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Living with Migraine

Losing words…migraine or something else?

  • By Patricia

    Hi, I have been suffering from migraines since childhood (now I’m 45). lately the frequency of my migraines has increased, but I don’t want to take prevention medicines, so I just take pain medication, massage the head with mint oil, etc.

    What worries me is that lately I have noticed that I am having trouble finding words. Not constantly but it happened several times. For example, I want to say something, and I know the word, but I have the feeling of it being at the tip of the tongue. This doesn’t happen only when I am having a migraine episode. Aldo, I used to ace word games like Boggle, but now I find I m slower at these or that I am not as good s before.

    Should I worry? Could it be a migraine effect or something else, like Alzheimer’s? I haven’t told anyone, don’t ant my dearest ones to worry.

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  • By ZSharon

    I share some of your concerns, especially since Alzheimer’s is in my family. That being said, I have found that the pain of migraine is only one challenge — for me, anyway. Before and after I lose some cognitive function and words escape me.

    I wish I had a definitive answer, but I do wish you the very best in finding an answer from a neurologist or whomever.

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    • By migraine-guy

      I agree with the other responses, especially ZSharon The Prodromal (before) and Postdromal (after the Migraine) can last on average from a few hours to a 1/2 day for me. Some cognitive impairment is common, one of which is “word finding.” I noticed it, and people around me noticed, which I now use to inform mr that I’m Pro or Postdromal.

      Of course during a Migraine word finding is really compromised. I’ve been a the different preventative or prophylactic meds and some caused this problem, and much worse cognitive impairments.

      Sorry you are going throught this

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    Patobl,
    I have this same issue. I was literally in the doctor’s office this week and I couldn’t answer her simple questions. Luckily she could tell I was having a bad Migraine attack. But it’s not fun and hard to manage. When I’m like that I usually have to write things down or else I’ll forget.

    You should definitely mention this to your doctor. If you are interested in taking preventative medications there are a few that may have the potential to improve this issue…ironically one is an Alzheimer’s medication called Namenda. This drug is thought to work on the same proteins that are found in both Migraineurs and Alzheimer’s patients. Research on this may lead to a new class of drugs aimed at stopping Migraines. I was concerned the first time my doc mentioned it, but you’d be taking it for an off-label use and not specifically because you have Alzheimers.
    https://migraine.com/blog/what-is-calcitonin-gene-related-peptide-cgrp/

    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

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  • By Chronic migraineur

    I, too, have had problems losing words for quite some time now. I’m 45, and have had chronic daily migraines for almost ten years now. I feel very stupid at times, bc I can’t come up with even the easiest words too, like “golf course” or “self esteem” (the most recent ones I remember not being able to come up with). I went to see my Dr., and he ordered an MRI, bc I was also having problems with words coming out right too, but the MRI came back normal. They also did an ultrasound of my carotid artery to make sure I was getting enough oxygen to my brain, and that came back normal as well. So, no answers for me. Thanks for the info on Namenda, I’ll be sure to mention it to my Dr. the next time I see him. Sounds like a good idea, as I am paranoid about Alzheimer’s as well. I do take Topamax as a preventive, but that doesn’t seem to be helping much the past few years, so maybe time for a different preventive?

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  • By Lisa Robin Benson Moderator

    Hi 20bfj63,

    It’s funny how we remember the words we forget later on!

    Just wanted to mention, if your preventive doesn’t seem to be helping, it’s definitely a good idea to bring that up with your doctor and see if you might want to try another. Just a word of caution–don’t stop any medication suddenly as that could lead to withdrawal. I always check with my doctor AND my pharmacist about tapering as sometimes the doctor hasn’t given me adequate instructions.

    Also wanted to point out that losing words CAN be a side effect of topomax.Here is an article on topamax side effects: https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/topamax/side-effects/

    Hope this helps,
    Lisa

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  • By Savta45

    Hi. I’m brand new to this site, I’m 62, started getting migraines when I was 56. Now it’s almost every day. The thing I want to respond to here is that, since I started having migraines, I’ve started stuttering! I know what I want to say, I just can’t get the words out! I never had that problem before, ever! I just had to retire early, due to the migraines, but just prior to retiring, one day, when I had to go home early because I had a severe migraine, my supervisor thought I was having a stroke! It’s very scary, but, I’ve checked with my doc (neurologist), & he assures me its all part of the migraine! I am consoled that I’m not having permanent brain damage, (I think!) but, it sure is frustrating, & makes me feel stupid & conspicuous!

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  • By Mrcharly

    Me too 🙁

    I write technical documents for a living – sometimes I can’t think of words when speaking, but I can still type them.
    I used to be articulate (some said “never shuts up”), now I find myself halfway through a sentence and unable to complete it.

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  • By Pomegranate

    I am 26 and get horrific brain fog and inability to say words. I’ve always found writing and typing way easier than speaking out loud, but that intensifies during migraines. My neurologist thought it was the topamax I was on but I still have this symptom off of it and always have.

    My partner seems to randomly get this symptom too or sometimes stutter but I don’t mind it at all because I know what it’s like and find common ground. Funny how pain and difficulty can end up causing understanding and acceptance of other people =)

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    • By Erin Nordaby

      I am like several others here where my verbal skills and mental confusion is affected by my Migraines. So much so my Neurologist has said due to them, I have a mild form of Aphasia. Even my Aura is slurred speech. I can be in the middle of a sentence and just stop for I do not know what comes next. It does not help that I do take Topamax 2x daily and even though I know this affects my mental confusion, my Dr has just upped my dosage.

      Also like others before, I seem to do much better typing and writing when communicating than with actual talking.

      The worst part about this for me is that I feel it makes me look dumb. I am very self conscious about this and honestly do not know what to do about it. I should accept who I am now, but have not gotten to that place yet.

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  • By Savta45

    Oh yeah, forgot to mention. How INCREDIBLY frustrating it is when people get impatient when I can’t speak correctly, & stutter when I’m in a migraine!! I mean, I’m in pain, I’m trying my best to communicate, they obviously just don’t have the time to give me a chance or be supportive & maybe try & help me out when I’m struggling! These people know me, they know I have migraines & that the language/stuttering thing is part of that. What is wrong with these people?!? Not only does this frustrate me & make me feel angry & stupid (and I’m NOT!), but the frustration actually makes the pain (& also, therefore, the stuttering) worse!! I’m actually just avoiding the main individual I’m speaking about now, a family member, for this & many other reasons. She’s clueless & didn’t care anyway.

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    • By Livvy

      Naomisdtr18, & Nicci,
      You don’t know how glad I am go have just read both of your comments about horridly insensitive and mean people. Unfortunately I am around a certain family member right now a lot and he had made himself a bowl of soup while I was sitting on the kitchen floor crying and holding my head. It was severe pain but he made me so angry that I ended up saying umm did you notice I was sitting here crying? He said with a fake “OH! Well, I didn’t know what to do.” So I guess he figured he’d get himself some soup and think it over. More to the point of this thread, I get very groggy after a migraine and it takes awhile to form sentences and he finishes my sentences constantly. I have asked him to stop but he “forgets”. I have to learn to stop letting it make me crazy bcs it has many times made the pain much worse.
      I have thought it was just exhaustion that makes me forget words. If I get a break from pain it seems to get much better and I feel like I can think like my old self. I’ve been listening to audio books lately when too drained to read and I think it somehow helps my mind rest and I can think more clearly.

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  • By Nicci

    <i> These people know me, they know I have migraines & that the language/stuttering thing is part of that. What is wrong with these people?!? </i>

    Naomisdtr18,

    I know how you feel. There is one person in my life who was privvy to my verbal challenges and she’s one of those people who jumps on you if you use the wrong word. She’s extremely, “What you say will make the Universe do it to you.” Or, “That’s mean to say that way,” about something very small. It will just be the word I’m able to spit out — sometimes all I can do is say whatever half-way suitable word will make it out of my mouth because if I don’t spit it out, I’ll lose my train of thought. I feel very stupid when this happens and she only made me feel worse. Picking on every word I said was making me nuts enough even when I’m perfectly articulate. When I was stuggling, I felt like offering her a knuckle sandwich.

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  • By Savta45

    Hey, Nicci!
    I want to tell you, do NOT let other people get to you! You are obviously NOT stupid! In my experience, so many people have NO IDEA what you are going through!
    People are so very often clueless, self-centered, & sometimes just out & out mean! I know what you mean about feeling stupid! But, remember, it’s not YOU! It’s the migraine! To reassure yourself, when you don’t have a migraine, or when it isn’t too bad, do something that uses your brain. Not for anyone else’s knowledge, only yours! Do a crossword puzzle, read something, watch some political show on TV, whatever, anything that you like that you have to pay attention to. Remember, this isn’t for anyone else, only YOU, for your own reassurance & peace of mind! Just a suggestion. I might write a letter to someone, or play a few games of online poker ( no $ involved, I’m not crazy! 😉)
    Best wishes!

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    • By Livvy

      Naomisdtr18,
      Oh my gosh, that is a brilliant idea! To do things privately in my down time to reassure myself. I absolutely love that idea, and honestly I have been somewhat depressed lately and these ideas of yours sound fun and kind of secretly empowering to me. I’m afraid I’ve been around loads of controlling idiots and I really need to have some private “me” time. I am doing this. ♥

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  • By JenWag

    I have had migraines my entire life and I also started losing words when I was in my late 40s. However, that was when I entered peri-menopause. I am now in my fifties and most of my friends are in menopause and many of them are having memory problems even though they don’t get migraines. I think most of it is due to menopause.

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  • By JenWag

    After spending some time today in the Topimax/Topimirate (medicine) message board, I now am starting to think that taking that medicine has a lot to do with my memory problems. Almost everyone in the group discussing it is having memory problems. I have been weening myself off it because I’ve been on it so long it isn’t effective any longer, and I have noticed that my memory problems haven’t been as bad. I’ll see how I am once I’m finally fully weened off.

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  • By gilgomez

    I have forgotten words I no longer even recall!

    You have to keep your sense of humor about this frustrating as it can be. My son can finish my sentences, he grew up with a hemiplegic migraine mom who had TIAs as well. OMG! The poor child hung in there and would get my weird sentences, understand my strange association cause I just sometimes blurt out something seeminly unrelated but he knows what I meant. It has been especially hard at work, the guys looking at me patiently as I search for the word or then just flip to spanish as I ask my self what the work was. The guys I work with watch me with humor and sometimes just crack up. Sadly management sees me as a freak and think I am getting “slow” so they are trying to push me out of my position. That is another story.

    So yes, this losing of words is quite common. Now in my case I notice the more anxious and stressed I am, or if not sleeping well, the more it comes out. My losing of words has not improved or disappeared over the years. It is a constant reminder that we are “special”. 🙂

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  • By DEBGOLD

    If you are taking Topomax this is a very common side effect of Topomax. It can also be a side effect of other medications. It is also a side effect of my M.S. The aphasia is really annoying. I have problems with my M.S because I can see the word, but cannot get to the sound. Frustrates me totally. Names are gone. Product names are gone at work. I often can draw the product, but not the name of the product. I have lost the connections between the two hemispheres of the brain. I take a lot of Topomax (300mg a day) as a preventative which could cause this, but I really believe it is the uncountable lesions in my brain since the more I read the more the words are coming back. It’s like reforming the connections in my brain. Look for a different preventative. Look to a different kind of system for awhile. The cocktails of drugs can really impair thought.

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  • By Ouchie

    I started getting migraines about 3 years ago and more frequent.. In the past 6 months or so I have been having problems with my words as well.. Putting spoken sentences together can be really tough.. Part of my job requires some public speaking either to my piers or operators/sales reps,, I had to do a presentation a few weeks ago on a subject I am comfortable with and I felt like a complete idiot before I was done..

    We are seeing 2 different neurologist currently and I still managed 24 events in October.. As much as that stinks I really hate the way the word thing makes me feel.. Botox in 2 weeks,, love you guys,,, people really have no clue.. The depression alone can be crushing…

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    @ouchie,
    Are you on Topamax? Higher doses can cause this issue. But also having constant Migraines can cause it too. After years on Topamax, I switched to Zonegran and had less of that side effect. Talk to your doctor about it.

    And I hope the Botox makes a difference. Take a look at this article before you get the injections so you know what to expect.

    https://migraine.com/blog/botox-basics/

    Best Wishes!
    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

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  • By Ouchie

    Yes, I am.. Going back to the doc in a couple of days and get him to try something else.. The Toradol seems to be hit or miss as well.. On the second I think it has more to do with the severity.. I will say that the word thing is at its worst right before I get a migraine and during an episode.. Stress and excitement will trigger it… Thank you for your help

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