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Migraines and CPAP Machines

My new doctor suspected that my chronic migraines were triggered by sleep apnea. I was sent to the sleep clinic and found to have sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP machine. Weirdly (or maybe not?) the machine itself seems to be triggering migraines. At first it was the mask, which tightly wrapped around the top of my head. I have now switched masks, but it seems to be the forced air through my sinuses that is triggering the migraines. Has anyone else experienced this?

  1. Shanei, thank you for reaching out. You are not alone struggling with the mask and adjusting to a CPAP machine with migraine. I thought this article might be of interest to you:
    https://migraine.com/blog/adventures-behind-the-mask/
    Additionally, this topic was discussed on the forum and I thought you might appreciate reading the discussion:
    https://migraine.com/topic/migraine-and-cpap-headaches/
    I would encourage you to reach out to your doctor(s) if you haven't already and discuss your symptoms and see what recommendations s/he may have. Please check back and let us know how you are managing. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

    1. Hi Shanei, I was interested by your post since I too am on CPAP and my migraines went from episodic to chronic right around the time I started PAP therapy.

      I had a sleep test because I was having "hypnic" headaches at night (headaches that wake you up from sleep but aren't migraines). I tested in the "moderate" range for nightly obstructive events, which would not typically trigger a prescription for CPAP, but at one point during the test my oxygen saturation level dropped below 80% which the sleep medicine doc felt it could cause hypnic headaches.

      I adjusted well to CPAP and have been on it 2 years. Right around the time I started it, my hypnic headaches improved, but I started having more frequent daytime headaches and this got worse and eventually developed into chronic migraine. (I' had episodic migraine since about 2000, with some long remission periods which I could live with. I was never chronic until starting CPAP. )

      I've learned a bit about the physiological causes of migraine and can't see how CPAP could trigger them, but the timing is suspicious. I wonder how many others are affected and wish someone would study this. A decision to go off of CPAP to control migraines could have some serious unintended consequences, so I'm not there yet. Just wish there was more info out there.

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