Completely unofficial, made-up migraine types: the wind tunnel

Completely unofficial, made-up migraine types: the wind tunnel

Completely Unofficial, made-up migraine types: the wind tunnel headache

Like most of us, I cannot say for sure when I began having migraines. I wrote about what I now think may have been my first major migraine attack, but even before that I had aches and discomfort that none of my other friends seemed to experience.

My most distracting and memorable headaches of childhood and adolescence were what I still think of as the “wind tunnel” headaches. I recall trying to explain the feeling to a friend who wanted to know why that day’s headache felt different from the occasional tension headaches we were all accustomed to by early adolescence.  I said something to the effect of, “It’s like the left side of my head has been hollowed out, but not with a knife or anything.  It’s just that there’s a long, thin tunnel that goes from the front of my head to the back. And then cold wind is blowing through it.”


Um. Okay.  I can see how, to someone who’s never had migraine disease or another type of serious headache disorder wouldn’t know what in the world I was talking about. I don’t remember the pain being severe enough that I really needed others to understand— it was more of a nagging feeling that something was off with me, but it was never so bad back then that I couldn’t continue with my day.

Once I became an adult, this particular brand of migraine episode fell by the wayside.  Until I reached my thirties, I’d thought of the wind tunnel headache as something of the past. I imagine, in particular, the field behind my elementary school where we had PE each day. We’d have to run laps around the baseball backstops to warm up, and when I was in sixth or seventh grade I would sometimes experience the wind tunnel headaches while running. It wasn’t until I saw a friend’s utterly confused face when I mentioned the windy discomfort in my brain that I realized I was the only one who was feeling that way.

For whatever reason, the wind tunnel headache/migraine has staged a return in the last year or so.  I’ve been getting a lot of migraines lately, and about every fifth or sixth one is a wind tunnel headache. As I’m typing, I’m waiting (perhaps in vain?) for my triptan to kick in to rid me of this migraine attack.  The wind is back, cutting straight through the hole in my head that runs from my left eyeball to the nape of my neck. The cool wind is blowing slowly but steadily, making the exposed part of my brain feel as if it has hairs standing on end.

Have you ever experienced this totally unofficial type of migraine, or have you had pain and discomfort that mimic this pattern?  Why do you think some attacks feature the wind tunnel headache and some do not?  Have you ever tried to describe the sensation to another person?

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