Aging Migraine

Have any of you other women out there experienced changes in your migraines as you age. I am in the over 50 crowd and things are changing. For one I now have started having Ocular Migraines too. I am thankful there is no associated pain, but they make it very difficult to do anything, fortunately they don’t last real long.

I have had migraines associated with my cycle for years without aura, but I have noticed as I am aging I tend to have somewhat of an aura. Whether it is light headedness, dizzy, vision issues, I usually experience something before the migraine actually hits. My migraines once they start most always last six days. Three days on one side of my head kind of letting up on the third day then switching to the other side for three more days. It doesn’t seem to matter the cause, they still last that long. It makes taking meds a problem.

I use Relpax followed an hour or two later by Frova. Usually get pretty good relief, but the migraine will return the next day. I usually just fight through it the next day and take meds if needed the third day, trying to avoid rebound headaches or overuse of medications.

Anyone else experience any of this?

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  • jgargiulo
    1 year ago

    At 18 I thought I was dying, got in my car at college and drove home to be with my family. After seeing the family doctor I was told I had a migraine. No idea what the trigger but after some rest I returned to college and didn’t see another migraine for about 12 years. This time there was a string of them over several months. My doctor did a head to toe examination and said I did not have a textbook migraine. Mine were triggered by dark chocolate. My migraines at that point started out with aura of tingling of my fingertips, end of my tongue and spots before my eyes, then came nausea, sickness and then bam the headache. The doctor gave me a series of meds to take, including something under the tongue and then, of course, I had no more migraines occur for a while. I avoided too much dark chocolate in my diet, such as during the same 24 hour period, week long period, etc. Just little parts here and there. About 7 years after that they started recurring. I took immitrex and it pretty much took them down. Then one day the tinest piece of dark chocolate cake became a large trigger. The neurologist said to treat all my headaches as migraines and kill them, immediately. Not to baby anything. Seek and destroy. I stayed away from all chocolate and destroyed any headache’s approach. As I entered my 50’s when I got migraines they were aura only. Trigger’s weren’t obvious ones, but the broken vision aura was. I took my immitrex and sought darkness. Stress and maybe hormonal changes could be stressers besides some chocolates or foods with the same ingredient as European chocolates is my best guess. But the pain no longer accompanied the migraines. Sometimes my ability to speak, spell or to find words also disappeared which was more scary than the pain which no longer appeared. Then at a class reunion friend sent me in another direction – oxygen therapy. It has been great. When the aura begins with broken vision I don my oxygen mask for 15 minutes at 10 parts. In 15 minutes it is over, my vision is restored. Still have the party was held in my head feeling but that migraine is over with. I want to mention that I have less migraines when I remember to keep well hydrated. Of course, being well rested and reducing stress helps too. But being well hydrated was another eye opening find (of my husband’s). Also make sure your Vitamin D levels aren’t low. Get that checked. So to recap…hydrate, avoid (minimize) triggers, oxygen therapy. I use immitrex if it too much time between migraine start and getting to the oxygen tank occurs, then I rest. Oxygen therapy is used for cluster headaches but it works great for my migraines. Sometimes I believe my migraines may be weather related but I’ve never kept that type of journal – too busy living. Hope you find peace!

  • Nana Rominger
    8 years ago

    Just read your entry and I can relate. From 20-45 one side migraine pain with symptoms. At 45-60 visual/ocular migraine with head pressures requiring rest but only tylenol. From 35-to present I have taken Propanolol daily which has lessened my attacks. The 60+ years I have groups of ocular migraines, sometimes multiple in a day and then skip months and repeat the pattern. Now I have strange head pressures but no real pain and unless I am driving or doing something that I can’t see because of the lights moving around my vision, I continue on with whatever I am doing. I cannot determine triggers for this type. You have had much more severe migraines than I ever had and it would be wonderful if they decrease with age.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    Hello JoniB,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You bring up a few really important points for readers and I’m so glad you’ve written about them here.

    As we age, our Migraines can change. I’m not yet over 50, but I’m close, and I too have noticed a lot of changes throughout the years. I’m surgically post-menopausal as well, so although I may not yet have hit the 50 mark, my body is in denial. You are not alone 🙂

    You mention Ocular Migraine. You should know that there is not an actual diagnosis for ocular Migraine according to the International Headache Society (the powers-that-be in headache medicine). I hear about these diagnoses coming usually from doctors that don’t specialize in headache disorders, especially old school doctors. Because the search term is so common, many websites go ahead and have pages dedicated to ocular Migraine, but this isn’t to be mistaken for an actual diagnosis which will help your doctor decide how best to treat you. Migraine.com’s Teri Robert has written about ocular Migraine a few times because this pops up so frequently. You might be interested in reading one article in particular that is really helpful: http://bit.ly/dYCd0l

    It’s difficult to tell from your written symptoms exactly what you are experiencing, but it may be Migraine with Aura. Aura can be different for each person and may be very mild, or completely incapacitating. To be sure, you might want to read about Migraine Prodrome too, because this is what patients most frequently suffer and have simply never been given the name for it. It is one of the stages of a Migraine attack. You can read about it here: “What is Migraine Prodrome?” http://bit.ly/hP599D Learning about our Migraine attacks is really the key to talking with our doctors about them and getting appropriate treatment for them. Keep on educating yourself and being a proactive patient!

    The other thing I wanted to ask you about is whether your doctor is aware that you are taking both Relpax and Frova at the same time… Did he/she prescribe them to be used this way? I ask because these drugs are in the same class and are not *normally* prescribed this way. They can also be responsible for problems if they are used too frequently or otherwise not appropriately. This makes me wonder about the headache you get after their use. Again, this might be something you really should be discussing with a headache specialist who has received specialized training in diagnosing and treating Migraine and headache disorders. I do know a lot of doctors are using Frova in patients with hormonal Migraines because it is longer acting than most of the other triptans. It is sometimes even used as a Migraine prophylactic for those women whose Migraines are intimately connected to their cycles. Yet another question you might have for a headache specialist!

  • JoniB author
    8 years ago

    To answer your question, taking Relpax piggy backed with Frova was prescribed by a Migraine Specialist. A Neurologist that owns a migraine clinic. It was after experimenting with many different drug interactions, including daily preventative meds. It was also this doctor that told me I had experienced an Ocular Migraine. If you look up Ocular Migraine on the Mayo website it described what I experienced to a tee. My physician suffers from migraines himself, has written books on the subject.

    My symptoms don’t really fit into the Prodrome description. I have been experiencing more of dizziness, light headedness along with visual issues. I work mostly on the computer and I will have a real problem with focusing enough to read the screen. I also am experiencing much worse nausea and just an over all sick feeling. The only blessing in all of this is as I get older I am experiencing fewer migraines each month. I know several factors I need to keep an eye on, making sure I eat in regular intervals has become very important and getting enough sleep. I have dealt with migraines for a very long time and I hope some day no one will have to suffer from them.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    I’m so glad you’re seeing a specialist. I really believe that is the best way for complicated cases like ours to get the best treatment. Sometimes that means thinking outside of the box like your doctor is obviously doing too. I hope it works for you. If ever it doesn’t, just remember that there are other options out there too.

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