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Diarrhea concurrent with migraine?

  • By JanetH

    For a long time now, when I get a migraine, I have loose stools or diarrhea, and stomach cramps. I’ve had 2 migraines in the past week that followed this pattern. Very early yesterday morning before the alarm went off, I was aware when I was half asleep that my head hurt. I got ready for work, and before I left the house, had an episode with loose stools, and took 1 immodium tablet. I went to work, and within an hour, was in the bathroom with diarrhea and stomach cramps, so I took another immodium. This is not unusual, and pretty much what occurred a week ago. For full disclosure, I will say in my family, there is a tendency toward IBS symptoms, although to my knowledge, no one has ever been officially diagnosed with it.

    I asked my neurologist if he would prescribe anything as a preventative, since of course, immodium is something you take after the loose stools start, The answer was no, I should consult my GP or gastro, if I have one. He and I have discussed before the lower tract symptoms, and I’ve gotten the impression that he doesn’t believe that can be part of a migraine like nausea and vomiting. I have seen a gastro, but she insists on getting a scope before she will prescribe any meds. I’m not excited to do that for the possibility of getting a drug to help, and I’m not that desperate yet. (I had a negative Colo-guard 2 years ago, so I really don’t need a scope for that, either.) I did have to take half a day off work last week. Yesterday, the immodium helped, and although I didn’t feel the hottest, I was able to make it through the work day, since it was a relatively quiet day.

    If anyone has any suggestions besides of course consulting with my GP, please feel free to weigh in. I do like my neurologist. There are 2 headache specialists in my area, and IMHO, he is the better of the two. Which of course doesn’t make him perfect.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi JanetH,

    Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing your story. I’m sorry things are difficult right now.

    YES! The symptoms you describe can be part of a migraine attack. In fact I know many patients who experience the same thing. We have information in these articles that may help; https://migraine.com/migraine-symptoms/diarrhea-and-constipation/ and https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-gastroparesis-nausea-vomiting-and-diarrhea/ and https://migraine.com/blog/ibs-of-the-bowels/.

    Also, IBS (I’m not suggesting you have IBS, rather sharing information) and migraine disease can be comorbid conditions. This means they can occur at the same time but are not caused by one another.

    If you are having more than four severe migraine attacks a month it’s time to discuss migraine prevention with your doctor. Hopefully if you can avoid a migraine attack, you may be able to avoid the IBS symptoms. Does that make sense?Do you happen to know any of your migraine attack triggers? If we can identify them, we may be able to reduce our migraine attack frequency and severity. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a migraine diary and here is a link on how to do that;
    https://migraine.com/blog/keeping-migraine-diary-basics/.

    We also have a sister site you may be interested in checking out here; https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/.

    Keep me posted,
    Nancy

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