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Diarrhea and Constipation

  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    K5th,

    I wish I could say that your problem was unique. Indeed, it is not. The only thing I have found helpful is to slow the gut motility down. For me this means taking a tylenol 3. It does little for the pain I experience, but it does act to slow my gut down so that I’m not running to the bathroom every 10 minutes for hours. It’s important to remember that Migraine is a systemic disease – that is to say that it affects our entire bodies, not just our heads. I had other physicians try anti-spasmodic medicines to see if that would help me, but I had no luck with them and stopped them fairly quickly. I wish there were better advice to give, but the best I can say is that treating the Migraine itself usually has a positive effect on the digestive part of the attack. Because it is actually a part of the attack and can result in malabsorption problems, it does need to be dealt with. I found that my headache specialist was best able to help me. My gastroenterologist was not worth the time it too to see him I’m afraid…

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  • By seaoats

    do migraines sysmptoms accelerate this is gone way beon diarrhea what do i do went to a neurolgist 3rd visit she suggested i go to one someone else migraines have been on going for 42 yrs the diarrhea for a couple of months

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  • By Teri Robert

    SEAOATS,

    When diarrhea is a Migraine symptoms, it should stop when the Migraine stops. It wouldn’t happen between Migraines if it were caused by the Migraines. If you’re having diarrhea a lot when you don’t have a Migraine, this is something you should discuss with your primary physician.

    Teri

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  • By taralane

    I never thought my diarrhea had anything to do with my migraines, until I started having them around the same time as my migraines – either before or after.

    I am having a lot of trigger changes right now, especially with food. I am having to let go of most of dairy foods – milk, especially. I can still eat eggs, and some goat milk or goat cheese, but in moderation only. I am using almond milk, and that seems OK, but I have had to cut way back on beans, vegetables, and yogurt (one of my favorite foods). As a vegetarian, this has been hard on me trying to make sure I get enough protein. Soy products do not sit well with my stomach, so my diet selection is getting pretty thin. I have been taking probiotics with some success, and that is helping what I can and cannot eat, but it is a real balancing act.

    I am starting to note when the diarrhea seems to be related to the migraine and when it is food related. So much of my life is related to migraines at this point it is hard to separate things out.

    taralane

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    HANGINGBYATHREAD – Unfortunately you are not alone. It is really vitally important that you get proper nutrition. If you are unable to get sufficient protein with your current diet, it might be time to either see a dietician or to change your diet – however temporary that might be – to make sure you are getting what your body needs. The insufficiencies themselves can cause triggers so should be considered in the mix as well.

    Those of us with food triggers do have a hard time I’m afraid. There are so many things we eat that we don’t even know are triggers. Couple that with the fact that those triggers are stackable/cumulative and, well, life does get complicated. Since you are still eating eggs, I hope you are able to keep up your protein needs that way at least.

    It really might be time for an appointment with a registered dietician…

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  • By HoneybeeKC

    Ellen and hangingbyathread,

    I’ve had migraines since childhood and it seems my triggers are changing or I’m noticing different ones now. Just recently, my stomach has been bothering me with my migraines. I can relate with almost everything hangingbyathread. (I was a veggie years ago but couldn’t get enough nutrients so had to change)

    Anyway, where should I go? Who should I visit? I’ve been considering a team of doctors at a well known hospital. Have you known anyone in live when they collaborate with multiple drs?

    Hanging, how do you cope?

    Thanks for response and consideration.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    HoneybeeKC – I have often seen Teri comment to patients that it is the doctor that is the most important component in a health care decision – not a clinic. I totally agree with her, for several reasons, the least being that has been my own personal experience as well. I really, truly believe that it is better to hang in there and wait if you have to in order to get the physician you want, than take somebody just because they’re there. Sometimes those situations work out okay, other times I’ve seen them crash and burn.

    As far as multiple physicians – a multi-modal approach is really the best bet for most of us. We may go to a clinic and see a headache specialist, a physical therapist, a psychologist and any other number of doctors who each take part of the problem and try to help us optimize our lives. In this way you get the best care in each of the different areas without depending on one poor doctor having to be a specialist in every different arena. I hope this was what you meant in your question. If not, let us know 🙂

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  • By taralane

    I’m just checking back in to say that since I last posted, things have gone from barely tolerable to intolerable to living on a very limited diet and trying to put things back in one at a time with most things failing. I am on a white rice, chicken broth, fresh apples, bananas, white bread and tea if I want it diet. Low salt or as little as I need for taste. I don’t salt food anyway, so this is not much of a problem. The first weekend of this, I lasted for 2 days and then cheated on everything. My body rebelled, I had intense diarrhea, and I decided I would rather be able to have no cramps and clean clothes, so I went back on the diet, and found it worked very well. I don’t each much sugar, but do have the occasional cookie – only white flour, or put apple and cinnamon on white toast and stick it in the toaster for a treat. I’ve gotten good at making do with what I have. I had some almond butter and that did not work, so that is out of my diet for good. I can only tolerate small ants of goat cheese – maybe once every 3 weeks, so I don’t buy it since it goes bad before I can eat it. I can eat wonton soup from a Chinese restaurant, but have to make sure there are no vegetables in it, and no soy. I can eat macaroons and cinnamon buns, but cupcakes are out – too much sugar. This list goes on and on, much too long to write here. I feel like a little old lady who has no teeth who can only eat mashed food. Oh and potatoes and noodles work. Still trying to find better protein sources. I am losing some weight – who wouldn’t? Have very little energy though, so it is not that much fun.

    Will give you more info as I go along. I’m in a new place and have not hooked up with a Dr. group yet. Still looking. It’s on my list, but not on the top. The migraine specialist is, and I only have a little bit more info to get together to send to that office so I can get in line for an app’t.

    Back to my rice and chicken stock. It is a very cheap way to shop. I spend very little at the store!

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    hangingbyathread – Is there a specific reason why you are on this very limited diet?

    I’m actually really concerned about the small list you have made here. If the diarrhea/constipation is Migraine related, chances are changing your diet isn’t really going to make much of a difference – the problem is Migraine, if that makes sense.

    There are a few things I’m noticing here that would be super valuable to mention to your headache specialist – when you finally get to visit with him/her…

    Triggers: The foods you have listed here are, with few exceptions, on the “foods to avoid” list of most doctors who treat Migraine because they are frequent triggers. They may sit well in your tummy, but if they’re triggering Migraine, and your gastric issues are Migraine related, it’s not probably going to be very helpful. It’s a vicious circle.

    Unbalanced diet: A diet this heavy on starches and devoid of fiber which is necessary to keep the digestive system functioning, not to mention healthy, is of great concern. It doesn’t take long at all for vitamin and mineral deficiencies to creep up and even begin to act as independent Migraine triggers all by themselves. The lack of protein, as you already are aware, could be an integral part of your situation as well.

    Low salt: While ingesting too much salt may be a trigger for you (I know it is for me), it’s wise to understand that most processed foods that declare themselves “low salt” actually make up for the lack of salt by adding other more destructive things, especially MSG and sugars which can wreak havoc for Migraineurs. Additionally, many people get their daily iodine from salt. Where most people get much more than they need, those on restricted salt diets often find themselves in a state of deficiency which can cause thyroid dysfunction. This can also be not only a powerful Migraine trigger, but lead to New Daily Persistent Headache or even chronic Migraine.

    What I would love to see you talking to your doctor about: Eliminating trigger foods that frequently cause a problem in Migraineurs. Adding sources of whole grains, unprocessed and homemade foods including protein and veggies (you’ll probably have to think outside the box on this one). Eating something very frequently (5-7 times daily) to aid in gut motility and minimize blood sugar fluctuations. Top it all off with lots of plain water by drinking it throughout the day. Going on an elimination diet, taking it very, very slowly to give your body a chance to heal, might be very revealing if done under your specialist’s guidance.

    Have you had any testing done for Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, food intolerances or allergies? This might also be worth your while to investigate very thoroughly.

    Remember, you didn’t get this way overnight, and it will take you lots of time to get better, but maybe you can use some of these ideas to at least give yourself a jump start under your doctor’s watchful eye.

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  • By taralane

    Hi Ellen – Sorry it took me so long to re-post to you. I went on a “binge” one day last week, and my body did not react well. Not only did I get a migraine, but I had a real bout of diarrhea and was wearing pads with my underwear and could not leave the house for more than half an hour! It was a mess. After a day of rice and broth I was pretty cleared up, and after 2 days, both my head and G’i system were back to normal. Honestly I am afraid to eat.

    All this started, really when I was diagnosed with hemicrania continua around 1994. I started on 25mg but that did nothing for the really horrific migraines I was having then about one every 3 weeks. So my then doc. (migraine specialist) kept upping the dose until I was at 300mg (double the normal dose) along with 2mg of Klonipin and 400mg of Wellbutrin for depression, and 200 mg of cytotec (to which I am now completely allergic). I stayed on those meds, and moved west to a new migraine specialist, who did not change anything, for about 10 years. As time went by, there was no change in the migraines, but there was a change in my eating habits. I could not eat grains, or vegetables because I would get violent diarrhea, and finally ended up on a diet of cottage cheese and yogurt. Topomax was added to my regiment try and lessen the frequency of the migraines, and I started seeing a psychiatrist for other comorbid issues. By then losing weight at a very fast pace. I left that migraine specialist, not on very good terms, and found another one who tried all sorts of other meds – mostly triptans, which did not work well, or at all, so I asked for a referral to a pain clinic, where I met the doc whom I am still working. She and my psych. are the ones who are referring me to the new migraine specialist that they both know – 1 having trained under him, and the other is at his hospital and just knows him because they have worked together on a few things. After the 10 years of rotting out of my stomach, it took at least 5 years to slowly get my stomach back to eating vegetables, beans, or other grains, which I did slowly, and went back to my vegetarian lifestyle.

    Then, about a year ago ago, I noticed that certain foods became triggers for migraines. I had just stopped taking morphine daily (prescribed by my pain doc) because it was no longer working and I had gotten to the MOH stage with it for acute migraine use, and although I had had about 1 year of relatively pain-free days with migraines once per week and not 4x per week, I had to stop. That was miserable going & I don’t want to do that again.

    After I was done with that, I had to get off caffeine because that was causing migraines. It seemed like my body had become so super sensitive to everything that whatever I was injecting was giving me a migraine. After caffeine, went chocolate. Then I had a break. I was drinking a lot of skim milk and yogurt because they were so soothing, but by the end of the summer, they starting causing migraines, and I had to stop both of them. So I went on to goats milk. That held for a little while – a month maybe, but no more, and now I cannot anything “goat” without triggering a migraine. The the violent diarrhea would start whenever I ate something that upset my GI tract, and the migraine would follow.

    I became afraid to eat. I am 5’10” tall, and except when I was on the topomax the first time, in my entire life, appetite has never been a problem for me. I called my psych, because my pain doc was away, I had moved north and had no internist. I had had continuous diarrhea for about 3 weeks, and the migraines I thought would never end. They were not so severe pain-wise, but were enough to keep me from doing much, and never stopped. He put me on the apples, rice, banana, white bread and chicken broth diet. In two days the diarrhea stopped, I was sleeping, and although boring, I have been able to add things – like chicken breasts, in one at a time , to see what will work and what won’t. Apricots give me migraines. So do oranges, and they give me diarrhea too. So on I go. I have had almond butter and that is OK, but not more than 1x a week. I purchased a bag of almonds but have not tried them yet. I’ll try some other whole grains, but again will try everything once, and slowly to see what works, and what doesn’t. Noodles seem to be OK. My tendency, when I like something, is to eat in ad nauseam. I cannot do that anymore, it seems, so I am being very careful, and taking notes. Better than being so sick.

    As I said in the beginning I am just coming out of a very bad 3 weeks of continual migraine, and more storms are expected tomorrow which is a huge trigger for me. I hope I can get out and do a few errands and I don’t get hit quite so badly this next round.

    Teri, I wrote down about 6 medications that I have not tried from one of your articles to give to my pain doc, since I am out of medicines, and don’t want to use morphine or Stadol unless I have to. I will keep you both informed on my progress. I feel like a lifetime of being on drugs for migraines, has let my insides a mess, although I am probably pretty strong to have endured all this and still be standing with a smile on my face.

    A friend just sent me a You Tube Video of Whitney Houston – and I am not her biggest fan except for a few things – of a song I had never heard called “One day at a Time”. It is just how I am feeling right now and worth looking up.

    Thanks for listening.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    hangingbyathread – I don’t see here that you have been tested and treated for allergies or food sensitivities (two different things). What about celiac testing (while you are eating grains) or looking at Crohn’s? Have you had this done? I’m not sure at this point that your diarrhea is necessarily Migraine related. It will be interesting to see what your new doctor tells you about it.

    I have heard of people having issues like this. They tried something called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and are doing well. Here is a link to it: http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/ The writer of the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” is Elaine Gottschall. The website hasn’t been updated because she died several years ago, however there are some still running it to keep the information available. There are links within the site to other more current sites, however they all use her “legal” “Illegal” list you will find there.

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  • By taralane

    I forgot to add in my last post that I have never been tested for Celiac or Chron’s, and as soon as I find an internist or Nutritionist I will get whoever does that to test me for all that. I am on medicare and the new list this year of what they will and won’t cover seems to be very limited, so I am looking around for a new part D provider now.

    Also, I had my pain doc write a scrip for midrin to a compounding pharmacist in town, who just orders the stuff from Macoven, and I now have a whole bottle of the stuff, and it is working quite well. I don’t know if it is contributing to the diarrhea, because that is back, and should not be, but I am so glad to have the Midrin take care of some of the low level Migraines I am hopping with delight!

    My insurance would not cover it however and it cost a whopping $256.84 which I cannot pay every month, so I have to look around for other sources.

    I will look up Elaine Gottschall’s Book on Amazon and check the website. At the moment I am at a standstill and cannot stay on this limited diet forever. Thanks for the info.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    garfieldrules – It is important to understand that IBS is another disorder, and although Migraine can cause symptoms that mimic IBS, the two are not the same.

    IBS requires treatment that is specific to IBS, where symptoms that mimic IBS typically go away when Migraines are treated appropriately.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi hangingbyathread.

    I was reading over your discussion and see you’ve been through quite a journey.

    You mentioned you were diagnosed with hemicrania continua, were you ever given indomethacin to treat it? Even though there is no test to diagnose migraine, hemicrania continua is completely responsive to indomethicin. Just a thought.

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  • By Becky

    I have the diarrhea when I have a bad migraine. I realized because it seemed everytime I was going to the doc for a shot or the er I had diarrhea. Other than that I never have it. It seems to go hand and hand w/the migraine but only a BAD migraine.
    Becky

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