My migraine history and a question for those who suffer seasonally

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My migraine history and a question for those who suffer seasonally

Post  Catnmouse on Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:07 pm

Hi I'm new here and hoping that I can find some support and maybe even some answers. I'm a 50 year old woman and have had migraines more-or-less my whole life, starting at puberty and gradually worsening over the years until now I have migraine pain much of the time. I'm sensitive to some foods but I find only when I'm in what I call "migraine mode" (sometimes certain foods trigger a headache, sometimes they don't). I'm sure there's a hormone factor, a stress factor and a weather factor that contribute to my headaches.

I've always found my headaches were associated with my monthly hormonal cycle. Now that I'm menopausal, I can have them at any time and unfortunatley it tends to be most of the time. I'm currently on Hormone Replacement Therapy to help smooth out the hormone fluctuations, and while I think it helps me feel better overall, I remain pretty headachey.

When I had a stressful 9-5 job, I had what my doctor called "weekend migraine syndrome" which meant when the weekend rolled around and the stress from my job relaxed for a couple of days, I'd have a migraine. Now I'm self employed and during the most stressful periods my headaches aren't too bad but the moment there's any reduction in stress the headaches come on with a vengeance. Yoga helps, excercise helps, all the things that we know about stress reduction help, but they don't resolve the problem.

I live in southwestern Canada and I find that my migraines are MUCH worse in the fall/winter and ease off in the spring/summer. This has been true for a number of years. There seems to be a strong connection with daylight hours, warmth, and sunshine. It gets very dark here during the winter - it's chilly, grey, and it rains a lot. With that weather pattern, on come the migraines with increased frequency and intensity. I often have a headache every day for 3-4 days at a time, then a break for a day or two, then another 3-4 days of headache. It's miserable. In the summer, that pattern is reversed so that I suffer less often and additionally the headaches are less severe.

Thankfully my headaches are pretty responsive to triptan drugs and I can remain fairly functional most days, although I worry I take too many pills. I took Imitrex for years and am now finding Relpax works really well and has less tendency to make me feel wierd. I have tried antidipressants and blood pressure meds with no success. Last winter I saw a neurologist who suggested two treatment options. One was epilepsy meds but given I already have menopausal "brain fog" sometimes we decided it woudn't be the right treatment for me. He then suggested Botox but I declined. I couldn't cope with the idea of injections in my scalp and my overall hope is that I can still figure out the root of the problem rather than simply try one more way to mask it. Given it's been a life-long affliction, I'm not sure that I'll ever figure it out but it's the route I've chosen to take. I've tried Vitamin D, Feverfew, St. John's Wort and other natural remedies. Nothing makes much difference. My mom had terrible migraines which eased off as she got into her senior years. My older sister says her migraines are not as bad as they used to be, so I have hope that if all else fails, at some point I'll get to an age where things naturally improve. However, I have a busy, productive life and am tired of having to manage this rotten problem, and I'd really rather not wait another 15 years or so to see if it improves on its own.

Anyway, my big question for forum members is this: Weather seems to be one of the biggest factors for me. I've observed in the past that whenever I've been able to escape winter for a sunny holiday, my headaches more or less evaporate. During the past month of November I had headaches at least every other day. I'm now a sunny, warm southerly place and since arriving here a few days ago (and getting off the plane with a headache) I have been pain free. What I've read on line has lead me to believe that most people have the opposite problem: sunshine and heat make their migraines worse. For me, sunshine and heat mean relief. Has anyone else had this experience? In all honesty, I'm wondering if either a snowbird lifestyle or a permanent relocation southward are my best hope for a pain-free life.

And having read the summary of my headache problem, if anyone has any other ideas/suggestions, I'd love to hear them! After nearly 40 years of coping, I'm open to any and all suggestions. Thank you!

Catnmouse

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Join date : 2012-12-04

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Re: My migraine history and a question for those who suffer seasonally

Post  mxgo on Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:24 pm

Has your doctor ordered your Vitamin D levels checked?

Martin
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mxgo

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Re: My migraine history and a question for those who suffer seasonally

Post  Migrainegirl on Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:24 pm

Cat

Hi and welcome. It is well known that many people living in cold cloudy climates suffer from low seratonin during the winter months. As seratonin drops are linked to migraine, that may well be the problem. Have you tried using a sun lamp? (See research on seasonal affective disorder which finds this can really help.). Vitamin D supplements (5000 mg) may also help.

If that doesn't work, come on down to Arizona. We have lots of Canadians here for the winter months.

MG
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My migraine history and a question for those who suffer seasonally

Post  Cookie Monster on Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:38 pm

Hi there,

Welcome to the forum. Smile One suggestion I have for you re: the weather issue is to check out the website Mediclim. Apparently, it was put together by doctors with goal of helping people figure out if some of their medical symptoms are weather related. You can sign up to receive warnings whenever the barometric pressure in your region changes to such an extent that it can trigger a migraine. This makes it really easy to see if weather changes are truly a trigger. For me, I seem to do better overall in the summer than in winter but I didn't notice a specific correlation with storms or barometric pressure changes. Hope you don't have to move. I'm a Canadian too with a Mexican husband and sometimes the idea of moving somewhere warmer is pretty tempting but despite the cold, I love this beautiful country.

Cookie Monster

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Re: My migraine history and a question for those who suffer seasonally

Post  Seaine on Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:34 pm

I have not found my migraines to have any relation to heat/sun or cold/dark. I know that doesn't help you but I would suggest seriously considering moving south. Think on how many migraines you could avoid having. If it was that simple for me, not that migraines are ever simple, I would move as soon as possible.
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Seaine

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