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Diagnosis of Migraine & Headache Types

Diagnosis experiences & tests

  • By olcharlie

    Hello anyone,

    Looking for any insight I can get. I’ve always had some sinus drainage, more than most, and never been subject to headaches. My mother had a one time migraine that sent her to the ER and terrified her.

    For the last half dozen years I’ve had an annual “sinus infection” that would drag on for anywhere from two to four months. The Dr. would say my nasal tissues were inflammed and throw antibiotics at it. After four or five courses of as many different antibiotics it would eventually go away; though I can’t say the antibiotics deserve any credit. The symptoms were the aforementioned inflammation, a river of phlegm, night sweats and a debilitating malaise. No obvious fever, nothing showing in the blood tests, and nothing showing in the scratch tests to suggest significant allergies. No pain, but a sensation below my right eye of an overactive phlegm generator. I sometimes suspect a microscopic ET has crash landed in my schnozz.

    Four years ago I had a “one time” migraine that sent me to the ER. I had no idea what was happening and it ramped up for two days before a friend took me to the hospital. Now I’ve lived a rough and tumble life and thought I knew something about pain. But when the Dr. asked how bad it hurt on a scale of one to ten I identified it as a twenty-seven. After a lumbar puncture and CT scan the Dr. concluded it was a migraine, drugged me to hallucination and sent me home. I took sumatriptan fearfully for a week or so afterwards until it seemed to have finally gone away. At the time there seemed to be no association with the annual sinus infection.

    On December 10th of 2010 that migraine came back. Recognizing it I called the Dr. and he put me on sumatripan again… no more than two 100mg tablets in twenty-four hours. So I’m becoming more realistic about the one to ten scale and after a week of this began keeping track of when I took a pill. The second week I averaged one every ten hours gradually running down to twelve hours. I then had five days of no pills followed by a return to an average of two pills a day. This ranges from seven to fifteen hour spaces between pills.

    The Pain is always behind my right eye, radiating to include my right ear and sometimes down to the jaw on that side. The sumatripan will take effect after roughly an hour if I caught it in time, and it will ease down to float in a pain range of one or two with occasional spikes to seven or eight; never a zero I can vouch for. I can function with that, as long as I stay out of bright sunlight and away from heavy activity. If I’m experiencing an aura effect it’s too subtle for me to see. I’m afraid that if I really looked for the effect I could imagine it and so don’t really trust my observations as a patient. If I let it ramp up to a ten I end up horizontal with an ice pack in the quiet and dark room.

    Ct scans and cranial x-rays show nothing. I eliminated triptans, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, cheese, anything listed as a common trigger, with no change. I’ve even gone to bed only to be awakened by severe pain. It is now January 26th of 2011, and I believe it is still the same headache that began last month. The ET crash site is gushing phlegm as well. What am I not seeing? What have I failed to ask or try?

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  • By Elaine Gross

    I went through years of what the Doctor and I thought were sinus infections and rounds of antibiotics to no avail. I finally went to an ENT and got a CAT scan which came back clear. All those years I was misdiagnosed with sinus infections and prescribed antibiotics and really I was having migraines. The doctor did recommend Sinus Busters for a runny nose I was having due to a deviated septum. That really worked, but it does burn because it’s made from hot red peppers. Good luck to you, I hope you find a good doctor and effective treatment. I’m a chronic migraineur and it’s so difficult because I no I can’t take medication everytime I get a migraine because of rebound. So I only take them when I have an important occasion. It makes life very difficult.

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  • By Teri Robert

    oldcharlie,

    It sounds to me like it’s time to see a specialist. A neurologist might be able to help, but it’s important to note that they’re not necessarily Migraine specialists. If there’s a Migraine and headache specialist near you, I’d suggest seeing one. You can find a listing of patient recommended specialists at http://www.helpforheadaches.com/doctors/migraine-headache-specialists.htm.

    One thing that concerns me about your doctor is that he didn’t tell you not to use sumatriptan/Imitrex more than two or three days a week. This is important because using medications to relieve a Migraine attack more than two or three days a week can make matters worse by causing medication overuse headaches. You can find more on this at https://migraine.com/blog/living-with-migraine/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/.

    The most important thing is that you don’t have to live like this. There are now over 100 medications in use for Migraine prevention. There are also seven medications in the triptan family, the family of sumatriptan. It’s well worth trying the others to see if they work better for you than sumatriptan.

    Good luck,
    Teri

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  • By Teri Robert

    Elaine,

    You said something that makes me feel so bad for you. You said, “I’m a chronic migraineur and it’s so difficult because I no I can’t take medication everytime I get a migraine because of rebound. So I only take them when I have an important occasion. It makes life very difficult.”

    I hate to see people trying to live like that. Are you seeing an actual Migraine specialist?

    Teri

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  • By olcharlie

    Thank you for responding so quickly. I was dimly aware of the medication over use issue from online searches; but didn’t realize it was a twice a week thing. My doctor is an old friend from my hippy days; I knew him when he was a lawyer and he didn’t go to medical school until he turned fifty. So while I trust him, I understand he isn’t the most experienced guy around. He is the sort to look things up but will also concede quality of life issues over longevity because of our venerability.

    The closest specialist appears to be a four hour drive away. Whether or not they’d take medicare I’ll have to inquire. In the meantime, I’m now thinking I should test the over use issue by allowing one to go full bore for a day and see if it passes. I’d hate to think it’s lasted this long because of my own fumbling, but must concede the possibility. But this experiment will have to wait for a few weeks as my wife just had surgery and wont be back on her feet for a while.

    I would like to clarify if Elaine’s migraine was misdiagnosed as a sinus headache, as my own sinus issues never came with any pain, just the phlegm and fever like malaise.

    Thanks again.

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  • By Teri Robert

    Charlie,

    You’re welcome. Always glad to try to help. One day without the sumatriptan won’t necessarily answer the medication overuse question. It takes most people at least a couple of weeks off the medication that’s causing it to see improvement.

    On traveling to a specialist – I hear you! When I first needed a specialist, there’s wasn’t a single one in my state, so I traveled eight hours each direction. It was worth every mile, every minute.

    Keep me posted on how you’re doing?

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  • By olcharlie

    Well I’ve not taken a sumatriptan for seventeen days now. I’m taking sudafed up to three times a day instead. There’s still low grade rumblings throughout each day with occasional minor spikes. But it hasn’t ramped up badly enough to warrant returning to the sumatriptan that I’m am hoarding just in case. I’ve no way of knowing that the sudafed is responsible but disinclined to quit it any time soon. The aforementioned “alien crash site” is in line with the trigeminal nerve on the right side and allowing the phlegm to flow from there increases the fearful rumblings. But the process of aging seems as mysterious in detail as the mystery of life. No great surprise I suppose, but surrendering enthusiasm in favor of philosophy is something of a loss.

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