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Medical people--Headache question(s)

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Okay so I get these periods of horrible headaches. I thought it was because I was trying to taper down my caffeine (but they come on with or without the caffeine).


Here's the description of them:

For a period of a few months (3-4 at a time) I get severe debilitating migraines. I am exhausted during them. My eyes hurt, sensitive to noise and lights. I get overheated easily...hot flashes it almost seems like. My shoulders and my neck get SUPER tight and uncomfortable. I am super lethargic during these episodes. The pain is behind my eyes and across my forehead into my temples. I also get really muffled ears (like when you are congested) and sometimes ringing in my ears.


My solutions:

I have tried using caffeine, tylenol, excedrin migraine, rest, hydration. Everything I know of.


The only thing that really makes a dent is the Excedrin. However I can't take it right now because of the infertility treatments we are having.


I am tired of having 3-4 months of debilitating headaches and losing part of my life. Any ideas from the folks here at TWTM? Should I bother seeing a doctor about this? We are military, so I don't know how much tricare will really give a crap or if the treatment facility I go to is worth fighting with. I mean I don't want to live like this but at the same time what if it's nothing and I just waste time?

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I have chronic migraines (daily if not on my meds) and I also have tension headaches, which can trigger even more migraines. I would go see your PCM and maybe get a referral to a neuro. I'm on Tricare and have been seeing neurologists for 10 years to help with my headaches. They've been great about working with me through 4 pregnancies and nursing. Some of my treatments aren't currently covered under Tricare if I go to a civilian neurologist but are covered at a military hospital. I see my neurologist more than I see my PCM. ;)

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I have no idea re: fertility treatments, but would start with asking the fertility doc about causes/options from that end. And then go further with other docs. You can't live that way, it's no quality life, and please do what you can to get help.


I have a history of headaches that sound similar. Again, though, the fertility treatment changes things... What worked for me may not be an option for you. My neck and shoulders would spasm and it would turn into a migraine triggering the spasms or the spasms triggering the migraines, and the two would build off each other. So my doc Rx'd Axert at the first sign (that was the only migraine med that worked), Valium at bedtime (or if DH was here for childcare, at the first sign) to hit the spasms, and Advil. Then a dark room and sleep if at all possible. With kids, I usually depended on the Axert to take the edge off till bed. The other component - physical therapy for the neck & shoulders. Ask around for a physical therapist good with headaches. They're out there!


Not sure any of that will help because of fertility/possible pregnancy issues. But I wanted to share because of the neck/shoulder similarity.


Hope you feel better soon.

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Sounds like cluster headaches - a form of migraines.

I would look into the hormones you may be taking in your treatments. I know I had to stop taking B/C pills because they caused my migraines....


I'm not currently on anything. Our next cycle we begin Letrozole for ovulation induction. I just need to make sure anything I take is compatible with pregnancy and Letrozole


I have chronic migraines (daily if not on my meds) and I also have tension headaches, which can trigger even more migraines. I would go see your PCM and maybe get a referral to a neuro. I'm on Tricare and have been seeing neurologists for 10 years to help with my headaches. They've been great about working with me through 4 pregnancies and nursing. Some of my treatments aren't currently covered under Tricare if I go to a civilian neurologist but are covered at a military hospital. I see my neurologist more than I see my PCM. ;)

Thank you. That is very helpful. I am coming from a system where they told me over and over and over again that there is nothing wrong with me (the MTF in Bangor, WA) and then seeing other people it's "hey guess what you've got X problem"

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My mom had terrible migraines to the point that they mimicked stroke symptoms. She ended up having botox injections in and around her scalp and they really helped! She gets them about every 3-4 months and it has been a miracle for her.



Good luck with the fertility treatments...I've BTDT ;)

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I am coming from a system where they told me over and over and over again that there is nothing wrong with me (the MTF in Bangor, WA) and then seeing other people it's "hey guess what you've got X problem"

Have you asked for a referral to neurology? My PCM is at Naval Hospital Bremerton and I see the neuro there. I also have a referral down to the neurologists at Madigan and I go there quarterly for procedures that the local neuro can't perform. My PCM was useless and I just told him that I wanted a referral to neurology, that Family Practice wasn't the appropriate care setting for my issues.

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Have you asked for a referral to neurology? My PCM is at Naval Hospital Bremerton and I see the neuro there. I also have a referral down to the neurologists at Madigan and I go there quarterly for procedures that the local neuro can't perform. My PCM was useless and I just told him that I wanted a referral to neurology, that Family Practice wasn't the appropriate care setting for my issues.


Im not there anynore. We are in SC now so I will be calling once I roll out of bed. My PCM at Bangor was terrible for most things, nice guy but didn't understand that I'm not coming in as a hypochondriac. I know something is up with my body.


Woke up with residual pain this morning again so I'm sure I will be miserable by the end if the day.

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Sorry that you're suffering from this. I have found that more than anything else magnesium helps me immensely. I can tell a huge difference when I forget to take magnesium as opposed to when I remember.


Here's lots of info. Hope reading this doesn't exacerbate your pain. It is overwhelming and I apologize. If I was to do just one thing, I would take magnesium supplements.



A magnesium deficiency is implicated in an unusually high amount of health problems including migraines.

A number of scientific studies found low levels of magnesium in people with migraines. Many women with monthly migraines have low blood levels of magnesium. There’s a strong correlation between migraines and hormonal fluctuations. Estrogen hormones (right before, during, or immediately after your period) can block the body’s absorption of magnesium, leading to low blood levels of this mineral.

Since magnesium is a safe nutrient to take in large amounts, you may want to simply increase your magnesium intake. Take as much as you can without getting uncomfortably loose stools. Start by taking 400 mg twice a day. Take with meals to ensure optimal absorption.

You can safely take up to 1200 mg a day.

And remember that the more calcium you take, the more magnesium you need. Try cutting back on calcium while you increase your magnesium and see how this change affects your migraines.

For most people on a healthy diet, 500 mg of each supplement should be enough.

If you have symptoms of magnesium deficiency (and most of us do) – if you’re feeling edgy, have muscle cramps, suffer insomnia, crave chocolate, or notice increased urination, adjust your calcium-magnesium ratio, so that you’re taking at least as much magnesium or—ideally—twice as much magnesium as calcium.

400-1200 mg daily of Magnesium is helpful but use according to bowel tolerance. Your body knows how much magnesium you can tolerate from bowel tolerance – take as much magnesium as your bowels can tolerate

If you can, add 100 mg of magnesium to your nutritional supplements, and increase it by 100 mg every few days until your stools are soft, but not uncomfortably loose.

Take in divided doses and with meals to ensure optimal absorption – preferably more at night

Some say to not take magnesium with calcium - I think that that is preferable.

Calcium, magnesium, and many other minerals are best absorbed when they are bound to an acidic carrier such as citrate, aspartate, picolinate, or amino acid chelate. Minerals need an acidic base to break down and get used.

The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good.

Avoid magnesium carbonate, oxide, sulfate, and gluconate. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements).

Side effects from too much magnesium include diarrhea, which can be avoided if you switch to magnesium glycinate.

People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor's supervision.

Feverfew – this herb treats migraine pain by interrupting its main cause: inflammatory reactions in your head that aggravate nerve endings and cause the blood vessels to expand. When taken daily, feverfew can prevent migraines as well as reduce their severity, duration, and frequency. Be patient. The results can take up to 6 weeks. If you stop taking it, your migraines might return.

500-600 mg of standardized feverfew daily – use a standardized extract or capsules with 0.2% parthenolide –some commercial products have been found to have little or no parthenolide

Take 2 equal portions on an empty stomach in the morning and evening.

Higher amounts – 1-2 grams – may be needed if you are having an attack

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – 400 mg daily may cut the frequency and duration of migraines. But you’ll need a Rx for that dosage.

Riboflavin has been used to treat migraines for more than 50 years. The amount of riboflavin that’s needed to reduce headaches is much more than you’ll find in any multivitamin, and riboflavin doesn’t work overnight. Be sure you take enough of it and give it at least a 3-month trial. When it’s combined with magnesium and feverfew, it should work more quickly.


During a migraine, the tissue surrounding the brain becomes inflamed. Omega-3s reduce inflammation.

A good fish oil – such as Carlson’s - Take 4000-6000 mg of fish oil daily with meals for best absorption. After 8-12 weeks, if the migraines have stabilized, you can adjust the dose to 1000 mg per day.


Chia Seeds

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Melatonin - taken at night helps some. Low melatonin in our bodies has been linked to migraines.

Melatonin is a natural hormone that promotes sound sleep. It acts as an antioxidant. Early in life, the body produces an abundant supply, but as we age, production steadily declines.

Melatonin is helpful for more difficult insomnia.

It also acts as a powerful antioxidant; while it shuts the body down, it cleans the toxins and free radicals from cells. But we often do things that keep melatonin from being produced, and that can be deadly. When we stay up late at night or work night shifts, we keep our body from producing melatonin. This increases the risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Studies show women night-shift workers have a 500% higher risk of breast cancer and male night shift workers have a 50% increased risk of colorectal and bone cancer. While not realizing it, many people increase this risk with inconsistent sleep/wake schedules - late night studying or partying or shift work schedules.

Melatonin, the antioxidant hormone that helps protect cells from DNA damage, is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, actually breaching the membrane designed to prevent toxins from entering your brain. Because it has been shown especially effective at preventing free radical damage to cell membranes (one of the prime targets of EMFs from cell phones etc.), I recommend taking 3 to 15 mg of melatonin (preferably in a time-release form) daily.

If melatonin is taken in the evenings, tumor growth may be slowed.

If you’re in the habit of having a late-night snack, a banana would be a good one as it can boost melatonin production.

• Start with 1 mg just before bedtime. Take 2 hours or less before bedtime. If this is not effective, gradually increase dosage. Melatonin dosages vary from individual to individual ~ and most do not need the highest dose. Ease into melatonin in increments.

• Use melatonin only occasionally. Do not take melatonin every single night

• Do not take melatonin during the day.

• When you awaken after melatonin-assisted sleep, you should feel refreshed – not tired or groggy. If you do experience grogginess, reduce the dosage.

• Do not give to children.

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Vitamin D3- 2000-5000 IU daily

Calcium and Vitamin D – A calcium deficiency can exacerbate migraine symptoms. Women often suffer from migraines more often than men because women are more prone to calcium deficiencies. Most experience low calcium levels during the premenstrual or ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle.

Calcium carbonate is the worst absorbed form of calcium there is.

More calcium is absorbed from 500 mg of calcium citrate (an acidic form) than from 2,000 mg of calcium carbonate.

Calcium needs to be balanced with magnesium. Take twice as much magnesium as calcium.

Butterbur – Butterbur root is one of the best herbs to prevent migraines. Take 150 mg two to three times per day.

A good brand is Petadolex.

Make sure the label specifies that pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been removed.

Get ones with capsules free of Pas, compounds found in crude butterbur that are toxic to the liver.

Xiao yao wan – Migraines are often due to liver qi stagnation – when the liver doesn’t properly clean toxins from the body. This is a blend of plant roots, rhizomes, and mushrooms, believed to help cleanse the liver.

Chasteberry – Many women suffer from menstrual-induced migraines. If your progesterone level is too low in relation to estrogen, it can cause blood vessels in the brain to dilate, which is a known cause for migraines. Use the herb chasteberry as a tea or in concentrated herbal capsules to boost progesterone levels. This way you can try to affect hormone change without actually giving the hormone. Drink several cups of chasteberry tea per day and take 500 mg supplements every morning.

Co-Q10 – Two-thirds of volunteers who consumed 200 mg daily cut their migraine attacks in half.

B6 helps prevent migraines

You don’t need to necessarily take B6 every single night. One way that I know if I have enough B6 or not – if I remember my dreams quite clearly, I don’t take B6 for the next few nights. If I don’t remember my dreams – I take B6.

Some people may need up to 250 mg or even special "active" B6 (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate) to achieve the greatest effect.

Doses higher than 500 mg may cause nerve injury and are not recommended.

Possible symptoms of an oversupply of B6 are night restlessness, numb feet, and twitching.

Vitamin B6 is called pyridoxine and it is metabolized through the liver. Pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, or P-5-P, is a co-enzyme form of B6. That is, it turns B6 in your body, and does so without going through your liver. So it’s easy to absorb and is well tolerated. Co-enzyme B vitamins are best absorbed. Look for Pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, or P-5-P on the label as an indicator of the form of the B vitamins it contains.

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Eat cherries as often as possible. Consuming 20 a day (about 2000 mg of cherry fruit extract) has been proven to provide more pain relief than aspirin and other painkillers.


REGULAR YOGA is a powerful headache cure.


EXERCISE – Begin with a daily 10-minute walk, take up a gentle yoga class, or try the slow movement of Tai Chi. Water aerobics and swimming help also.


Acupuncture helps with all sorts of pain. :thumbup:


CHIROPRACTIC/MASSAGE – both help immensely with pain

Be aware that you should wait for any inflammation to subside before starting either.



What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Migraines by Dr. Alexander Mauskop

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Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom Salts. Since migraines are triggered by a mineral deficiency, this may help.



Dilute a few drops of peppermint oil with olive oil and rub the mixture onto your temples.


A mix of peppermint and lavender oil. 2-3 drops of each rubbed into the temples, back of the neck and on your feet feels wonderful and really helps.



1 aspirin, 1 Tylenol and 1 ibuprofen taken with some caffeine will work on the majority of my migraines if they haven't progressed too far.....


Excedrin Migraine




2 Excedrin Migraine and a hot bath in a dark bathroom. Then quiet sleep.



0.025% or 0.075% cream 1-4 times daily


COLD COMPRESS on head, face, or throat will lessen the pain


SLEEP - Get enough sleep. Your body needs a full night of quality sleep to fight pain. Sniffing lavender oil before sleep can help you.



If you regularly suffer from migraine pain (especially if you develop auras), be careful of heart attack or stroke.

If you have fewer than one migraine a month, you’re 50% more likely to have a heart attack than non-sufferers.

If migraines strike at least weekly, you have 3 times the risk of stroke, compared with those who don’t.

• Aim to keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible.

Control high cholesterol and obesity, via diet and exercise

• Quit smoking

• Limit alcohol intake

• Control blood pressure

• Try to avoid oral contraceptives – which has been found to add to stroke risk for women with migraines

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Finding and Curing the Causes of Your Migraines

Food Allergy/Bowel and Gut Imbalances


Brain fog


Irritable bowel syndrome

Joint or muscle pain

Postnasal drip and sinus congestion

and more


The testing: Check an IgG food allergy panel and also check a celiac panel because wheat and gluten are among the biggest causes of headaches and migraines. Stool testing and urine testing for yeast or bacterial imbalances that come from the gut can also be helpful.

The treatment: An elimination diet -- getting rid of gluten, dairy, eggs, and yeast -- is a good way to start. Corn can also be a common problem. Getting the gut healthy with enzymes, probiotics, and omega-3 fats is also important.


Chemical Triggers

The causes: A processed-food diet including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates (in deli meats), sulfites (found in wine, dried fruit, and food from salad bars) is to blame. Tyramine-containing foods like chocolate and cheese are also triggers.

The treatment: Get rid of additives, sweeteners, sulfites, and processed food. Eat a diet rich in whole foods and phytonutrients.


Hormonal Imbalances

The causes: Premenstrual syndrome with bloating, fluid retention, cravings, irritability, breast tenderness, menstrual cramps; use of an oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy; or even just being pre-menopausal, which leads to too much estrogen and not enough progesterone because of changes in ovulation.

The testing: Blood or saliva hormone testing looks for menopausal changes or too much estrogen.

The treatment: Eat a whole-foods, low-glycemic-load, high-phytonutrient diet with cruciferous vegetables. Use herbs such as Vitex, along with magnesium and B6. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Exercise and stress reduction also help.

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Magnesium Deficiency

Anything that feels tight or crampy like headaches





Sensitivity to loud noises

Muscle cramps or twitching



The testing: Check red blood cell magnesium levels. Even this can be normal in the face of total body deficiency, so treatment with magnesium based on the symptoms is the first choice.

The treatment: Magnesium glycinate, citrate, or aspartate in doses that relieve symptoms or until you get loose bowels. If you have kidney disease of any kind, do this only with a doctor's supervision.


Mitochondrial Imbalances


Muscle aching

Brain fog

Although sometimes the only symptom can be migraines


The testing: Checking urinary organic acids can be helpful to assess the function of the mitochondria and energy production.

The treatment: Taking 400 mg of riboflavin (B2) twice a day and 100 to 400 mg a day of coenzyme Q10 can be helpful, as can as other treatments to support the mitochondria.


Keep in mind that sometimes a combination of treatments is necessary. Other treatments can be helpful in selected cases, such as herbal therapies (like feverfew and butterbur), acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, and osteopathic treatment to fix structural problems.

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KEEP A MIGRAINE DIARY for several months to help identify triggers. Track your diet, exercise, stress levels, and symptoms.

Some common culprits include chocolate, food additives, hormonal fluctuations, weather, and stress.

93% of people with migraines improve when they stop eating their trigger foods. Any food can cause a migraine, but some foods are more closely associated with them. Foods high in chemicals called amines – found in chocolate, aged cheeses, red wine, beer, dairy, nuts, citrus, and beans – commonly trigger migraines. It’s worth trying an elimination diet.

A migraine-provoking food could be something you eat in a large quantity, such as a glass of milk or some yogurt, or in small amounts like the dairy in ranch-style salad dressing. Food reactions are difficult to identify because an allergic reaction like a migraine doesn’t always occur right after you eat. It can take as long as 72 hours.

If you suspect a food, eliminate that food in all forms for at least 3 months. Then test it by eating it alone. If you have no reaction, you can try eating it again in small amounts. Don’t eat it more than once or twice a week, however. You don’t want that sensitivity to come back. In addition to the foods listed above, the foods found to be most likely to cause headaches are beef, yeast, and sugar (corn and cane).



Keep your blood sugar stable by eating every 4-5 hours and get some protein at each meal.

Chromium Picolinate (see above)



Copper can trigger a migraine, especially if you have an abnormal copper metabolism or consume high quantities of this mineral.

Some alcoholic beverages, such as red wine, beer, and whiskey are distilled in cooper stills.

Some water supplies travel through copper pipes.

Foods naturally high in copper include: shellfish, wheat germ, chocolate, soy, and nuts.

Citrus increases your body’s absorption of this mineral.

Talk with your health care practitioner about getting a hair analysis or other assay of your copper levels.

Avoid eating too many of the above foods and beverages and make sure your multivitamin is free of copper.

When copper levels are too high, zinc levels tend to be too low. The result of this imbalance can be anything from fatigue to migraines. When you increase your zinc, copper levels come down.

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I've had those migraines that last 3-4 months out of the year. After an investigation by the neurologist, it turns out my migraines were caused by my allergies! I now work very hard to keep my allergies under control & will talk to my allergist about additional help during cottonwood season next spring (my worst time).


I agree with Negin that Magnesium has helped a lot. My neuro actually recommended it! You have to take it for a while before you really notice a difference. I also take a twice a day multi vitamin that has most everything else Negin recommended. I cannot take Feverfew as I'm allergic to ragweed, but I do take the melatonin also.


I agree with others, that a trip to the neurologist may be in order. Good luck & :grouphug:. Having headaches every day is awful!

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Thank you for the great medical information.


I have an appointment tuesday to go and see my primary care to get my referral. I am hoping he doesn't do something like "well take an OTC pain killer". Like "really I've never thought of that" lol.


I will read the various posts/info on the medical stuff. I take a daily multi-vitamin already thankfully and love the one I have. I need to check the ingredient but I'm pretty sure it's got a good dose of Magnesium in it.

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