Skip to comments.Migraines (OT)
Posted on 01/05/2011 9:28:01 PM PST by MacMattico
A bit off topic, although Obama does tend to give me severe headaches.
I have a 12 year old daughter that has been suffering from pretty severe migraines for about two years, 2-3 a week, about 3 bad ones a month, w/out aura. I had migraines as a kid, into adulthood, and in my early forties still get one or two severe migraines, w/ aura per year. I use Maxalt for these, the only thing that even sort-of works, and I still need to lay down and ride it out for several hours.
The neurologist wants to put my daughter on a daily preventative. We agree with this, and she has tried a preventative before. The migraines had gotten better for a while so he had stopped daily meds, but she needs them, unfortunately, even at this young age. It effects her daily life so much.
We have tried Topamax (wasn't to bad, thought she was having some concentration problems and moodiness, now think this may have just been preteen daughter normal behavior, as it's still pretty much the same), Periactin (she gained 10 pounds in one month, which she lost as soon as this drug was stopped), and Lamictal (did nothing). The only two other drugs the neurologist will try is Elavil ( an old school antidepressant that is associated with large weight gain) and Inderol, a high blood pressured med associated with weigh gain and one that he said because she has low blood pressure to start with, may cause her to pass out! What kind of choices are these? We are looking for a new doctor/second opinion, but because a lot of people on this sight seem to know a lot about different subjects, I thought I'd ask for any advise/opinions. My daughter is an excellent athlete and student and these headaches are debilitating. Any ideas? Does anyone know if there's a way to combat the cognition problems caused by Topamax?
Have you ever heard of this medication?
I’d talk to a doc about it. Says for adults but maybe under a doc’s care she could take it.
I had an MRI for auras a while back, no headaches although the neurologist said I can expect them eventually. He suggested a magnesium supplement to ward them off. Might be worth a try, I doubt it would do any harm anyway.
So sorry your young daughter has to go through this! :(
They want to give her something that helps to avoid the migraines from occurring, I think that med is for after you’ve already got a migraine. I’ll look into it for when she has a headache, but by the time she reaches that point much of her day is ruined. :( Thanks, though!
It's what I use but my migraines may not be as painful as your daughter's.
Thanks, she’s taking magnesium but it doesn’t seemed to be doing much. Or maybe it is, she might be having even more headaches without it, who knows? For a while I just had the aura and that got me nervous but the doctor said even just the aura is considered a migraine. I did eventually get the pain part back with aura, but the pain isn’t as bad as it used to be. I hope you never get the pain and the other symptoms go away!
I have major migraines and my new miracle drug is Zomig. It’s changed my life because I now know I can kill my migraine with a zomig and if need be a second one after 2 hours. I don’t know how Zomig relates to someone as young as your daughter though. My only regret is that I didn’t know about it before, I could have saved myself a lot of anguish. That and it’s also pretty expensive. 6 pills cost about 90 bucks.
I’m no doctor but I don’t like the idea of a daily preventative. If Zomig is age-appropriate and approved for someone like your daughter I’d say go with that and have her carry around a couple in her pocket at all times. I know I sound like I work for Zomig but it’s given me the confidence know I can zap the migraine. Before I tried immitrex and sometimes it didn’t work.
A couple of other things...chocolate and coffee are MAJOR migraine triggers and have to be avoided whenever possible.
Unfortunately doesn’t work. At first seemed to take the edge off but not to much anymore. :(
Migraines are the worst especially when accompanied with aura and nausea.
Ask your doctor about Naprosyn.
Sorry about the typos.
You might also ask around for a good acupuncturist. Not as a cure but as a way to lessen the severity of the migraines.
I have had some nasty migraines w/o aura for the past 15 years. My doctor prescribed two different drugs during those years that I refused to take because of their side effects. I usually suffered through the attacks until recently when I decided to take over-the-counter Excedrin for Migraine. THIS IS A MIRACLE DRUG! My pain is COMPLETELY gone within 1/2 hour of taking this stuff. It’s worth a try.
My husband took Fiorinal at the onset. Within a year of treating his original 2-3 times weekly migraines he stopped having them. No idea if he outgrew them (he was in his 30’s) or if the medication “cured” him.
Check into Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Pristiq.
A neighbor mentioned that. I’ll look into it. Thanks.
Is Cymbalta the med closely related to Lexapro? I did meet someone that said that worked for them.
That’s nice it works but the product is merely aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine in one tablet or caplet.
Yes and no. Cymbalta is an antidepressant as is Lexapro. However, Cymbalta treats pain. Many diabetics suffering from neuropathy take it as do Fibromyalgia patients.
Cymbalta will make her lose weight. Lexapro will make her gain it.
Amazing - three basic ingredients in one pill and it’s what knocks the headaches down for me. I now carry two tablets with me everyday just in case one flares up. My coworker recently had a nasty migraine (you could see it in her eyes) and I gave her my pills. She was thanking me for the rest of the day for handing them to her.
I would stick with Topamax, but gradually cut back on the dosage every week until the side effects are minimal and yet the migraines are under control. When you find a drug that works the next step is adjusting the dosage, which can take time. There may also be an opportunity here for a cocktail approach by using a little of one drug and some of another and using trial and error to find a good combination. All under doctor’s supevision of course.
When there is no apparent trigger, be suspicious of a) a food allergy or b) a hormone fluctuation.
1. Have your daughter tested for food allergies, especially gluten. Most insurance companies will pay for it when a neurologist orders it.
2. Have your daughter’s hormone levels tested, not just female hormones such as FSH, estrogen, progesterone, etc., but the entire endocrine system. Seek an endocrinologist for that.
Many meds list weight gain or weight loss as a side effect, but doesn't necessarily mean that each person will experience that.
I'm going to send you a PM about details, hope it helps.
I, too, thank God daily for finding Maxalt. Over the years, my doctor thought my headaches were hormonal. There is a diagnosis of hormonal migraines. They were like clockwork. At times in our lives, puberty, menopause, etc. when hormones are out of whack, the headaches can be more frequent and numerous. You might try that approach.
Topamax is very debilitating mentally. Computational, spelling and verbal skills really diminish. It’s terrible for side effects.
Have her avoid all chocolate, especially dark. Cured and/or fermented foods can trigger also, especially strong aged cheese, etc. Eat meals on a regular schedule, do not skip any. Also have her be sure to stay hydrated.
Best of luck. The above will help as much or more than the topamax.
Go to Google and type in “bubble test migraines”. Read some of the articles that come up. Maybe your daughter would be a candidate for that treatment.
Sorry about your daughter’s suffering.
Considering how often she has the migraines, I hope her neurologist did order an MRI, just to rule out more serious problems, if not, at this point, I would insist on one.
I knew someone, a young adult at the time who was suffering from migraines about as bad as your daughter — she was eating a lot of processed foods with preservatives, on her own she got the idea that there may be a correlation and stopped eating any processed foods for a period of time and her migraines went away completely. Now she can eat processed foods occasionally and she is still migraine free, years later. She did not go on any strict “no sugar, no fat, no this that or the other things” diet, just cut out things like salami, icecream with preservatives, in favor of natural preparations, so it was not hard, just had to watch what she ate.
Some do say that certain food can trigger migraines, or preservatives can build up in the system and cause it. I think it may be worth a try to put her on a preservative-free diet for a month or so, if it’s working, you would start to see the difference. Also make sure she has enough vitamins in her system, especially B and C vitamins, fresh fruit, etc.
I hope you find a cure without the meds.
Also — did you check her vision, if she does’t have 20/20 vision and one of her eyes is more nearsighted and the other is more far sighted, that imbalance can cause migraines as well.
Also talk to your doc about carbamazepine or gabapentin. I’ve used both. Carbamazepine worked great, but I was overdosed the first couple of months and was miserable until I worked out the dosage. However it may not be appropriate for a younger person though if they can’t recognize changes in their own behavior and report these. Gabapentin caused weight gain and constipation, so it was not for me, but I have friends who do really well with it.
Yes, she’s had an MRI. We’ve had her vision checked. We try to eat fresh and healthy, doesn’t always work, but it hasn’t helped much.
Excellent advice. Ditto all of it!
Sorry to hear it’s such a stubborn case.
Don’t give up searching — try other neurologists, there may be others out there who are more knowledgeable, including seeing some at reputable universities, who do research in this areas.
Also do researh natural treatments like herbs, accupuncture, etc, things that may or may not help, but they won’t hurt and maybe you find something that actually does help.
The meds you are describing with all the side effects do sounds like a last resort.
Good luck! I know migraines are difficult to treat/prevent.
My 12 year old son has had migraines for 3 or 4 years now. He takes topamax, and it seems to help. We recently had to up the dosage, as what he was on seemed to quit working until we increased it. He is still on a very small dosage though.
In the meantime, we have done a lot to try to see if we can find a trigger. My husband’s (with aura) were triggered by a change in stress level.... either an increase or decrease. My son’s seem to be tied to chocolate, caffeine or dehydration. It is hard to tell because the chocolate/caffeine deal seems to be about 12-24 hours removed from the headache, and getting him to drink anything at all is like pulling teeth, so he seems to live in a chronic state of dehydration.
The school nurse and I have had a number of long conversations about them. She was recently at a seminar and said if they are not hormonal then they are generally caused by the “3 C’s”.... Chocolate, Caffeine, Cheese.
I finally remembered something else, a natural remedy that worked very well for a friend of mine — I was doubtful, it’s herbs with sublingual delivery, but she swears by it, and since it’s natural, again, it’t unlikely that it’s harmful. She takes it at the very beginning of a migraine, when she feels it coming on. It’s not expensive, you might want to check it out.
But he has been putting in long hours recently.
My daughter, age 17, this past fall was tested for migraines.
Her doctor put her on pills that are not preventive, but she takes right when she needs it. She is on Sumatriptan. It has done well for her. She used to get migraines 2 to 3 times a week. Nothing she used would stop them. Since she has been on this medication, she has done much better. Some weeks she doesn’t need it at all. But it did take a short time to learn to time the medication correctly. You have to take it right when you need it. No waiting.
I understand that very few places still carry these tablets, and your doctor may have to do some research on them. There are some strong considerations for using them on a long term basis as a preventive, but as a treatment, it would take an episode that would last two to three hours and make it a fifteen minute ordeal, and when used as a preventative, eliminated the problem for me.
Treatment costs as a preventative is roughly $1.25 per day. Since she's having them so frequently, a small prescription filled from an online supplier (IndianDrugs is the only one I know at this time, I still order a small amount each year to refresh my emergency stock in case my present treatments lapse and I again suffer the migraines) to try it out as a treatment and see if it does have a strong effect on mitigation, and then perhaps trying it as a preventative.
Imitrex (or its generic - Sumitriptan Succinate) is the magic bullet for me, but I get migraines infrequently enough to treat them after the premonition.
I have found that, on the recommendation of my neurologist, cutting back on Aspartame (Nutrasweet) flavored diet soft drinks and substituting Splenda flavored soda has reduced the incidence of migraines by about 60%.
No offense intended, I'm not picking on your post, just please be aware, something that is 'natural' does not mean it's 'not harmful.' Arsenic, belladonna, and many other 'natural' things out there can be extremely harmful to your system. And most modern drugs have their basis, even for synthesized drugs, from 'natural' sources. Willow bark contains salines, and aspirin is derived from it, so always, always, always tell your doctor if you try any homeopathic solutions, and what the contents are.
You are, for all intents and purposes, just taking differently labeled over the counter drugs.
I would NEVER put a young student on Topamax with its serious neuro-intellectual side effects. In fact, I would not put her on ANY of those daily “preventive” drugs! Drugging a young girl cannot be the only solution.
Has she been to a good and new-thinking endocrinologist? Her migraines could very well be from her hormonal changes. I would want her to see an endo who specializes in bio-identical hormone replacement, NOT a conventional endo. I would ask to have her hormones checked at different times of the month / day, I’d want her to have a migraine chart to let the doc know at what times in her cycle she has them or has them the most, and I would want her to have them adjusted in the most natural way possible by only vaginal or topical bio-identical hormones, in order to bypass the digestive system and the liver assault. Rubbing a little estrogen on her skin at some times if the fluctuations of that hormone seems to be causing the migraines is not as harmful to your little girl as going on the oral Pill, with its fake progestin that can have bad effects.
While the doc is figuring all of this out, I would get from your regular doc or anyone a prescription for Frova or another -triptan drug, for her to use at the first onset of a migraine. It’s a rescue drug and it will prevent migraines wonderfully if used at the first sign. She will need to carry this around so get permission so she can do this. The side effects are minimal and will not affect her cognition at all, nor make her sleepy.
I do think that getting her young teen hormones regulated to a nice pattern, with a -triptan drug like Frova always with her for emergencies, she can be migraine-free or close to it with minimal drugging.
Been there, done that.
Also, have you totally searched your daughter’s diet? You probably have. If not, do not let her eat ANYTHING with MSG. It hides in everything processed so be aware. MSG is the worst migraine trigger you can find.
It is in: all commercial crackers, most chips, goldfish crackers, all canned or packaged soups, all packaged rice mixes, all commercial frozen meals, all chicken nugget style things, all pre-cooked roasted chicken*, all hot dogs, most processed meats, all commercial salad dressings, all fast food#, cottage cheese, lots of cheap breads, etc.
*They literally inject MSG and water into those supermarket and costco warm roasted chickens — that is why it has that taste. Fast food chicken like Koo Koo Roo has it in there too.
#Not In and Out Burger, though.
I may have forgotten some things. Basically everything commercial and packaged. She should ONLY eat clean organic meat, dairy, breads, nut butters, veggies, fruit, etc.
To be avoided with extreme prejudice also: ANYTHING with food colorings in it, and ANY diet foods. This means all chewing gum and most mints, sorry sweetie, because they all have aspartame, a poison that can also cause a migraine.
It is very hard for a young teen not to eat the junk their friends are eating. But with her reactions, I’d not touch anything commercial except some very pure snacks like Larabars, which are only dried fruit and nuts.
Of course you can get migraines without eating a trigger food but they can really mess you up. Also she needs to make sure she is regular because constipation can cause migraines too.
Good luck to her — I wish no one else had to ever suffer these.
Drop all the “diet drink” poison. Even if Splenda does not give you a migraine, it’s killing you. Switch to natural sodas with cane sugar if you can’t stand water.
Splenda is chlorinated sugar and it will kill ants. Stay away from it.
Indeed, and it works great for me as well, though I usually must take three for them to kick my headache. Also Walmart's generic is identical, and it's dirt cheap.
The docs don't let an asprin anywhere near a twelve year old, however. Reye's Syndrome is often fatal, and headache can be an early flu symptom.
Yep. There's a website out there called "thetopamaxtrip" or something to that effect, and I was all over it when docs were suggesting it for me. People post their side affects and issues.
They appropriately refer to it as "Dope-a-max." If you don't have ADD yet, you will.
"Hmm,...great. No pain, but I'll be bitchy and stupid."
Took a pass.
Try transdermal Magnesium oil instead. Apply it on the skin. It should absorb in 20 minutes. It may sting a bit in the beginning. I use the brand Ancient Minerals but there are others available. Whenever I feel any pain, even arthritis in my hands, I apply this and the pain is gone in just a few seconds. No joke. Even I am surprised. I haven't had a migraine lately to test if this works on them, maybe it is preventing them.
Well the school nurse isn’t very well informed about migraines. During a migraine, the blood vessels expand/dilate. During a headache, the blood vessels constrict. (They’re exactly the opposite in nature. Head pain vs. head ache, essentially.)
Caffeine causes the blood vessels to constrict. So caffeine is “bad” for headache but “good” for migraines. Note that many migraine drugs actually have caffeine in them.
Not all cheese is bad. Aged cheese is generally bad for migraine.
And not everyone who has migraines is affected by chocolate. I have had severe migraines for years. I drink chocolate milk like a fiend. Everybody said “There’s your problem!” I cut out all chocolate for 6 months. No reduction in the migranes, no increased when I resumed eating chocolate, and no direct correlation to eating it before a migraine.
Each person’s triggers are different. There is no “standard.”
I'll post more tomorrow, I have thirty years of trial and error on this, and I stay away from the strong Rxs as much as possible.
Migraine isn’t a headache.
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