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Swimming and Migraine

Hi, I've had migraines forever. But the last 6 months or more they have gotten a whole lot worse. I even had my hair hurt and I've never had that beforw. At any rate I love swimming in the summer. Well with migraines now I'm lucky to get out of bed most times. I feel guilty. My question is how can I swim and enjoy without horrific pain. In 2 months I've lost 18 lbs. And I'm trying to avoid or at least less pain? Is that even possible anymore. As I sit here with an ice pack lol.

  1. Hi , I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard time! Can I ask a question, who treats your migraines? It sounds like you have experienced quite an uptick in your frequency and/or intensity of the migraines you experience, and it's a good idea to see your doctor again when that happens.


    Generally, our community members go through three stages- first, they see their primary care doctor for treatment of migraine, then they see a neurologist, then they see a certified headache specialist. It's not necessary to see a neurologist before you see a certified headache specialist. Many people don't realize that there are certified headache specialists. When you get a chance take a look at these articles on how these doctors are different and how to find one;
    http://migraine.com/blog/how-are-migraine-specialists-different/ and https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/.
    This link will give you all the doctors in the US who are board certified in headache medicine; https://www.ucns.org/Online/Diplomate_Directory/Online/Diplomate_Directory.aspx?hkey=f8f00552-f924-4ef6-a9bb-6023b1cd341b (sort by headache as the speciality). Let me know what you think! Wishing you gentle days ahead. ~Melanie (team member)

    1. Well, lots of therapists can work with people who have trauma and PTSD. But it may be helpful to look for someone who is skilled in doing therapy with people that are chronically ill. Something to think about: if you think you might want to try medication for your mental health, a psychiatrist is a doctor who can prescribe those meds while also doing therapy. That could be useful considering you are on lots of other medications -- it's important to make sure nothing interacts.

      PsychologyToday.com is a good place to look for a therapist in your area, because you can filter your search based on insurance and issues they specialize in. I also like to read Google reviews to see what other people think. You could also ask your neuro or your GP if they have any good recommendations for a therapist. All of these things have worked well for me!

      You've been through a lot ... try to be gentle with yourself and remember that everyone needs help sometimes. There's no shame in seeking out therapy -- in fact it's a brave thing to do. Hugs. -Melissa, migraine.com tem

    2. hi, thank you so much for the information. Because I am having a rough time even to think because my migraines are taking over (seems like it at any rate). Hugs

  2. I'm sorry you're suffering and completely understand. I love to swim as well. I find that if I can manage to get to the pool, I often feel better after 30 minutes or so of swimming. I think the cool water may have an anti-inflammatory effect. I wouldn't swim if I were nauseous but with a "regular" headache or moderate migraine symptoms, I often get a little relief from a swim.

    1. Thank you so much for your reply. I wouldn't swim with those conditions either but the trouble is I never know for sure if I'm going to get sick with my stomach. I've even had to cancel Dr appointments last minute like 5 or 10,minutes before.

    2. I usually swim twice a week. Since Covid, our pool has restrictions as to when you can reserve a lane, etc. so twice is all I can usually manage.

  3. Last year I swam every chance I got. We have our own intex pool.
    Thank you for replying

    1. That's awesome that you have access to a pool all the time! I'm sure you and your family enjoy it. I hope as the weather warms up, that you get a lot of use out of it. Warmly, Cheryl migraine.com team

  4. I'm so sorry. Migraine impacts my exercise as well. I know that migraines change throughout my life - symptoms come and go and severity does the same. When I got into my 40s my migraines became much worse. As others have suggested, when migraines increase in pain and frequency, it's important to see your doctor. Migraines can trigger other migraines and you can get into a cycle. The new CGRP blockers or other preventative can help break the cycle. Please don't let it go too long without seeing a doctor or a neurologist - we all want you to get back to the things you love.

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