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: :   Survival Tips When to Call a Professional Migraines and Menopause—The Double Whammy

Migraines and Menopause—The Double Whammy

As disruptive and uncomfortable as hot flashes are, they’re not the worst symptom of menopause. Women who have experienced menopausal migraines know just how debilitating this serious menopausal symptom can be.The pain of a migraine stops you in your tracks, and it takes herculean effort to accomplish anything when you have one. Along with bad colds, flu, and back pain, migraines are the cause of many lost workdays.

HFN 105 Migraines F29962214The Cause
A migraine headache is an extremely painful headache. Often times, additional symptoms such as a tingling feeling, nausea, a heightened sensitivity to light and sound, and flashes of light or blind spots accompany or precede migraine headaches. People with migraines want to do one thing: go to bed in a dark room and try to sleep through it. One of the causes of migraine headaches is the fluctuation of the estrogen in the body. This is why women experiencing premenstrual syndrome, perimenopause, and menopause are especially prone to getting them, even if they have no other history of these headaches.

Dealing with Migraines
Obviously, the best way to deal with migraine headaches is to avoid them in the first place. Although you don’t have total control over this, there are a few things you can to lower the frequency of this horrid symptom of menopause. Red wine and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are known triggers of migraine headaches. MSG is a flavor enhancer often added to processed meats, soups, Chinese restaurant food, and canned foods. If you find yourself suffering from frequent migraines while consuming these foods, it’s best to avoid them. Fortunately, FDA requires that MSG be listed on the label of food containers, making it possible to avoid.

Other ways to avoid migraines are through the use of beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and some antiepileptic drugs. None of these avenues should be even remotely considered without first consulting a doctor.

When you do experience a migraine, medications containing triptan are one of the best ways to help get rid of it. Triptans work by constricting blood vessels in the brain, thus relieving swelling. Triptan comes in a variety of forms such as oral pills, injections and nasal sprays, and are available by prescription only.

What Not to Do: A Case Study
One migraine sufferer, Vicki, started having migraines at the age of 14 during menstruation or times of family stress. She’d seek a dark room and trained herself to sleep on demand. When menopause caused a drop in her estrogen in her late 40’s and early 50’s, she would sometimes have migraines for three or four days at a time. That’s when Vicki, who did not want to take addicting opiods for her pain, started taking 2400 mg a day of ibuprofen, twice the recommended dosage. Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause serious health consequences when taken in higher doses than recommended.

Vicki visited a pain clinic and discovered that she had one near-sighted eye and one far-sighted one. A doctor told her she’d have headaches for life. Wearing contacts, however, has helped lessen the strength of the headaches.

Once she’d gone one month without a migraine, she knew her estrogen was depleting. But then she suffered from “rebound” headaches, which are usually the result of abusing painkillers for headaches, and tried a serious drug, florinal, which is mostly prescribed for headaches, but it didn’t offer relief.

Now past 60, Vicki still gets headaches, but not migraines and not ones that last for days. She knows her triggers: overheating in the summer, cheese, alcohol, caffeine, and steers away from them.

Although Vicki’s migraines are finally gone, she admits that she abused painkilling drugs out of desperation and doesn’t recommend anyone do as she did.

When to Visit a Doctor
There is no wrong time to visit a doctor when it comes to dealing with migraine headaches. Even in their most innocent form, they can cause severe pain for extremely long periods of time. In their most dangerous form, they could be a symptom of much more serious condition. Frequent visits to the doctor will result in a charted medical history that can prove to be of assistance down the road when dealing with additional menopausal symptoms. Remember, everyone is different, and only your healthcare provider can properly prescribe a safe and reliable way of dealing with your specific symptoms. ♀

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