I get migraine headaches.

They crack me up--

My mom and bro get them too-- but we all have different triggers, different warning signs, different migraine course/severity, different solutions, it doesnt make any sense.

I think mine are pretty funny.  I start out by feeling warm.  Not 'hot', but like, you know how when you need to turn the air conditioner down like 2 degrees to feel more comfortable?  Its just slightly too warm, but enough that you notice?

And then my brain starts to try to figure out what is going on.

Brain: Somethings up.  Are you hungry?

Me: I dont think so... but I agree, something is up. Ill eat something.

Brain: No... no that didnt help.  Do you need to poop?

Me: No.

Brain: I think if you brushed your teeth, you would feel better.  I think thats the problem.

Me: That doesnt make any sense.

Brain: Well, you wouldnt poop. Its the best I can come up with.

Me: ...

Brain: So... do you need to poop?

I am not joking at all.  That goes on for a bit, until the pain starts.  Its like someone jabbed an ice-pick into one of my eyes, and then pulled it up over my skull to the base of my neck.  Its only on one side or the other, but it can be either side.

My only 'solution' at that point is to take my migraine meds (capsules, not tablets!) and get somewhere dark, cold, and quiet.  Sometimes even the texture of my blankets make me want to puke.  But I have to go to sleep.  If I go to sleep, when I wake up, the migraine is gone (usually).  That makes absolutely no sense.  Why would a nap make this thing go away? What diseases are cured by 'a nap'?  Stupid.

Anyway, I control my migraines with two medications.  One medication costs <$30 a year.  The other costs $300 a year.

Why the hell is one medication an order of magnitude more expensive than the other?  Am I taking some super special brand-new brand-name med?

Well, the cheap medication is ancient generic barbiturate, and the expensive medication is ancient generic birth control.

Several of my migraine triggers are relatively easy to manage-- heat, and not eating/sleeping enough.  The other I have no control over-- hormones.

Before I regulated them with birth control, I would be minding my own business, going to the gym, working, studying, whatever, when BAM!  Out of the blue, a debilitating migraine.

With birth control, I know exactly when they are coming.  Farmers could plant crops based on the regularity of my migraines now.  Which means I can take measures to limit their severity, even though I dont get an official migraine aura.

I was on birth control a LONG TIME before I ever needed it for Birth Control, so my parents (and now I) had to pay $25-$50 a month for those migraine meds.  And I am on some ancient stuff-- not any fancy thing youve seen a commercial for.  There is no valid reason for why these pills are so damn expensive-- it was a tax for being a female who gets hormonal migraines.

And now, thanks to Obama, I get them for free.

I would have been happy to just pay for them at a normal, reasonable, generic rate.  But considering how insurance companies have screwed me for about 15 years over this, I think free is fair too.

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I started getting migraine headaches decades ago. I lose a tiny bit of my visual field which progresses into a classic "scintillating scotoma" pre-cursor phenomena about a half-hour before the pain starts - it's kinda pretty, but when you know what's coming it's no fun. The problem was for the first year or so I got the scintillating scotoma without the headache - I thought somebody had slipped me some LSD or something. Now I'm 70 and the headaches don't always follow the blind-spot and scintillating scotoma, but I still take some acetominophen when I get the signal - good Pavlovian conditioning.

By Paul Burnett (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

Maybe your brain needs to poop...

By starskeptic (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

This is a good reason to call them hormonal regulators instead of birth control, yes?

By Justin McKean (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

that's the part that pisses me off about the OMG BIRTH CONTROL PILLS ARE FOR TEH SLUTS shit. There are SO many things that those pills help women with that aren't prevention of conception.

Yet, Viagra is covered left right and center, but BC pills? Until now, not even if they kept your eyes from spontaneously exploding.

By John C. Welch (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

Generic birth control pills are $9/month at Wal-Mart and Target. I'd think that would be reasonable by anyone's standards.

By Shane Killian (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

only if they're the kind you need. There's rather a lot of variety in BC pills around hormone levels and delivery.

By John C. Welch (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

John C. Welch:

"There are SO many things that those pills help women with that aren’t prevention of conception"

This is exactly the wrong way to go. I see two problems with a statement like that:

1. It says that "prevention of conception" is different from other "legitimate" needs for medication.

2. It has a simple solution: allow these pills for use only when a documented need other than contraception exists.

Birth control pills should be easily and cheaply available for the purpose of birth control. End of story.

Shane Killian: Aspirin is cheaper than fentanyl, and they are both pain killers, right?

to my fellow migraine sufferers:
Have you tried imitrex, to help stop a migraine once you get one? The autoinjectors have been a lifesaver for me, and they are finally available in a generic.

By Robert Szasz (not verified) on 15 Oct 2012 #permalink

My mom's migraines stopped dead when she got her inderal (beta blocker) dose right. Helps mine, too.

I get the exact same type of headaches. They exhaust me and even a dim light can be painful.
I have discovered that I have 'muscle knots' in my neck or back that cause the migraines. If I can find the knot and put pressure on it the pain will ease and sometimes even go completely away. As soon as I let off the pressure the migraine comes back. If I can message the knot away then the migraine goes with it. You just gotta find the source. The other thing that works is a plastic bag filled with ice/water I keep it on my head for as long as I can stand it and eventually it would usually get rid of the migraine but I still had to sleep after because of the toll it would take on me.
I think they are called tension headaches too. That would be why sleeping cures it, you relax your muscles. I don't know if it is the same thing going on with you but if I can help anyone from getting the pain that comes on me when these things hit I am more than happy to help.

God bless the NHS. Contraception (for whatever reason your prescribe it - to prevent acne, pregnancy or migraines) is free. It's about the only thing left that still is free.

Living in Oklahoma, you are lucky you don't have to get a certificate from a church "counselor" before you can get teh slutz pills. I would be proud to have the affordable care act named after me. I bet your representative and both Senators voted against ObamaCare.

By Bert Chadick (not verified) on 16 Oct 2012 #permalink

I've suffered from migraines from the time I was eight. 52 years later I still get them. Imitrex injections are the only things that work. Within 15-20 minutes after the shot, the pain washes away. The downside is rebound headaches. Imitrex pills take longer and the pain gets worse before it gets better. Still, thank God for the shots and thank God for the ACA.

Maybe you should thank the doctors and researchers for the medication?
Afterall, if there is a god, why did it give you the migrane in the first place?

Anyway, happy migrane free times to all the sufferes!


Have you had your blood pressure checked during these migraines? It may explain the warmth and the need to sleep to kill the migraine.

By Daniel Waddell (not verified) on 19 Oct 2012 #permalink

I have been getting migraines intermittently since the age of 14. The remedy that seems to works best is Dixarit (active ingredient clonidine). I keep two or three tablets with me at all times and whenever I feel an attack coming on, a single tablet and going to bed in a dark room have the desitred effect.

1. Be a scientist, see if there is connection between diet and your migraine:

blog.sethroberts net/2011/08/29/alexandra-carmichael-almost-eliminates-headaches/

Seth Roberts is an excellent source for ideas for self-experimentation with regards to diet and health problems connection. The "usual" suspects are IMHO (pasteurized cow) dairy, cereal grains, vegetable oil (see Bill Lands about Omega-6 excess), "artificial" food (e.g. diet coke), (unfermented) soy. I can only highly recommend looking up "Paleo diet" for ideas for an diet/health connection.

The diet-migraine-connection hypothesis is something that you can test without a lab, and without a phase I, II, III, IV … trial.


2. You already found out that there is a connection between your endocrine system and your migraine.

You should now that some hormones are released either at the beginning of a proper night's sleep (e.g. growth hormone) or after a proper night's sleep (e.g. cortisol).

Cortisol might play into this (look up steroidogenesis, wikipedia has a neat diagram on that), maybe cortisol (or one of the steroids made from it) is low ("missing" when you have an migraine), and replenishing this "missing" hormone with the pill, or with the next proper sleep, might be the cause for the "cure" you experience.

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 25 Oct 2012 #permalink

Sorry, should read:

"… cortisol (or one of its precursors) is low … "

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 26 Oct 2012 #permalink

One more idea:

Do you usually consume dairy (milk, cream, cheese, milk-chocolate, ice-cream, etc.) in "significant" amounts, but are there days when you don't eat much (if any) dairy? And when you skip dairy for a day (without taking the pill), are these the days followed with migraine the next day?

Maybe then this is part of your problem:
www.news.harvard edu/gazette/2006/12.07/11-dairy.html

Just speculation, but if this is the case, then you are suppling exogenous hormones via dairy. Then, if stop supplying these hormones, your endocrine system needs a day to "catch up", and to produce its own hormones again the next night. (Something akin to a adrenal crisis when people who take cortisol stop supplying it abruptly.)

I guess there are many more food stuff that have the potential to interfere with the endocrine system, and there are so many things that play into it (your genotype and what environmental things like VIRUSSSES and stuff you were exposed to – you know these things better than me).

But the dairy/migraine thing is something you can test, and that's were I would put my money on at the moment. If it turns out to be a dud, then I'm sure you can come up with other things to test.

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 27 Oct 2012 #permalink

Have you considered "legitimate rape" as a replacement for your birth control? Paul Ryan endorses it heavily..

Have you considered going full-30 day on your BC? That is, not getting the kind with the 7 days of iron pills, but taking the actual hormone pills without break? I know women who do this with no reported ill effect, but I don't know what the literature says.