended and follow what the doctor has to say. This docotor helps guide you through his program and tells you everything you need to know about migraines, symptoms, triggers, diet, medications; everything. I bought the book online for 5$. Then you should do some research in your area and find the best neurologist that is knowledgable about migraines and balance disorders. Hope this helps!
Oh, by the way, I've been to Ireland. Loved it
Thank you for the post! Very informative. I have a question...is it possible to be suffering from migraines that are really mild? I have had I think 3 full-blown migaines in my life (unbearable sharp headache, wavy vision, naseau/vomiting, etc.). The last one I had was about 2 years ago. But for about the last year, I have really been struggling everyday with pressure in my head, dizziness and disorientation, feeling of being "off-centered", vision problems (difficulty with my eyes focusing together), etc. I have these symptoms pretty much 24/7 (not very noticeable when I'm asleep). I have noticed that a lot of veins in my head are always pulsating (at times harder than other times). I notice it most in the veins on the side of my head (near the temples), and the veins on the bridge of my nose, right between my eyes.
All of this causes me a lot of anxiety, and the reason I'm unsure if it could be migraines is because the headaches aren't really the problem (very slight if any). It's the pressure and dizziness and focusing issues that kill me. Also, I have an appointment with with a neuro-opthalmologist in August, and hope to get some answers from that.
The author in this book explains that all headaches are migraines. As for your symptoms, again, it sounds like migraines. You can have many other symptoms without a headache. I did! I had chronic daily vertigo, pain and pressure in my right ear, neck pain, sinus problems, and I didn’t always have a headache with it. Migraines have the potential to produce swelling and inflammation of blood vessels around the head, that's probably why you are noticing your blood vessels and also you’re having anxiety which is making matters worse. Thinking about it all the time makes things worse too. Believe me, I thought about all the worse case scenarios possible. Did a small vessel burst in my brain that can't be seen on a MRI; is it a damaged nerve in my inner ear, or my neck? Do I have a weird brain disease etc? I thought of them all, and all it did was make me more worrisome.
It’s good you are going to the doctor to check this out. They might say the same thing, "migraines" and want to put you on medication. For the past 2 years, doctors wanted to put me on migraine medication and I always said no. I do not like medication and the side effects. Today, I wish I had gotten on medication back then because I could have prevented my migraines from getting worse. But again, if I didn't have this horrible thing happen to me, I would have kept on living the same life style, the wrong foods, alcohol, no sleep etc. I would not have learned all I have about myself and how to overcome my migraines. I would have probably lived the rest of my life always in pain. You should get the book now, read all of it, follow the diet and try to keep your migraine triggers down. You will feel better reading about your symptoms and how to help yourself. Usually in the beginning, his patients would have really bad headaches for a few weeks getting off all their quick fix drugs (don’t know if you use any?). That is the hardest part for most people and the diet, I don’t mind, it’s healthier and after four months you can start experimenting which foods you like and put them back in your diet if they don’t trigger a headache. I know for sure alcohol and chocolate always triggered my headaches, so that’s something I will have to live without if I don’t want to suffer. If you start feeling better by the time you see your doctor than most likely your symptoms are being caused by migraine. If you are not getting much relief, then you should ask for a MRI or CT of the brain. CT is less expensive but also has radiation. MRI is more expensive and is not a health hazard to the body (used with magnetics). Hope this helps!
I'm on nortriptyline (Pamelor). This medication is a antidepressant, which has also helped me manage my depression and anxiety through this hard time. I was not depressed or had anxiety before I got sick. I had a very active, social, and fun life. I am a biologist and use to hike all over California and even ride in helicoptors. Now I can't barely stand riding in cars. Also, I use to play drums in a band too! Just to let you know a bit about my life; it was very normal until I got really sick.
I started at 10mg which is the lowest dose doctors give out. They say to take 10mg the 1st week, 20mg 2nd week, 30mg 3rd week etc. I finally got up to 20mg. It took a while because I had a cold for 2 weeks which was making my vertigo worse and after that went away, I finally got up to 20mg and I'm not as dizzy or sedated now from the medication. They say to stay at the level that works for you. My doctor says 20mg is still very low and to try to keep going up. He wants me between 40-60mg. I don't know if that's possible for me, I'm pretty small, but I will keep trying until I have no more symptoms of lingering headaches, dizziness or motion sickness. This last week I've been feeling pretty darn good. It's been a long time!
Good to hear! It's ironic, but I actually play drums (in a few bands). My headaches are quite a problem when I play, but I love it too much.
I got the book yesterday and have only read the first chapter (so I may learn the answer to this question later), but doesn't taking medication act as a "quick fix" to where it stops working after a while (which the book says to avoid)? How often do you take it?
That's awesome you play too!
Its not a quick fix medication, its a daily medication. I don't know how long the length of time it may or may not keep working but I don't plan on taking it forever; just until I can get my symptoms down and under control along with my triggers. They say you can be on it a long time, because again, its an antidepressant that is used to help control migraine symptoms. Good luck on your read
Hello! Just wanted to add that I have read this book and I think it is outstanding!!! I actually read it about 5 years ago and it works really well. I unfortunately did not follow all of the rules and am back in the crappy state of being I was in once before. Be VERY careful about adding in new foods - I know for sure that chocolate, caffeine, and some cheeses give me awful headaches.
I actually gave my book to my uncle who also suffers - I'm thinking of reordering it though. I also have TMJ and am going for treatment. I clench my teeth horribly at night which contributes to the headaches/migraines. Stress is the worse - I'm getting married in a month and I'm out of a job!
Anyway...Just wanted to say - GOOD POST!!!
Also - Leeshy - what does the 215 stand for? Feb 15? That's my birthday.
I just want to give you an update on my prognosis with my migraines and vertigo, like I promised. Again, if you have not read my original post, I was suffering from vertigo for the last year and had it constantly from November 2008, to June 2009. I finally got a diagnosis from a specialized neurologist and was put on the right medication. I started taking medication for my migraine associated vertigo (MAV). Before that, I could barely get out of bed for months; now I can walk around all the time. I have been taking my medication for 9 weeks now. I started off with 10mg the first week, and was having a hard time increasing my medication 10mg every week. I could not do it! Every time I tried taking 20mg I would get really sedated and pretty dizzy. I must say though, after taking this medication for only two weeks, my spinning sensation (vertigo) dizziness went away. I still have dizziness but it’s not the spinning vertigo dizziness, which I’d much rather have normal dizzy than spinning dizzy. After a month, I was finally able to get up to 20mg, and now it’s so much easier to increase the dosage. The neurologist wanted me to take between 40-60mg, which at the time I thought there was no way I can take that amount. Well, this week I started on 50mg. When I got to 20mg, I took it for a week and instead of “BAM” taking a third pill (30mg), I just slowly added in each day part of the third pill and by the end of the week I could take the entire pill, which was now 30mg. So basically, I gave myself two week increments to increase my dosage by 10mg and it made things so much easier. I still feel a bit sedated here and there, especially in the morning and I have excessive dry mouth, and every time I would take the next higher dosage I would have chest pains and some palpations for a few days. I will get up to 60mg in another two weeks.
As for my symptoms, yes, I still get headaches everyday but they have been decreasing in pain over the weeks. I had a terrible headache this last month for four days during my period but they weren’t as intense as they used to be during this time (usually migraine intense). Also, I got pretty dizzy on/off and I lost my balance two times but I didn’t make myself worry. I knew it was because I had a bad headache and it was affecting me in that way and I would feel better after it passed; and it did. I have come a long way from where I use to be to where I am now. I am astonished at how a little ol’ pill can change my brain function. Also, keeping my depression and anxiety down helps, and eating to a migraine diet. I pretty much only eat fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meat and fish, juice, and for sweet treats I eat snicker doodle and short bread cookies, vanilla ice cream, honey on toast and oats/honey granola bars. I have always had a really bad sweet tooth, especially for chocolate that I can no longer have. I am 5’5” and weigh 120lbs now. I have lost 8lbs already in the last two months.
I still have slight pain in my right ear and still get dizzy when I’m in a car, so I’m not driving just yet. Every time I go into a store I get dizzy, especially grocery shopping, but I’m trying to force my body back to its normal function I guess you could say. I don’t know if it is activity induced or if the dizziness is being caused with activity while looking at several objects in the store? Also, it doesn’t help after getting out of a car. When I had my tests done, one of them came back saying that my vestibular function was slightly off. Meaning my eyes and my inner ears weren’t matching up perfectly together. So my inner ears are telling my brain one thing, as I am in motion and my eyes are telling my brain another thing, as I’m looking around. So if they aren’t matching up properly it confuses the brain (causing dizziness). I still get frustrated sometimes, some days I still cry, but try to stay positive for the most part, and my mother helps keep me positive and tells me all the time I will get better. So I’ve been on this medication for about two months now and I still have one more month to go. The doctor said to give it three months, but I have read other people’s postings on migraine associated vertigo and it took them 3 ½ to 4 months to make a full recovery. They were just like me; could barely walk and had all kinds of dizzy problems. So that’s what I am shooting for. As of now, I can do so much more activity, like walk my dogs, bike ride around the block, work on my music (guitar), clean the house, paint, type on the computer, go to stores and movies with family and friends, all of which I could not do, or barely do at all before. I still have to take it pretty easy though, as I get fatigued easily and still get dizzy. The worse for me is that time of the month, riding in cars, and going grocery shopping. I hope all of you that have read my original post got some form of information that is helping you. Cheers to you all and I will be in touch with my prognosis in the next month or two!
Also, here are a few specialized doctors (top neurologists etc.) in the nation that have spent their entire career researching and working with patients with balance disorders and migraine, that help us to better understand our illness. Some of these doctors are Dr. David Buchholz (John Hopkins University), Dr. Robert Baloh (Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center), Dr. Steven Rauch (Harvard Medical School), and Dr. Timothy C. Hain (Northwestern University Medical School). You should read information about their research, contact one of these doctors, or be seen by one if needed.
Thank you leeshy for your detailed posts. So much of what you are going through is also happening to me. What prompted this quick reply was reading your dizzy problems especially in food stores, because that is exactly what I noticed too.
Chronic headaches for 14 years. Took many painkillers. Read the book, stopped all painkillers in Jan 2010 and now get headaches only once a week and I can work and sleep through them.
Well I have now been on treatment for 4 months and I no longer have problems in stores. I keep getting better every month! The last thing I have issues with is being in vehicles; mostly when I drive. I still get dizzy spells. Hopefully, in time I will overcome that as well. I take daily migraine medication, eat to a migraine diet and try to move my body every day; do some kind of exercise. After speaking with my doctor the other day, I got another book called "Brain Rules." The doctor and I discussed possiblities of what could have happened to me back in August 2008; when I had that attack that gave me vertigo. There's the possibility that something could have happened to small blood vessels in the brain that can't be seen on an MRI. Also, we talked about the nerves in my inner ear. I asked him if there were nerves in the brain. He said that's one of the main areas in the body that has nerves. I told him I thought it was just blood vessels and white matter The white matter he said is where all the nerves are. I asked him if some nerves could have shorted out or something in my brain and he said its very possible. He said the good thing about the brain is that it has the ability to change. Other surrounding nerves or blood vessels will take over the job of the area that got damaged, I guess you could say.
So I bought this book to help me better understand how the brain functions. I'm only on the 2nd chapter. Exercise is one of the best things anyone can do for their bodies. It provides your body greater access to oxygen and food. Exercise increases blood flow across the tissues of your body and stimulates the blood vessels to create a powerful, flow-regulating molecule called nitric oxide. As the flow improves the body makes new blood vessels. The more you exercise the more tissues you can feed and the more toxic waste you can remove. This happens also in the human brain. Imaging studies have shown that exercise literally increases blood volume in a region of the brain called the dentate gyrus.The dentate gyrus is a vital constituent of the hippocampus, a region deeply involved in memory formation. This blood-flow increase, which may be the result of new capillaries, allows more brain cells greater access to the blood's food and haz-mat teams. Also exercise stimulates one of the brain's most powerful growth factors, BDNF. That stands for Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, and it aids in the development of healthy tissue. BDNF exerts a fertilizer-like growth effect on certian neurons in the brain. The protien keeps existing neurons young and healthy, rendering them much more willing to connect with one another. It also encourages neurogenesis, the formation of new cells in the brain. Exercise increases the level of usable BDNF inside those cells. The more you exercise, the more fertilizer you create. Just some sightful information.
After my vertigo attack in August I was constantly having on and off vertigo. One doctor said I was under stress and to try yoga, meditation, and massage. I wasn't under stress, I was just scared from all the dizziness. So I tried yoga for 2 months and it made a huge difference in my life. I barely had any vertigo spells and almost no more headaches. Not knowing at the time that my vertigo was from headaches/migraines. This was an amazing class! The teacher was very aware of all his students and always helped us beginners. He went very slow through each pose and really focused on breathing. Breathing is the key! I've taken other yoga classes and many teachers like to do a million poses in one session. That's crazy! Unfortunately, I was gone for almost a month going out of town for my job and also got back together with my boyfriend who was sooooo wrong for me and everything then spiraled out of control from there. You should really find a yoga class that goes slow and really focuses on breathing techniques. For me, this class is over an hour away from where I live, but as soon as I am able to drive good, I will be taking that class again. Also, I do eye exercises that I learned from the doctor. Have you been tought any eye exercises? Its suppose to help get your inner ear and eyes working together/matching up correctly. Just let me know what kind of treatments or things you have tried to help with your headaches. I have very little headaches now. I still get some bad ones here and there but nothing like it use to be. I'm pretty lucky that the medication has worked on my 1st try. The doctor says it doesn't work for most people. Let me know what you have been doing to try to improve your headaches.