My apologies in advance for a very long first post.
6 years ago, while I was living at high altitude (along with wildly fluctuating barometric pressure) in Alberta Canada, I all of a sudden started getting almost-daily headaches. They were constant pressure, sometimes intensifying into severe throbbing pain, in no one place on my head, it shifted. I went to several doctors, numerous hospital ER visits and a list of drugs as long as my arm (literally!). Just over 2 years after the onset of this, I went to a lower altitude for a vacation and discovered that my headaches went away! Within 24 hours of my return home, my headache returned full force. To test my discovery, a few months later, I again went away to a lower altitude, and it happened again. I did the only sensible thing, I moved. My headaches were still more frequent than the 'norm' but bearable, and usually treatable with off the shelf medications.
After 3 1/2 years of being in a lower altitude, I went back to Alberta for a 5 day christmas visit with my mother. I thought myself very lucky, as I spent the entire 5 days headache-less. 2 days after my return home, I developed a headache. It is now almost 2 weeks later, and I still have the headache. I noticed at the time I developed the headache that the barometric pressure was fluctuating wildly, along with very odd weather patterns for this time of year. I have tried to seek medical help this past week, and I basically got told to take Tylenol and Aleve (Like I couldn't have done that without going to the hospital!).
I also get migraine with complicated aura, they call it, but only a few times per year, and it's totally different.
Does anyone have any advice on how to cope?? I have never even been tested (cat-scan, mri, etc), and every time I seek medical attention, they treat me like I'm a drugseeker, just because I tell them that the normal headache remedies don't work for me.
--Darianya, Frustrated and in pain!
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I suffer from migraines and cluster headaches. I know that changes in altitudes from driving through moutains and flying in airplaines will trigger bad headaches. Also I know that barometric changes will trigger headaches such as right before a snow storm or a rain storm comes in. I have arthritis in my one knee. Poeple say they can tell it is going to tell it is going to rain/snow by their joints. I can to. But I can feel it in my head also. It is very painful. However, this is just one of many other things that triggers my headaches such as heat, humidity, bananas, hormones, trigger migraines plus I get my daily cluster headaches.
You can get migraines without aroras. I would suggest you talk to a nuerologist recently. I understand completely about nothing over the counter working for you. Your neuro should be able to give you a preventative medicine (if you are having frequent headaches) and / or and abortive medicine to take when a headache occures. Work out a plan with your neuro. I take medicine x (Imitrix, zomig, erogot, migranol, maxalt,etc) when I have a ha. If that medicine doese not get rid of my headache than I will take a rescue medicine
Y (Percacet, Vicadin, Firoinal, etc.) If that rescue medicine fails then I will go into the ER for treatment.
Make sure you get a letter from your neurologist on dated clinical letterhead signed by him stating that you are being seen by him for mirgraines and occasionaly need a shot. Every time you need to go to ER make sure that slip is on you. If any dr. wants to give you any grief show him the letter. If he wont honor it ask for a second dr that will. I ran into a dr. in er that wouldn't and gave me a drug seeker look. I asked for 2nd dr. and he said we don't do things like that around here. I was made and said discharge me then. He wanted me to go home and take asprin/motrin which I had been doing for 24 hours already that hadn't been working. The nurse came in saw I was upset and said I could see a different dr. I was happy. The other dr. lied! The second dr. came in saw the note. Said it is dated, signed saw no problem with it, said you obviously have a migrain, you have obviously been here before, you know what works for you, and ordered my shot of dilaudid. I got the first drs. name and called the head of the medical dept. at the hospital the next day and filed a complaint. The director said we like the patient to have a dated note, signed, with dr. instructions. I said I did etc. The director got back to me. The dr. was wrong and was repremanded. He also wrote a letter to my personal physican telling him he thought I was a drug addict and needed to be cut off. I talked to my dr. about it and we just figured it was a personality conflict in the ER. Hoped I helped some. Good luck.
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I was beginning to feel like I was some kind of freak until I read your reply! Thank you. I do plan to see a neurologist as soon as I can. I once had a letter from a doctor (not a neurologist, though) saying about that exact thing. The ER had requested that I get such a letter if I was going to need a shot on a regular basis. The very first doctor to see that letter refused to honor the letter and gave me that drugseeker look. What he wanted to do was 'wean' me off. I've also had an ER doctor call my doctor at 2am to find out if I was really in pain. My doctor said I was, and the ER doctor refused to believe her and told me I was a drug addict to my face. It helps just to know that I am not alone and not a freak! I didn't know at the time that I could demand a second doctor. Thanks!
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I have been having migraines for over 20 years and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I figured out a lot of it was due to the weather. There isn't much to be done for that right now, unfortunately.
I understand about the Drs. Some of them think they know it all and that a person should be able to handle a "little" headache without drugs. It is very frustrating. One doctor I used to go to didn't believe I even had migraines!
Until I went online I thought I was the only one who got headaches from the weather. Glad (?) to know I am not.
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I am from Calgary. We get chinooks (what Dariana was describing with the wild pressure changes). I have has migraines ever since puberty. It is just something I live with. I find that Imitrex is a good migraine fighter, but the best preventative treatment is drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. It helps to keep the pressure in your brain as equivalent as the pressure outside. The barometric pressure is just one of my triggers. I don't always get the headache with every chinook. I have to have had other triggers as well, eat a tomato, cheese, red wine...
I've actually had testing now. My CT scan was normal, and I'm awaiting the results of the spine xrays. My neurologist says my headaches are so confusing as they have symptoms of migraines, cluster headaches as well as tension headaches. I've previously gone through all the normal migraine routine for these, keeping a diary of foods and stresses, running the drug gauntlet, so to speak, but after 6 years of these headaches, this is the first time someone took them seriously enough to bother doing a few simple things to rule out anything serious. The problem still remains about getting proper care when flare-ups occur, though. I don't know how to explain my circumstances in such a way that people believe I'm truly suffering, rather than just wanting a fix. Being allergic to codeine, I am feeling very much punished for that. Very few doctors are willing to explore any alternatives to that, and of course, saying you're allergic to the common medicines is one of those 'signals' of drugseekers, as is saying you have a headache.
Although, I dislike hearing that others are suffering, too, I am very glad to hear that I'm not abnormal, but rather just not common. All my research since this started indicates to me that doctors, in fear of addiction or something else that will come back to trouble them later, underestimate and undertreat pain as a matter of course, both in private practice and in the emergency departments. Some days, I wish they could experience what we experience, just for a while, so perhaps they'd have a little more empathy for people who are suffering than they do now. I am beginning to think it's not a problem with how I am handling it, but rather with how the medical profession is trained to handle it. Of course, there's little I can do in that case.
My almost-15 year old daughter just started with migraines about 2-3 months ago. She is on Vicodin (sp?) but because the school nurse will not give her something to eat - a pack of crackers, whatever! - if she takes it at school it makes her sick to her stomach so she has to come home. The school nurse wants her to take Imitrex (sp?) because other students do, but our doctor doesn't agree; says Imitrex is best when the patient has warning symptoms like auras, etc. so that it can be taken before the migraine has a chance to really take hold. The nurse at the doc's office thinks the school nurse is lazy, but my daughter is the one who is being put in the middle, AND she's missing school due to the situation. Megan's migraines come w/o ANY warning. She's stopped drinking soda w/ caffeine, chocolate, etc., and is keeping a food diary. Questions: does Imitrex work for you people if your migraines start w/o warning? How long till it starts working? Does it make you sleepy? There would be no sense in Megan staying at school and napping! LOL! I used to get migraines in H.S., but then seemed to grow out of them. Now I get what I call "my 3-day headaches"; do migraines run in families?
Imitrex doesn't help me at all, even for my migraines, although I'm told that it's supposed to work right away. However, if your daughter's doctor wants her to take a certain medicine he's got his reasons, and the school has absolutely no say in the matter. You can discuss the situation with the school's administrator, and demand that they provide something as simple as crackers, so your daughter can take her medicine, basically going over the nurse's head, so to speak. They have no right to interfere with a doctors care. I've had my share of dealings with schools! You can also buy crackers in those individually wrapped packages, and send them along with her to take the medicine with. Migraines can, and often do, run in families. My mother gets them, and one of my siblings used to. Hope this helps a little!
I have had migraines for over 20 years and barometric pressure change is my #1 trigger. I live in central Texas where, if you don't like the weather, just stick around,'cause it's bound to change.
I haven't tried anything preventative in years because nothing ever worked. However, recently I went to a neurologist who specializes in migraines. He prescribed Topomax. He wanted me to work up to 100 mg per day; but after working up to only 50, I have yet to have a migraine since I took my first pill two months ago - so I'm sticking with 50 mg as it's working for me. I'm still a skeptic, but I've got my (tingly) fingers crossed. Tingly fingers and toes are a side effect of the Topomax as is the weird phenomenon of not being able to "find" the word you're looking for in your brain! But dingy beats being in debilitating pain!
My biggest problem is in convincing a whole new set of doctors that my chronic headaches are not vascular, like migraines are. They do not respond to all the normal migraine treatment. I've tried Imitrex, and self-injected DHE, and neither of those had any effect at all on my chronic headaches, and none of the preventatives did, either. As a matter of fact, they had little effect on my actual migraines, too. They stopped the aura from developing, but did not stop the pain that occurs afterwards. However, I only get migraines maybe 2-4 times a year, and they aren't worth taking something every single day. It's the chronic headaches that they can't and won't do anything about that worry me. Most of the time, all I need is 1-3 doses of painkiller, and the cycle of pain-tension-pain is interrupted and everything is back to normal. But, Doctors seem so terribly worried that giving me a few doses of painkillers once or twice in a month will cause me to be addicted, when there is very little evidence to support that belief. (I've been doing research!) It is now my belief that some doctors (by no means do I mean ALL doctors) prefer to see their patients suffer, rather than trying to explore options that are out of the ordinary range of treatment. I don't expect them to know each and every drug in existance, but never once have I seen one do a little reading up to see what else might be out there. Certainly not in my presence. Unfortunately, those type of doctors seem to be the only ones who are taking patients in my area, currently. Most of them are also convinced that I cannot be correct in what triggers my non-vascular headaches. They firmly believe that weather changes ONLY cause migraines, no other type of headache. I'm currently trying to find somewhere that teaches relaxation and meditation techniques, as I'm having a hard time learning from books. Hopefully that will help.
Have you tried going to a headache clinic. There is usually one in a major city. As you suspect that you do not have migraines, and the doctors don't believe you, you should find a doctor that specializes in headaches. Not migraines hadaches. Good Luck.
Jester, I'm currently awaiting an appointment with yet another neurologist that specializes in headaches. But, that's not for more than 3 weeks. In the meantime, I'm exploring alternatives to control the stress/tension that even mild headaches cause, which usually results in more pain! It seems to be having a slight effect. However, I did go to a headache clinic during my first round of headaches, and they seemed more interested in my mental state than in my headaches, and they put me on all sorts of drugs that just made life not much worth living. I'm going to ask for a referral to the Pain Clinic here, but they apparently have a very long waiting list. Even most headache specialists don't believe that the weather can cause any kind of headache other than migraines, from what I hear. Hopefully your good luck wishes will help, as I (and most people with chronic pain) can use all the luck I can get!
I understand some of what you are going through. It took me several years to realize that I was having migraines and several more years to convince a doctor! All of the drugs I have tried so far don't work for more than a year or so then I become immune to them and they won't work for me even years later.
I can't even take hormones because they cause me to have severe migraines. I am trying a chiropractor. Just started this week. He seems to think he can help me and he does seem to be sincere about it. You may try that. A good one will give you an exam which includes x-rays. There could be some nerves pinched that you don't even know about. Just about anything is worth a try!
Vickie, thanks for your reply. I once tried going to see a chiropractor for a lower back problem, and ended up with a severe headache for 10 days afterwards. And the back problem was still there. I am now very wary of chiropractors, even though I realize that I probably just saw the wrong one. I've learned how to 'crack' my own back. I have had xrays and they show nothing wrong. As I've mentioned in other posts, I'm learning relaxation techniques and with the aid of a heating pad, they seem to allow me to release the tension that's causing most of my headache pain (Which, by the way, is not vascular in any way.. and is quite different from the migraines I get 3-4 times a year). It isn't perfect, it doesn't always work as well as I want it to, but it's better than popping pills that have the same or even less effect, and there's no side affects!
Sorry this is such a late reply. I went to the chiro for about 2 mos. It didn't help at all. At least not with my migraines but it did help my back, but I switched jobs so it's not much of a problem there anyway. But I had to give it a try.
Maxalt along with Codeine helps to get rid of the headache even if it can't prevent them. It's something anyway.