Chronic migraine and memory loss

Is there a correlation between chronic migraines, the frequency of them and memory loss?

I recently had the longest stretch of migraines I think I ever had, 10 days. Now my short term memory is worse than it was.


Community Answers
  • ellenp
    12 months ago

    I woke up one morning in mid-November with transient global amnesia. Roughly 2 months that I know of are just gone. During that time a very close family member died, I was at the hospital 24/7 during his sudden illness, I planned, organized, and spoke at his memorial and I do not remember any of it. I work in a hospital. During the memory loss period we moved into a beautiful new facility, were absorbed by a large medical group, I switched from day shift to nights and – you guessed it. No memory of any of it.

    This has been followed by unrelenting, chronic, daily migraine. I’ve been out of work since it started, am on FMLA, and am considering applying for disability. I’m 56 and have worked since I was 15, and should have paid plenty into the program.

    My question for those of you who have successfully applied for disability – well, what do I need to know? Was it a nightmare? How do I even start? Do I have to have been out of work for a certain period of time?

    I appreciate any input from anyone who may have suffered a memory loss like this, and any advice as I consider applying for disability.

  • Savta45 author
    12 months ago

    Hi Ellenp,
    Wow! You’re story makes my intermittent short term memory loss sound like a walk in the park in comparison! Now THATS scary stuff! Had you suffered from migraines before the amnesia happened? And, the neurologists are SURE you didnt have a stroke? Cause, it sure sounds suspicious to me!
    You said that you worked in a hospital—are you a nurse? I am/was. I hadn’t done hospital nursing in many years, however, having burnt out of ICU/CCU care.In any case, yes, I did have to retire early, & applied successfully for disability. I had heard all kinds of horror stories about how difficult, almost impossible it was going to be to get it, but it was not at all problematic for me.
    My migraine history is radically different from yours, however. I’d been having migraines for 7 years before I had to quit, and it was well documented that I had tried many, many avenues of treatment, both traditional & non traditional, as well as coping mechanisms while at work. The frequency of my migraines became worse & worse. I was so often either calling in sick or having to go home before my shift was done. I’m also very limited with the medicine I can take due to the Anticoagulants (2) that I have to take for chronic DVTs.
    I was on FMLA for years & that had been saving my skin. But, you have to work 1200 hours in a year in order to qualify for FMLA. (Talk about a catch 22! You have to be healthy enough to work those many hours, or the protection that garuntees that your employer won’t fire you due to your disability is no longer applicable! If I wasn’t sick, wouldn’t I be at work? The doctor has to verify that you actually do have a medical condition, every year.)
    Anyway, I had barely squeaked by the year before, & I knew I wouldn’t have the requisite number of hours for FMLA that year. So, I would be a set up for disciplinary action. In a Union environment, managers have no choice. And, eventually, it would lead up to dismissal. That means termination. I had worked for this company for 28 years. I’d been a nurse for 39 years. I couldn’t get another job, & I wasn’t going out like that. Not after all I’d seen & done, no way.
    So, my best advice to you is to make sure EVERYTHING regarding your illness from day 1 is well documented. Nothing is too obscure or minute, it all counts. Keep all your return to work slips, or whatever your facility calls them, when your doctor excused you from work. I’d probably copy them, just in case. I was in the ? enviable position that my place of work was also my health provider, so it was all there. Make sure your doctor/s is/are onboard with your situation & decision. Sounds ridiculous, but you never know.
    My very best wishes to you. I can’t imagine that they could deny you. How could you work, under your circumstances? I hope that the information I’ve shared may help.

  • oruxp1
    12 months ago

    I’ve had migraines since I was 17. I’m now 65. Mine have always been chronic, like my Dad. I’m never headache free, it just varies in intensity. Thankfully , I’ve never had vomiting, so that makes being pseudo normal a lot easier. I also suffer from Hypersomnia, which, to me, is worse than the migraine, but I I find it hard to separate the two. Kind of a chicken/egg situation in my mind.
    With that intro into my life, I have found a strong correlation between the migraines and short term memory. I think that some of it is that even when I’m trying to talk, or remember something, my mind is distracted by the tightness in my head. I have been told that it could be damage from the migraines, as well as my lack of REM sleep. I attempted to have testing done, but the neurologist that I was sent to in order to be screened as needing the test was an idiot. Yes, I can repeat 5 words back to you, as well as identify pictures of items. But ask me to tell a story, or give directions and I want to curl up and die from embarrassment. It seems to be proper nouns that screw my up. Names, places, streets, that sort of thing., and it has gotten worse over the years. They also like to tell you that it’s age, but this has been happening for years.

  • Savta45 author
    12 months ago

    Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your story. I’m going to be 65 in May, so close behind you, but only started getting migraines when I was 57. They’ve been getting progressively worse. During the actual migraine, I can’t think at all! I’m completely useless. But, previously, once they were over, I’d pretty much be back to my normal self. Now, not so much…it’s concerning.

  • FGC79
    12 months ago

    That happens to me too. Very scary! However, I noticed my memory loss was worse when I was taking Maxalt (melt tabs 10 mg). I stopped all prescription migraine meds in 4/2016. Now only take Excedrin Migraine & natural remedies. The pain sticks around longer but my Memory is better – not as good as it was a couple of yrs ago – but better. Btw I am 54 & have suffered w/migraines since I was a kid. Have tried different kinds of meds over the yrs, treated w/ various neurologists, chiropractors, etc. I used Maxalt for about 10 yrs. it took care of my pain but was erasing my memory.

  • Savta45 author
    12 months ago

    Hi FGC79,
    Thanks for your response. I’m glad you recognized what was causing the memory loss, & are able to manage successfully without that medication. I have never, & will never, be able to take Maxalt or any other Triptan, due to the multiple blood clots I’ve had. I’m currently taking Topamax, an anti-seizure medication, as it’s one of the few that I can safely take. I’ve taken it for a few years, but the memory loss has only been recent. I have tried a multitude of natural remedies, vitamins, feverfew, acupuncture, biofeedback, concentrated oxygen, etc., without any help. The only other medications I can take are plain Tylenol & Norco, which I try to avoid.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    12 months ago

    Hi Naomisdtr18,

    Great question, but one I’m not sure we know the complete answer to! It’s entirely possible to have memory issues before, during and after a migraine attack. Postdrome, the last phase of a migraine attack, can last up to 48 hours for some of us and leave us feeling exhausted, depressed and have memory issues. Take a look at this when you get a chance; https://migraine.com/migraine-basics/migraine-phases/.

    I’m sorry you had such a long period of migraine pain, I know how frustrating that can be. We don’t like to see migraine pain last longer than 72 hours as it can increase our risk of status migrainous and stroke. We have more information on this here; https://migraine.com/blog/what-is-emergency/.

    I hope this helps!
    Nancy

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