Epilepsy Talk

Say Good-Bye To The Miserable World Of Migraines… | December 4, 2020

Your head is throbbing, pulsing, pounding, light is blinding, you want to puke, you can’t think straight. Sound familiar?

Welcome to the miserable world of migraines.

Let’s face it, having migraines is a wretched experience.

Add severe pain, distorted visual images, sensitivity to light, sound, or odors, and maybe even the feeling of numbness in parts of your body. The list is endless.

You may be “lucky” and have migraines once a year. Or like many others, you may suffer one every day for several weeks at a time.

In fact, migraines and epilepsy are sort of kissing cousins. Like seizures, migraines can be triggered by stress, fatigue, flashing lights, loss of sleep, menstruation, and alcohol.

Red wine, caffeine withdrawal, stress, and skipped meals are also among the common culprits. But like epilepsy, avoiding these triggers are easier said than done.

Epileptic attacks always cause sudden or immediate symptoms whereas most migraine attacks produce symptoms that develop over minutes to hours.

The symptoms caused by a particular type of seizure may be identical to those reported during a migraine aura.

Even the brain activity detected by an EEG may be similarly abnormal during a migraine attack and a seizure.

There’s some debate among doctors about whether a migraine headache can lead straight into a seizure and be considered a pre-ictal headache.

A rare type of headache in people with epilepsy is the ictal headache. These headaches are actually seizure symptoms.

In general, migraines do not cause seizures. Migraines and seizures are two different neurological problems that have overlapping symptoms.

However, people who have migraines are twice as likely to have seizures.

One important commonality is that both migraine and epilepsy are what we call episodic disorders, meaning patients are generally normal, and then every so often they have spontaneous attacks.

It’s possible that an epileptic episode may have an effect on your migraines. The opposite can also be true.

Migraines may have an effect on the appearance of seizures. Researchers haven’t ruled out that these conditions appear together by chance.

Additionally it is no coincidence that there are epilepsy drugs that are actually effective in the treatment of migraines.

Research shows that Depacon (Valproate) and Topamax (Topiramate) are effective in treating migraines and epilepsy. And each has FDA approval for treating them together. 

Depakote (Divalproex Sodium) also works for both, creating a therapeutic “two-fer.”

There are also several other anti-epileptic drugs that have also been shown to lessen migraine headaches – such as Neurontin (Gabapentin), Keppra ( Levetiracetam) and Zonegran (Zonisamide).

However, the dose of AEDs in the treatment of migraines is usually lower than that used for epilepsy.

Let’s say you go the “safe” route and just have caffeine or take Excedrin. If you do more than two days per week on a chronic basis, you may end up with analgesic over usage or “rebound” headaches.

The latter are caused by the brain becoming “sensitized” by the caffeine, aspirin or acetaminophen so that you develop daily or near daily headaches as a result of taking these.

Also, for older adults, pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil and generic), naproxen (Alieve and generic), or aspirin, can have side-effects that include dizziness, cognitive issues, and increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

It’s like adding fuel to the fire.

So now what do you do?

Studies by Paul R. Martin, D. Phil., a psychologist and adjunct professor at Monash University in Australia, and others have suggested that simply adhering to a healthy lifestyle — which would naturally include avoiding triggers such as stress, toxic odors, hunger, dehydration, lack of sleep, etc. — may actually be more effective.

Your doctor can also help connect you with other treatment options if basic interventions are not helping.

For some people with frequent headaches, there is growing evidence that acupuncture may help prevent them, though more studies are needed.

Research has also suggested that biofeedback — which typically uses electrical sensors on your body to make you aware of and help you control physiological processes — may reduce chronic pain in some cases, including from headaches.

Then there are some more unorthodox ways to curb the pain. They may sound a little weird to you, but hey, if they work…

Sniff peppermint or lavender to offset strong smells that may trigger your seizures.

Strong smells may trigger a migraine in some people. Is there a way to block the stench of car exhaust or someone’s bad cologne?

Keep a vial of peppermint and lavender oils handy. Dab them on your skin and enjoy natural aromatherapy. Peppermint may ease pain for some people. Lavender might soothe anxious feelings.

Research shows that people who did yoga regularly for 3 months had fewer headaches. Yoga may also help ease pain, depression, and anxiety, make migraines less intense, and allow some people to take fewer headache meds.

And there’s the simple spice ginger. Yup, ginger. Tests show that it can make your headaches less intense with fewer side-effects than prescription drugs!

We need more research to be sure, but one study of 100 people who have migraines with aura showed that ginger powder worked as well as sumatriptan, a common migraine drug, when used for one month.

I’m not claiming these “little miracles” will cure your migraines.

Or even stop them in their tracks.

But they could go a long way in helping you to manage the miserable pain of migraines and take control over your life once again.

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  1. Reblogged this on Disablities & all sorts of Mental Health Issues and commented:
    I do hope you don’t mind me reblogging your post. If so pleas say so.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kenneth Ratcliffe — December 4, 2020 @ 11:22 AM

    • It fine. This information is to share and benefit from. The more the merrier.

      Just be sure you attribute either the author or the piece.

      Thanks for asking.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 4, 2020 @ 12:05 PM

  2. It’s Legal in California. That’s where I live. I have epilepsy and have seizures pretty much every day with Grand Mals some days. Took CBD to see if helps. Unfortunately it did not.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by prasadmok — December 4, 2020 @ 11:45 AM

  3. It’s always a crap shoot. The source, and most importantly, the combination of CBC (and THC if you’re including it.) If you’re serious about this, you really have to do some experimentation on your own, which I admit is a challenge. Especially if you’re trying to balance CBC and THC.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 4, 2020 @ 12:14 PM

  4. So I have GRAND MAL seizures that sometimes the herb LOBELIA will work 100% to stop the worst part of that from happening while other times it will shorten the time I am in them. I read up & hear the same thing about the VNS. Difference is a 1 ounce of lobelia is around $13.00. It also stop or prevents a headache from happening, helps relaxes all tension of the muscles that were stiff from a GRAND MAL after having it, & make the total CNS relax, where every area that a GRAND MAL seizure effects,

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — December 4, 2020 @ 12:51 PM

  5. Migraines were always my “canary in the coal mine” telling me when I was doing something that could lead to a seizure (e.g. not getting enough sleep, too much sugar, caffeine, etc.).
    Now that I have gone carnivore and my seizures are gone, the migraines going away too has been a pleasant side effect. Never really thought about it until this article.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by paleobird — December 4, 2020 @ 2:26 PM

    • That’s great. Unfortunately, I can only eat fish and chicken, but fortunately, I only have migraines once in every blue moon.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 4, 2020 @ 2:57 PM

  6. A few of us with epilepsy have weekly calls on Google Meet. One of us in the group has VNS but did not really help his situation. Obviously every person’s condition is different. Let me know If anyone with epilepsy want to participate in our weekly saturday calls. I can forward them then Google Meet info.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by prasadmok — December 4, 2020 @ 2:39 PM

  7. Migraine-Epilepsy -Caffeine

    I always thought it was interesting that Caffeine can provoke convulsions and yet the old treatment for the supposedly related condition migraine was CAFERGOT which contained Caffaine and ergotamine tartrate (derived from ergot of rye a deadly poison!) In the sixties Burroughs Wellcome (for whom I worked) sold an anti migraine product called MIGRAL which contained cafergot pus an anti emetic (cyclizine hydrochloride) to control the nausea often associated with Migraine. Just to make it even more confusing Migraine can be provoked by Caffeine withdrawal!

    Knowing the pharmaceutical industry I await the launch of MIGRAL-M, the -M being tne addition of marijuana, which will allow you to control Migraine and Epilepsy simultaneously- at a modest profit to my friends in big pharma!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Michael H — December 4, 2020 @ 2:40 PM

  8. Great!

    Did you read the article I just posted — there IS hope.

    NEWS FLASH: The UN now says medical weed is a less dangerous drug


    It’s a start…


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 4, 2020 @ 3:02 PM

  9. I can’t tell what form of headaches I have but I have headaches every other day. It could be my sinus or stress. When I get a bad one, it can go on for days with no pain reliever working.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Hetty Eliot — December 4, 2020 @ 9:03 PM

  10. my migraines took a strange turn 2017, I’ve had since I was a kid, 2 or 3 per month, on either side, for 3 days, I’m in UK and one explanation for them is enlarged veins. 2017 for 5 mths I had chronic migraines nearly killing me, then they stopped. A week later I collapsed with multiple pulmonary embolisms. Since that time I rarely have migraines, when they do happen it’s always on the right side, across my forehead, down my temple to my ear and sometimes it gives me a sudden stab of pain. Was it the clots that caused them? I’m now on anti coags bleeding like a haemophiliac. They used to tie in with menstruation but I’m well past menopause. Here in UK we use triptans for migraines, I’ve had sumatriptan and zolmitriptan, supposed to shrink the veins and they don’t act as a general pain killer, if that’s any help to anyone else, they’ve always eased mine and my sis’s too. Before drugs, Gran used lavender as you suggest, and Dad was a teacher in a bad school when terms finished he’d disappear with migraines for a few days due only to the stress, never had them any other time

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Gail Barry — December 5, 2020 @ 5:11 AM

  11. I think the multiple pulmonary embolisms might have been responsible for the migraines, but I’m no doc.

    I do know that stress can be a killer. Literally. And it can cause seizure and migraine flares with the cortisols released better than anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 5, 2020 @ 10:50 AM

  12. I get terrible migraines daily now. I have had over 40 brain operations operations.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Russell Ray Hanawalt — December 17, 2020 @ 8:57 PM

    • Jeez that’s a lot of brain operations. Were these due to epilepsy/seizures ? If so did you get rid of Seizures ?

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by prasadmok — December 17, 2020 @ 9:06 PM

    • Russell, some people report that regular Botox injections help with their migraines. I supposed you’ve tried this already?

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 18, 2020 @ 9:18 AM

  13. BE VERY CAREFUL if you should go to a VA hospital, or matter of fact try to get SSI , their drs claims / even the staff SSI hires , for SSI/ D OR ssi.. both say , no way can anyone have a migraine longer than 2 days ..know my son even had a stroke , VA claims it was seizure , { I even talked to his neruo very nice that was on my side & sons even told his dr , i have had seizures since i was 8 yrs , and know how they will sneak up in a blinding headache , no lights , no noise even high level noises , like EMTS POLICE , even those fire trucks , will send chills to make matters worst make you go into a vertigo stats , tried cold packs , Tylenol even Excedrin, now , on the costco migraine , for now works wonders { Alive , Motrin cant take because of liver , Gallbladder stones , & kidney stones , and drink lots of water aka H20 , too only thing .. also that works is VICKS rub , put on temple within 15-20 mins gone .. as for pot oil allergic to it even the smell of pot makes me gags plus being on insurance , and drs doing once a yr drug testing both can drop you in heartbeat .. know VA ,. Kaiser { friend of my son lost her job{ Fired } at Kaiser , , even my hospital UCD does drug testing , caught with any drug thats not on listing drs , medicare , even certain pharmacies can too ….. also tried acupuncture, for my back also my migraines but insurances / medi care doesnt cover it , OOP { out of pocket } only

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Cathy Flowers — May 20, 2021 @ 9:25 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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