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TURRRRA Posts: 1,572
3/17/11 3:07 P

I am likely going to be switching to Topamax for my preventive medication very soon! Although I hear of many side effects, I hear that it greatly helps other people. I'm willing to risk getting those side effects because anything is better than the migraines.

I'll definitely look into the sugar-free items. I do chew gum regularly because the medication I'm taking gives me a very, very dry mouth. I find that I absolutely have to have gum or something else, or sip water constantly (which will NOT work during meetings or my bladder will get too full). I never chew gum with sugar because of the teeth problems it can cause and the bad breath after the mint flavor fades away. I guess I'll have to try to figure out a good alternative, but I'm not sure what.

When I have a migraine, I usually have a diet soda with my medicine and it HELPS me greatly! Maybe I should only have artificial sweetener in small amounts. I don't like regular soda with sugar and diet sodas are the one thing I crave pretty often, and it's one of those little things that makes me feel happy during the day. I can definitely brainstorm to see if I can find a better replacement. What about sweeteners like Splenda? I know some diet drinks use Splenda and I like those just as much.

I am very excited, because in addition to my neurologist, I'm going to a headache institute to be evaluated for possible physical therapy. It sounds like an awesome doctor that treats cervical spine problems that may cause headaches with basic exercises. Since I have sinus pressure, ear ringing, TMJ disorder symptoms, and a sore neck/shoulders, it sounds like I may benefit from this.

PUPPETGIRLKY SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 2,866
3/13/11 11:54 P

I takE Topamax and Imitrex for mine. I don't eat anything sugarfree because I've found a little sugar does not hurt me near as bad as all the ingredients in the sugarfree foods. Aspartame is in everything sugarfree and some gums and mints that are not sugarfree. I had to give up my Diet drinks and all my favorite gums that kept me from eating so much., I drink more water now...just plain without the flavor pacts that I loved so much.

AKGAL09 Posts: 350
3/13/11 10:57 P

Always make sure that you are staying hydrated and getting enough sleep. These are two of my biggest triggers.

FITGLAMGIRL Posts: 2,045
3/13/11 9:12 P

My husband was getting migraines when he introduced aspartame into his system. Once we figured that out, he no longer eats or drinks anything with aspartame and they have completely disappeared. Good luck!

TURRRRA Posts: 1,572
3/13/11 5:04 P

JENG829, I am so glad that you have found improvement with eating low carb! I definitely notice myself feeling worse if I'm eating too much sugar and too many carbs. Luckily though, just not overdoing it with the carbs seems to work very well for me. I still eat bread and all, but I limit my portions and make sure to eat lots of lean protein and less processed foods. Definitely helps :)

I think in the next few days, I'll be calling my doctor to switch my migraine preventive medicine. Nortriptyline just hasn't been helping as much as I hoped, and I can't raise the dosage or I start getting an irregular heartbeat that keeps me up at night (and also is a migraine trigger).

I also want to look into my neck sometime, as I've heard that some headaches/migraines can be bothered more by neck problems. My neck crackles/pops VERY often without me even moving my neck, so I wonder if there is a lot of stress on my cervical spine or neck muscles. I've heard of some people who did basic physical therapy or neck exercises and found tremendous relief!

JENG829 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 791
3/12/11 2:21 A

Hi TURRRRA... Thanks for sharing your story; it sounds a lot like me. I've had to deal with migraines for about 15 years, but luckily mine respond to Imitrex if I can take it early, before it gets too bad.

My triggers are also sugar, wine, sunlight... And for the past few years I've been experimenting even more...Ike having too much sugar with no protein or fat would result in migraines. If I ate protein or fat with the sugar, I was ok. Also nit eating every few hours led me to realize my blood sugar was out of whack. I've been doing a lower carb way of eating the past 4-5 months and haven't had a single migraine. And I can go 5 or more hours between meals, which I could never do before.

I know a lot of people won't try lower carb eating, and equate it with Atkins, and that's ok... It's not for everyone. Jut wanted to throw that out there as an idea in case it helps.

Good luck to you, and good health!

TURRRRA Posts: 1,572
3/11/11 8:40 P

Hi MARISSAC1273, hope your headaches get better with time too! Like you, I try to do similar exercises with a mild headache and avoid vigorous cardio. My migraines get where I can't stand or anything, so on those days, I just try to sleep. If I'm not feeling well, I tend to be lower on calories anyway, so I imagine it evens out in the end. I guess I'll just aim to keep doing little things when I can :)

MARISSAC1273 Posts: 970
3/10/11 3:12 P

Ah! I feel for all of you! I have headaches too. I really haven't read all of the posts on here, but usually when I do have a migraine or headache I tend to stick with any kind of muscle toning exercises. Sometimes cardio is just too much head bobbing for me. My neurologist also suggested to drink more low-calorie sports drinks (such as G2 or Powerade Zero) to help with headaches, especially with exercising. Yoga is also an awesome tension reliever too!

Hope everyone is feeling well!

TURRRRA Posts: 1,572
3/10/11 1:50 P

Thanks again for the replies! I appreciate all of the support and hope that anyone struggling with this or something similar finds relief with time.

BONOLICIOUS2 - That form of exercise does sound interesting. Laying down yet getting in some exercises sounds great! I'd imagine that this would be good for regular headache days, but of course with a severe migraine, no exercise. I've tried pilates and yoga on days when I don't feel great but not my absolute worst, and a lot of the movement like the downward dogs, make my head feel pretty bad. I'd say walking is probably the easiest to do in those situations.

KEL_CE - You are very right, so I need to work on catching my migraines ASAP. I now carry around various medicines with me at all times in my purse. I really like the dissolving Maxalt tabs because you don't need water. I have literally taken them while I was driving, which was very good. The medicine still lets my function and just might make me a little sleepy, but nothing bad. While driving, I decided it would be MUCH safer to get a little bit sleepier and relaxed rather than have a migraine. Driving with a full-on migraine would be worse than drunk driving! Medicines have definitely been improving, which is wonderful.

KEL_CE Posts: 1,988
3/10/11 12:18 P

You have a lot of triggers. Some are avoidable like the chocolate, some you can manage, like the stress and some are out of your control like the strong scents.

Just do the best to manage the triggers you can. Because you have so many it's hard but if you can knock out the triggers you have control over it'll reduce the migraines greatly.

Usually it's best to do the caffeine before the pain and other symptoms get too bad. I usually down a soda right when I feel the first inkling of light sensitivity. Sometimes if you wait too far into the migraine and have something with caffeine it can make the symptoms worse. At least that's what I've found to be true for me.

I don't remember what meds I was on for my migraine. Mine started in the 1st grade. They had me on something but I'd be a zombie all day everyday. They decided to take me off of it because I was basically checked out all the time(mind you this was back in the early 90's so I'm sure changes and improvements have been made).

Since my migraines were stress induced and my stress came from going to school my migraines were predictable. They kept pain medication in the nurses office for me to take every monday after coming back to school from the weekend. Looking back I think it only helped me make it through the school day as the pain would usually reach a fever pitch at the end of the day and I'd puke first thing after getting home. It sounds like the medicines have come a long way! I wish I had them when I was growing up!

3/10/11 10:44 A

Ugh, I feel for you. I get migraines too and it is awful!

I will say that there are still days where it is just too much and I skip the gym. There are days where I go but I only do weights. When I have a migraine, it feels kind of like my heart is pounding in my head so I try to keep my rate down.

Someone recently told me there is a form of exercise where its basically stretching while laying on the floor. I forget the same, I have been meaning to research it for myself. Maybe you could find some information too!

I also agree with everyone here - knowing your triggers, being able to prevent them as much as possible, and/or knowing how to manage them either with meds or naturally will really help. And try to step it up more on the days where you feel okay!


KANDKFAM1 Posts: 172
3/9/11 8:40 P

I have had headaches for the past week or so and it does negatively affect my exercise plans. I am trying to keep it going, but it is tough. Thanks for sharing and letting some of us know that we aren't the only ones.

ELYZABETH23 Posts: 314
3/9/11 7:19 P

I go to a neurologist for migraines too but mine are under control for the most part now and have been for a few months now. I take Topamax and in the case that I get a sudden migraine that hits me I have Stadol nasal spray for emergencies. I was guinea pigged on a lot of other things first however before we finally found something that worked for me. I even had one drug that was given to me in an "air shot" and that hurt worse than an actual needle would have! I have somewhat of an idea of what your going thru although.

LORI_CLAIRE SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 88
3/9/11 6:37 P

For me, the day or two after a migraine is horrible...I don't even want to get out of bed! Luckily, I don't get them often anymore. I find that staying really well hydrated takes the edge off of those after-migraine days. Usually I don't work out hard, I just go for a walk.

TURRRRA Posts: 1,572
3/9/11 11:53 A

Thank you all for your replies! I definitely think doing something low-key, like walking, will work best on "sensitive days." I feel like I have a lot of those days where I don't have a migraine, but I am sensitive from having one recently or feel achy from a different kind of headache. Either way, I definitely don't want them coming on worse! I have replies to each of you below... LONG post...

KEL_CE, I definitely try to do as you do with the laying down and just completely trying to relax as much as possible when it happens. With a severe migraine, I am completely beat down and can't function, so I take a sick day and stay in bed (or lay in the bathroom if I am throwing up) until I feel well enough to get up to move around in my home. Like you, I notice that something with a little bit of caffeine (like a soda) helps me. I just have to wait until I can keep things down in my stomach. Once I can, I start to feel better and know it's leaving. Laying down alone unfortunately doesn't work for me, but that with the medicines will help with some time. My triggers are chocolate, wine, too much sugar at once, going too long without eating, certain strong scents, lack of sleep, too much sunlight, stress/crying, and allergies. I'm sure there are a few other little ones, but those are what comes to mind right now.

77PINKLADY, I definitely found that keeping track of my migraines was very helpful. That's why I know what all of my triggers are (I never really get an unknown migraine - maybe for a tension headache, but I always know why I got a migraine) and also how I know that my worst ones are related to my menstrual cycle (it happens EVERY time during my period). I definitely will watch my food. I took some breaks from cheese to see if aged cheeses were a trigger for me, but didn't seem to be a connection. The good thing is that I seem to be keeping everything under control right now, and hope to see continued progress! I have never been to the ER for migraines- but honestly, I get too out of it to even be able to call for help at my worst :( I once just was going to call my husband and ask him to come home and never seemed to make that call go through. I also didn't even know that the ER could help and thought that they would only be willing to make sure you were not dying and address any life-threatening issues (i.e. ruptured aneurysm), but it's very good to know that they can help with severe pain. For now on, I will make every attempt to call my husband for help if I suspect things will get bad. I was very concerned about weight gain, but the nortriptyline and maxalt-mlt do not seem to cause any for myself (thankfully). I have actually noticed myself to be less hungry at times, which has been nice. I am considering topamax if the nortriptyline doesn't offer more help soon, but I will be SURE to request generic only. My insurance doesn't cover the name brand topamax, so it would be hundreds every month. The generic is only $10 per month. Luckily the maxalt-mlt is covered, so it's $30 per month for the allowable amount of pills.

BESSY08, thanks for sharing your experience! I've been on the same pill for about 10 years and haven't had the migraines the whole time. Since I get menstrual migraines due to a drop in estrogen levels (when I am taking the placebo pills), it seems that the pill itself actually helps prevent them for me. I skip the placebo pills every other month and the menstrual migraines do NOT occur during that time. I might get lesser intense, moderate migraines from other things, but I know what caused them and they aren't severe. Unfortunately my body had trouble with skipping more than a month of the placebo pills... I was bleeding a little bit nonstop and then got a migraine anyway! Seems like the every other month period thing is working out pretty well though!

BESSY08 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 2
3/8/11 8:19 P

I was taking birth control for about 13 years and within the last year went off of it and my migraines/tension headaches cut more then in half. Not sure if you are taking it, but something to look at. Some doctors say it doesn't cause headaches but my sister gets the same thing. Also, I had a friend that was getting bad headaches and she went to a neurologist too. Finally they took her wisdom teeth out and her headaches dropped a lot too.

Hope you feel better. I've had headaches since I've been 5 my mom says (25 yrs) so I know how you feel.

Edited by: BESSY08 at: 3/8/2011 (20:20)
77PINKLADY Posts: 612
3/8/11 7:38 P

Be deligent with a headache diary. If you are already journaling your food that will help too. Watch out for the meds causing weight gain. Depakote killed me...15 pound gain in one month! I traded one problem for another there. Switched to a blood pressure med called propranolol and have been great since. Topomax is great too if you have good insurance-too expensive on mine so that's why the switch to propranolol. Also take Axert if one gets started-works like a charm. Might still get a dull ache but nothing like what I used to get that would land me in the ER for hours.

On the days where you aren't feeling yourself, you can just do something mild. Take a walk or yoga. Something's better than nothing. Anyway--good luck to you.

KEL_CE Posts: 1,988
3/8/11 4:09 P

Do you mind me asking what your triggers are? Mine was stress and my migraines became nonexistent. I know food is a big trigger for some. Chocolate, gluten, nuts etc have all been known to trigger a migraine.

I know you're on meds but now when I feel a migraine coming along I drink a soda, lay down and take a breather. That's stopped every migraine that I've felt creeping up on me.

As for pushing through a migraine just the memory of the pain I can't think of any way to work out while having one. Your best bet is to get to the root of what's causing them and go from there.

I wish you the best!

TURRRRA Posts: 1,572
3/8/11 3:23 P

Hi Jeff,

I am no longer getting the heart palpitations. They were one of the "serious side effects" from the medication I am taking. I was accidentally told to take 3 pills each night from the start, when I should have started with 1 and built my way up. Now that my dosage has been dropped, I am no longer getting the palpitations. My doctor told me to watch out for them and let them know if it occurs again. Thanks!

Since the palpitations are no longer an issue (and they never bothered workouts), my concern now rests with the migraines and even regular headaches.

MULEDOGGIE SparkPoints: (83,182)
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Posts: 1,362
3/8/11 2:35 P

I have a condition that might be similar to your mentioned "heart palpitations". It is called atrial fibrillation. You should definitely describe this to your doctor, just to be safe.

Best wishes with your goals,


TURRRRA Posts: 1,572
3/8/11 2:02 P

I'm currently seeing a neurologist for treatment of my migraines and regular headaches. For whatever reason, I chose to let myself suffer and not do anything about it for years, but I am finally taking a step in the right direction and looking for help with treating them. I have made many lifestyle changes to avoid the various triggers I have, but also did get put on medication. Overall, I am very positive about getting through this! I am ready to feel well. I have a bit of a feeling of emptiness inside because I feel like the migraines are stealing my life away. I want to get rid of that for good!

Unfortunately, with my sensitive head, I haven't been able to work out as vigorous as I used to. I used to run about 20 miles a week and lift weights. My "runner's knee" was getting a bit out of control, so I've been using the elliptical and doing various exercise dvd's and weights. I really enjoy working out! I jsut feel like too many days, I either have a migraine and can't stand or walk, had a migraine and need to rest to continue to recover, or I have a regular headache that still makes me feel wiped out and achy. When I work out, my headaches increase in intensity and might turn into a migraine. My severe migraines will make me feel "off" for about a week after, or at least for several days. I have vertigo all the time that makes me feel tipsy (but not in a fun way). All of this gets frustrating!

I'm taking daily medication to prevent migraines and have pain medication to take when they occur. I'm still trying to find the right combination (hopefully soon!). I recently had the daily medication cause heart palpitations and could not sleep until the morning because my heart was pounding so hard and fast. Got that under control. Yesterday I felt like I was going to fall asleep in the middle of running, but I made it through the workout!

If any of you go through something similar (even if not migraines - could be any kind of pain/health issue that prevents many of your workouts), what do you do to continue to succeed? I haven't gained weight since I try to keep a balanced diet. I eat treats every now and then, but I keep it balanced out with lots of lean protein, fruits, and veggies. I know I need to watch my diet if I'm not able to work out as hard. Some days I just do a quick 15-20 minute workout if that's all I feel I can do. My husband is doing the Insanity program and I really want to do it too, but my head can't tolerate a lot of jumping and landing. I've done some of the workouts but modify them to be a smaller and softer landing jump.

I feel like I've been working out about 3 times a week now. I used to do 5-6 days, so it's disappointing that my body isn't letting me. Should I maybe work on getting more rest/sleep? I know I'm very tired. I can tolerate walking with regular headaches of course, but not at all with migraines. Sometimes I feel too scared to do anything after I start to feel better because I don't want to cause the migraine to come back.

Also, I am starting a new daily medication in about 2 weeks if mine doesn't seem to start helping me more before then! My doctor said it should be giving me more benefits than I'm noticing. Part of it has to do with things I can't really escape - they were painting at work and the fumes made me feel awful, dust/mold at work, weather changes, etc.

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