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Kidney Disease as a result of my Migraines

I had my first migraine when I was 17. Mine are not nearly as severe as many that I have read about. In fact, I had no idea that they were migraines. I simply thought that I was having a headache. And so, when I experienced a migraine, I took Aspirin. Usually, it would go away, although I had some that lasted two or three days. Most often, the second and third day were not nearly as severe.

I got married and had children and you have to function so I continued taking aspirin. In fact, I took so many that my husband and mother-in-law told me I would destroy my stomach. So I switched to Advil which became my new drug of choice. And I went through bottles of my new drug.

Sure enough, the Advil and the Aspirin did destroy my stomach. I would take a pill and have stomach pain for 3-5 days. So, I finally went to the doctor who, after running some tests to rule out a tumor, diagnosed me with migraines. She also gave me some new abortives including Maxalt. And I went to the Cedar Sinai Pain Clinic in Los Angeles and got preventatives that worked for 25 years. (I am struggling once again, but that is another story for another time.)

Six years ago, I came down with a lung problem. The doctor wanted me to have a CT scan to see why I was getting pneumonia so often. They take a blood test first to make sure your kidneys can handle the iodine for the CT scan. My kidney function was low and I had Stage 3 Kidney disease. As I do not have high blood pressure, diabetes, am not overweight, eat properly, etc., the only thing that could account for my kidney problem was the massive amounts of aspirin and Advil that I had taken over the years. I am not sure what I could have done differently. Tylenol does not work for me and drugs like Maxalt, Relpax, Imitrix had not come out when I first had migraines. Nevertheless, be careful when taking drugs. Watch your kidney and liver functions scores when you have your check ups.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • deborahvan-der-harst
    6 years ago

    Hi Linda, I had the opposite happen: Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Stage 3 first and migraines second. My CKD happened for a different reason and I had had it since I was a pre-schooler. I discovered I had it in 2009 during a physical and of course it was already at Stage 3 but the eGFR was at 60. The doc said I could live to be 100. How it got to Stage 3 was by my abusing Advil to treat pain for my shinsplints so that I could train for a marathon. Eventually not even the Advil took the pain away, and my creatinine level was higher than it should’ve been after my 2009 physical. All I had to do was stop taking NSAIDs and pick up a different form of exercise. Then, the migraines started. Like everyone, I thought they were headaches. I called my doc who prescribed something safe to take. But, my headaches started coming more frequently, so I took more of the meds. They stopped working so I called my doc again. She referred me to a migraine specialist. What! He told me I had rebound headaches from taking too many meds for too many days in a row. Whoever heard of that? I was on steroids to break the cycle of pain that had been started from my lack of knowledge. No doctor had ever told me about rebound headaches, and I was angry. The bottles or labels don’t mention the risk. That is BS! Steroids have risks too. I now have cataracts from the steroids. Ask about other options. I was so happy to have relief from the pain I didn’t ask.

    Migraine sufferers are limited to the types of migraine meds they can take if they also have CKD. I cannot take indomethecin for instance, which is a great med for people who get exercise induced headaches.

    I recently went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN because I was also diagnosed with idiopathic pancreatitis and it was affecting my kidney function. Two enzymes were elevated twice, but I learned it was because of the CKD and that I never had pancreatitis. It pays to have things checked out.

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