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Why Can’t a Cold Just Be a Cold? I Always Get a Migraine, Too.

When I’m sick with anything other than migraine, I joke with my friends and family: “I can handle a migraine like a pro,” I say, “but give me the cold, the flu, or a backache, and I turn into a whine machine.”  (Or something like that.  And yes, I am dorky enough to use made-up phrases like “whine machine.”)

I’ve had two or three colds in 2014. It seems as if I get colds more frequently than I used to, but really I have a feeling their seeming increased occurrence seems mostly to do with the fact that I’m getting older and time is going by faster. In any case, by early May of this year I had had two different week-long colds and I was over it.

When I get a cold, I may whine (a lot), but I can handle it.  I sniffle and sneeze and make sure to have my own personal box of tissues nearby. I follow my mama’s advice and drink lots of clear liquids and use the opportunity to get as much sleep as possible—this time under the auspices of health needs, not general laziness. If I must work at the bookshop, I refrain from hugging anyone or shaking hands, and I wash my hands and all our shared work tools (computer keyboard, mouse, cash drawer, etc.) when I finish my shift.  In short, I’m pretty careful not to spread my germs, and if I feel really bad, I stay home.

Here’s what aggravates me the most about having a cold, though: I always end up with a migraine on top of it all.  It drives me absolutely nuts.  “Why can’t a cold just be a cold!?” I say as I shake my fist in the air.  (Though shaking my fist would probably jar my head, which would make the pain worse, so maybe that particular caricature should give it a rest.)

As soon as I get a handle on the cold and its gross particulars, a migraine comes along. Is it because a migraine would have shown up this week no matter what? Is it because my head is stuffy? Is it because I have been sleeping more than usual or have had interrupted sleep due to discomfort from the cold?  Have I had a loss in appetite due to the virus and accidentally skipped meals, causing my blood sugar levels to vacillate unhealthily?

When I get the migraine on top of the cold, I’m officially useless. This is when I get my store shifts covered and, in spite of my best hopes, end up not even writing a quick email back to folks to say, “I’m not feeling well. I’ll be in touch soon.”

Do you migraineurs out there find that you tend to get a migraine on top of whatever temporary ailment you’re dealing with? When your body is already sick and tired with something unrelated to migraine, what measures do you take to make sure you stay migraine-free for as long as you can?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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