Migraine and Memory Loss

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Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Brenda L. on Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:58 pm

I wanted to ask how many other here experience some form of memory loss when suffering during a migraine? I've posted about this topic before, so I know it is a common symptom among migraineurs.

I don't know if we are so focused on the pain that our minds just don't process incoming information or what. Maybe we're in so much pain that we "tune out". I've also experience migraine-related aphasia, where it is hard to think of a common word. Sometimes I'll even think if the word in my second or third language instead of English, which is my native language. It's a weird phenomenon. I remember once I was unable to think of the word for something as common as "bird". I was thinking..."you know, the things that go tweet-tweet"...so strange, but not uncommon among migraineurs.

Do others here experience these same symptoms during migraine attacks?

The memory troubles can be quite frustrating, especially when having to deal with people and trying to recall conversations. All through school and college, I always had an excellent, almost photographic memory, so these memory problems really do frustrate me. When not in a migraine, I can read through something only once and retain the necessary info to get an "A" on a test. When in migraine, it can be hard for me to even read a book. Even a magazine article can be tough. Sometimes I have to keep starting over from the very first paragraph because I can forget the new info easily.

I should note that I am now in constant severe migraine, so I have no choice but to try to read with a migraine, if I'm going to read at all. I'm sure some here are wondering how on Earth anyone can read if they're experiencing a severe migraine attack. I would have said the same thing. It's only with the help of pain management/opiates that I'm able to function at all. The opiates don't dull my mind at all; it's actually quite the reverse. The more that my pain is under control with the opiates, the better I am able to function and the better I am able to retain information.

Back before pain management, I suffered with excruciating migraines for YEARS. I thought I would die from the pain! Back then, I couldn't read with a migraine at all, practically. I remember having to take a few final exams in college while in the midst of severe migraine.

Before opiates, I could barely process even simple info. Back in those days of excruciating migraine that lasted for months, I used to have conversations with people, only to forget everything I'd said when I next talked to that person. Then something they'd say would jog my memory and I'd recall the conversation.

I also would watch an entire movie on HBO or on tape, only to forget that I'd ever seen that movie. It wasn't until I watched the movie for a second time that I might remember something about halfway through the film, and I'd know that I had indeed viewed the film while in the midst of a prolonged migraine attack. I'm sure I was burying my head in my hands, closing my eyes, and not concentrating on the dialog, so it's no wonder I didn't remember watching the film. Before opiates, I was trapped in my own world of severe pain.

Also, back in the bad old days before pain management, I remember posting things on the forum and not quite remembering what I'd written until I saw it for myself. (I was reassured when others here related that sometimes they couldn't remember their own posts). Does anyone else have this problem?

My prolonged migraines USED to END, and then my memory would be excellent once again. Unfortunately, my current attack has lasted for 3 years. Even WITH opiates, it can be very difficult to function when in such severe and constant pain. Just going to the grocery store is a daunting task!

I may be forced to try to find some sort of employment, but I fear that these memory issues could cause embarrassing problems for me. I suppose I couldn't do anything that's all that important, because I fear that I'll mess it up with my memory issues and chronic pain. Then again, I did get "A's" on those final exams that I took in college while in the midst of severe migraine attacks. The only final exam that I messed up on due to migraine was mathematics, which is not my strong suit. I had to take a Psychological Statistics Final Exam while in the midst of a horrid migraine and without much pain medication to dull the pain. Gosh, that was a nightmare. But I still managed to graduate Summa cum Laude.

Anyway, I really just wanted to ask others about any memory loss or aphasia issues due to migraine? Maybe it happened at work, or with family, or in your social life?

Thanks,
Brenda

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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Migrainegirl on Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:24 pm

Yes, I have a hard time coming up with words or forming coherent sentences.
Generally, any kind of memory retrieval is slower or blocked. It's very frustrating.
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Seaine on Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:18 am

Sometimes I will have a hard time speaking during a bad migraine. I'll stutter a little or just be unable to find the right words to construct my sentences, so they come out strangely. Also, I like to play video games and I have noticed that during a bad migraine, I SUCK at them! And when I feel great with no headache, somehow the video game seems 10x easier! How strange, it's like migraines make our brains not work very well in general.
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  ana24 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:03 pm

Brenda-

I have very bad memory loss with my migraines. Especially when I take a triptan medicine. I have terrible even finishing sentences and lose my train of thought very easily.

I am currently a struggling college student and making an A on an exam seems so far away even if I am a bright kid. Got any tips?

Alexys (ana)

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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Kem10 on Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:18 am

A good friend calls migraines the brain suckers. They make me both clumsy and forgetful.
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  mattie on Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:55 am

Years of migraines have caused me permanent memory problems. Sometimes when the aura of M is beginning I have trouble communicating & thinking but what I have found strange is that once the aura is gone & pain starts, my brain works much better than normal. It seems to clear my brain, maybe it is more blood flow to the brain that helps. When M over I'm back to sluggish thinking & can't think of right words.

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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  ana24 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:36 am

Had anyone tried anything to help their memory issues?

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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Mini on Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:19 pm

YES, Brenda, definitely.
There is a strong connection between M and memory lapses. At times it gets so bad, that I feel I will never, ever be able to remember anything, no matter how important, but then the M ends and slowly my brain recovers.
But frankly, I am not sure if every time after each bout of M, some things do not get lost from my "memory bank" forever.


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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  ConcordGrape on Thu Jun 12, 2014 6:08 pm

I want to reopen this topic in light of recent memory issues I've been having. The forum doesn't have much on memory other than we all seem to suffer from memory loss during an M.

What about when you don't have a migraine?

Has anyone tried neuropsych testing for memory? If I can get approval from the insurance, I should get it done next month.

My memory issues began while on Topamax in 2009. I thought it would go away after I stopped the medicine. It didn't. Recently my migraines have turned to daily, and my memory has become total trash. It is really affecting me socially, and I fear it could be dangerous if I forget when I take medicine.

Has anyone tried improving their memory on their own?

Thanks, CG
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Seaine on Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:33 am

My memory and cognition is only affected during my migraines, and really only noticeable during bad ones. I get daily migraines but for most of the day I am ok, and for milder migraines that go away right after meds, if I am affected I don't notice.
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Migrainegirl on Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:28 pm

This appears to be a common problem.  And while it is much worse during the M (no help there), I find overall my memory is not what it used to be.  Not sure if this is partly due to age (53 now) or due to prolonged migraine damage. I suspect some of both. 

The only thing that seems to help is regular exercise.  All the studies on memory and aging are showing this.  You just need to walk every day, for at least 30 minutes to get real benefits.  Since I've been doing this my memory and focus are much improved. It is still tough during a bad migraine, but it really helps the rest of the time.  While I can't exercise much when I'm feeling bad, I make the effort to walk a lot on other says.  

Even young people can benefit cognitively from physical activity the research shows. It improves creativity and problem solving. 

The main key is don't overdo it and bring on a migraine. Just walking or riding an exercise bike is enough. But do it regularly.
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Migrainegirl on Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:28 pm

This appears to be a common problem.  And while it is much worse during the M (no help there), I find overall my memory is not what it used to be.  Not sure if this is partly due to age (53 now) or due to prolonged migraine damage. I suspect some of both. 

The only thing that seems to help is regular exercise.  All the studies on memory and aging are showing this.  You just need to walk every day, for at least 30 minutes to get real benefits.  Since I've been doing this my memory and focus are much improved. It is still tough during a bad migraine, but it really helps the rest of the time.  While I can't exercise much when I'm feeling bad, I make the effort to walk a lot on other days.  

Even young people can benefit cognitively from physical activity the research shows. It improves creativity and problem solving. 

The main key is don't overdo it and bring on a migraine. Just walking or riding an exercise bike is enough. But do it regularly.
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Brenda L. on Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:05 pm

Thanks for the replies, and I'm so sorry to hear how other with migraines suffer from memory loss.

I used to go in and out of migraine. I'd have marathon status migraines (up to 4 months long) and then suddenly one day the migraine would just end and I'd be back to being pain-free for 6 months or more. Those were the days! I never imagined that my migraine disease could get any worse, but unfortunately it did.

My migraines went from sporadic to constant. My memory would always be excellent when I was NOT in migraine, even after a 4-month status migraine. But now that I'm in constant migraine (I've been in constant migraine since Dec. 2010---I cannot believe it's been that long). I've completely forgotten what it was lick to be 'pain free' and to be able to think clearly and to remember things well. Now, just getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle.

I am seeing a pain management doctor. Without my PM and my meds, I wouldn't be able to function at all. I still have constant severe pain and nausea, which I try to manage my best with meds.

I haven't been able to work since 2010, but now financial realities are forcing me to look for a job. I'm doubtful that I'd be able to handle the demands of a full-time (or even a part-time) job, but my SSDI 'work credits' expired, so now I cannot even TRY to get SSDI. It's a horrible situation. It's tough for HEALTHY people to get jobs in this economy; I don't know how I would handle working when I'm in so much constant pain.


So sorry others suffer so much! Now that I have constant migraine, I also have constant pain AND constant memory problems.

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re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Cindy*W on Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:21 pm

My memory has been affected terribly by migraine.

I often have trouble recalling common words and can forget what I was told yesterday.

During a migraine, It's much worse.

When I applied for SSDI alnost 7 years ago, they had me see a Doctor who tested my memory.

My ability to recsll what I had just read or seen wasn't very good at all and I assume that's what made them approve me so quickly.

The MD I saw for 12 years told me that memory issues are just a part of the disease.

Needless to say, I am in the same boat with the rest of you.

Cindy
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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  Missaldrich on Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:40 pm

This is comforting to know. My mother had Alzheimer's and I was worried I had that at 53. I struggle with memory loss and as an English teacher who sometimes can't remember the word for spoon ( the stirry thing) this affects my career. I just had Botox yesterday and take Maxalt and Sumatriptan and Topomax.

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Re: Migraine and Memory Loss

Post  lorente on Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:14 pm

I can't function at all when I have a migraine, so I can't really answer the question about memory loss per se. During a migraine, I normally can't sit up, open my eyes, form sentences, or speak, so that isn't really memory loss, is it? More like total brain shutdown. (Read? Play a video game? Watch tv? I've never been able to do those things during a migraine. We all are affected so differently.)

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