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50 Years & Older Living With Migraine

Migraines and CPAP Machines

  • By Shanei

    My new doctor suspected that my chronic migraines were triggered by sleep apnea. I was sent to the sleep clinic and found to have sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP machine. Weirdly (or maybe not?) the machine itself seems to be triggering migraines. At first it was the mask, which tightly wrapped around the top of my head. I have now switched masks, but it seems to be the forced air through my sinuses that is triggering the migraines. Has anyone else experienced this?

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  • By Allyson.Ellis Moderator

    Shanei, thank you for reaching out. You are not alone struggling with the mask and adjusting to a CPAP machine with migraine. I thought this article might be of interest to you:
    https://migraine.com/blog/adventures-behind-the-mask/
    Additionally, this topic was discussed on the forum and I thought you might appreciate reading the discussion:
    https://migraine.com/topic/migraine-and-cpap-headaches/
    I would encourage you to reach out to your doctor(s) if you haven’t already and discuss your symptoms and see what recommendations s/he may have. Please check back and let us know how you are managing. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

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  • By Esme

    Hi Shanei, I was interested by your post since I too am on CPAP and my migraines went from episodic to chronic right around the time I started PAP therapy.

    I had a sleep test because I was having “hypnic” headaches at night (headaches that wake you up from sleep but aren’t migraines). I tested in the “moderate” range for nightly obstructive events, which would not typically trigger a prescription for CPAP, but at one point during the test my oxygen saturation level dropped below 80% which the sleep medicine doc felt it could cause hypnic headaches.

    I adjusted well to CPAP and have been on it 2 years. Right around the time I started it, my hypnic headaches improved, but I started having more frequent daytime headaches and this got worse and eventually developed into chronic migraine. (I’ve had episodic migraine since about 2000, with some long remission periods which I could live with. I was never chronic until starting CPAP. )

    I’ve learned a bit about the physiological causes of migraine and can’t see how CPAP could trigger them, but the timing is suspicious. I wonder how many others are affected and wish someone would study this. A decision to go off of CPAP to control migraines could have some serious unintended consequences, so I’m not there yet. Just wish there was more info out there.

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