Medication Overuse Headache Alert!
As you may well imagine, I fancy myself a migraine patient expert. I try to keep up with the latest remedies and preventive measures; I continually aim to educate others about this debilitating disease so that, ultimately, it’s not as debilitating. I talk with other writers and readers through this blog, and I visit Migraine.com pretty consistently to see what the doctors and patient advocates have to say.
So you can imagine my surprise when I realized last weekend that I am totally overdosing on my medications. Like, for real. Like, no wonder I have had so many more migraine attacks in the last few months. It wasn’t just because I keep falling off the exercise/diet/yoga wagon. It wasn’t just because I’ve been [ineffectively] dealing with the stress of my busy schedule and starting my business. I think the main culprit is MOH, or “medication overuse headache,” which you can learn more about here.
You see, I have become such an “expert” that I have let myself off the hook when it comes to getting a new neurologist. I fired my most recent one awhile back now and, despite my intentions, have yet to hire a new one. The task just seems so intimidating, and for awhile I was feeling so wonderful (especially due to the help of my primary care doctor and my complementary care physician) that I didn’t “need” to get a new migraine specialist. My Imitrex package says not to take it more than two days a week. My Maxalt says I can take it three days a week. Both sets of instructions indicate I should not take one triptan within 24 hours of the other.
So here’s what I’ve been doing lately, especially during my particularly migrainous periods: I’ve been taking one triptan for as many days as allowed, and when the migraine came up yet again within the same week, I waited the requisite 24 hours and took another type of drug.
WRONG! Bad Janet!
During the National Headache Foundation’s mini-conference in Georgia this month, I heard from (and spoke with) a handful of migraine and headache disease specialists and found out something I used to know for myself: that it’s not safe to take triptans so often! I am making myself sicker by taking too many meds!
This week my cycle starts again; a few days ago I had one day of taking Maxalt but refrained the next day, even when a migraine hit. I had the rare opportunity to stay in bed, so between the migraine and my cold , I felt I had some pretty good reasons to rest up. I took my Theraflu and a naproxen (in an attempt to ward off my menstrual-related migraine, I am resuming an old habit, recommended by my former neurologist, of taking naproxen starting two days before my period and continuously throughout the period). And you know what? I felt better! I don’t know if it was the rest, or the drugs, or both, but I felt better and I hadn’t continued my MOH cycle. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can keep this up, and please take my advice if you are trying to self-treat and may not have all the knowledge you should: use your doctor’s expertise and the information on Migraine.com to make sure you’re not making your condition worse!
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