Using My Eyes is Triggering Migraines

Reading, working on the computer and watching TV have become major migraine triggers for me. I’ve suspected a connection for a while, but had a revelation after not blogging for three months: One reason I feel better on vacation is that I rarely read or use the computer when I’m away from home.

I tried to read a book on Sunday. My head hurt within 10 minutes. I had a full blown within 30 minutes. The migraine finally broke while I slept last night. Then I had to get on the computer this morning and it came right back. I am so frustrated and upset.

Finding a clear trigger implies a problem that can be fixed. I know my eyes have deteriorated since my last exam, so adjusting my prescription might be the solution. I have an eye exam tomorrow and hope we can make some progress. Without reading or using the computer, I have no idea what to do with my life.

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Headache Only One of Migraine’s Many Symptoms

More than half of people with migraine experience nausea, neck pain, or sensitivity to lights, sounds or smells during a migraine, yet few doctors regularly ask about symptoms other than headache. These findings, from a National Headache Foundation survey, include only a partial list of possible migraine symptoms.

Migraine Goes Beyond Head Pain
(National Headache Foundation press release)

Chicago, IL – August 13, 2008 – Migraine sufferers often experience a series of associated symptoms in addition to migraine head pain, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation (NHF). Survey results reveal that more than 50% of respondents said they frequently or always experience symptoms such as nausea, neck pain, or sensitivity to lights, sounds or smells when suffering from a migraine. Additionally, 78% of respondents said their healthcare professional does not regularly inquire about associated symptoms experienced beyond actual migraine head pain.

“It is extremely important for headache sufferers to talk with their healthcare professionals about symptoms occurring in conjunction with pain,” said Dr. Roger Cady, Vice President and Board member of NHF. “Diagnosis of migraine is based in part on associated symptoms or characteristics such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to lights but communication about the entire migraine experience aids your medical provider with proper diagnosis, understanding you, and your specific treatment needs.”

Of those respondents experiencing nausea or vomiting along with their migraine head pain, many reported having to delay taking migraine medication or taking additional medication to manage their nausea. Others said they alternate an injectable form of migraine medication instead of swallowing a pill.

In order to manage migraine head pain and associated symptoms, the majority of survey respondents said they try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, eat balanced meals and reduce stress.

Additional NHF survey results:

  • 78% of survey respondents reported missing work due to migraine pain and/or its associated symptoms.
  • 84% said they frequently or always experience throbbing pain on one-side of their head with their migraine.
  • When asked to rate their migraine pain on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being unbearable, 56% of respondents said their migraine pain is typically between a 7 and 8.

NHF’s tips for dealing with migraine head pain and associated symptoms:

  • Get help. Discuss the associated symptoms of your migraine with your healthcare provider. S/he can help you determine your treatment options.
  • If you experience nausea or vomiting as associated symptoms of your migraine, talk with your healthcare provider about other forms of your medication such as injections, nasal sprays or tablets that do not require drinking water to take them.
  • Avoid identifiable migraine triggers and practice a healthy lifestyle.
  • Track your migraines. Write down when your migraines occur. Bring your results to your healthcare professional to review. A free downloadable headache diary is available at www.headaches.org.

Welcome, Neurology Now Readers

Neurology Now, the American Academy of Neurology‘s patient-focused magazine, featured The Daily Headache in its August issue. Look for it at your next doctor’s appointment or, even better, subscribe to the free magazine. Each issue is informative and spotlights patients’ experiences.

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Home and Taking Care of Myself

After three weeks in Phoenix and a weekend in Minneapolis for a wedding, I’m thrilled to be home. My dad’s service, last Wednesday, was a full-house. The touching speakers captured his generous, giving spirit. It provided good closure. Now all I have to do is figure out what my real life will be like without him.

I’ve given myself permission to do whatever I want this week. I’ve been physically and mentally exhausted, so I plan to sleep a lot. I’ll watch a ton of baseball and Gilmore Girls. If I feel like cooking or blogging, great. But I’m OK with it if I don’t. I just took butter out to soften for snickerdoodles. They’ll make a tasty dinner.

Thank you all for your incredible support. I’ll be back to the blog soon.

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