What’s Your Secret: Strange Symptoms and Side Effects

Migraine can cause a wide array of odd neurological symptoms related to the condition and side effects from medications. Rarely do migraines impact two people in the exact same way. Because it is a neurological condition, the symptoms can vary widely in nature. Additionally, there are so many different types of medications for migraine – each carry with them their own unique side effects. In this What’s Your Secret Video, we share some known symptoms and side effects.

 

Sharing your symptoms and side effects

As with all What’s Your Secret Videos, we invite you to participate! Please share your symptoms and side effects in the comment section below. Doing so will help to connect us and remind us we are not alone in navigating the challenges of this disease.

If you have an idea for a future What’s Your Secret Video, please put it in the comment section below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (21)
  • tmiller093
    5 months ago

    Right before a migraine I get very hungry. I usually crave everything I shouldn’t eat (sweets, french fries, chips, etc.) I also have a vein that runs vertically down my forehead that bulges out and becomes a telltale sign to anyone who looks at me.

    I’m currently taking trokendi XR and since I’ve been on that (a little over a year) I have a panic attack right before a really bad migraine.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    5 months ago

    Fascinating visual showing of your migraine onset. Do others ever notify you of your migraine before you realize it’s coming on because they see that vein before you are aware it’s there? Food cravings are a fairly common prodrome of migraine (https://migraine.com/?s=food+craving)- and anxiety is a well documented migraine comorbidity: https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-and-anxiety-a-multi-faceted-relationship/. You are not alone! So glad you chimed in and that you are a part of our community. Please stay in touch.

  • Sonya
    6 months ago

    When a migraine starts to come on, it’s like I’m in a tunnel of grey fog. For me, the room actually gets darker. That’s my signal to take some thing now. One strange symptom is “the hunger”; I get insatiably hungry. I have to eat starchy carbs until I’m too full to eat anymore before it will go away. This is really frustrating as it’s impossible to lose weight…

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    That’s an interesting one, Sonya. A craving-carbs prodrome. I believe it. Migraine is a comprehensive and complex neurological disease that can impact our bodies in so many ways. Thanks for sharing!

  • marycr8on
    6 months ago

    My strangest side effect is my eyelids swell. You can see when I have a migraine and even how bad it is by how swollen my eyes are. It starts and is usually only my left eye but as the migraine gets worse, it goes to the right one, too. I get hyper-sensitive to odors too. In the past year or so, I’ve had inner ear itching but until now, I never associated it with migraine before seeing that other people have that too.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi Mary! Lots of people mention changes in the eyes/eyelids. My roommate at an in-patient migraine clinic would look as if she had been beaten each time a migraine attack would come on. Her eyes would become swollen and black and blue. Amazing what the body can do. The inner ear itching thing is one I’ve just recently begun to hear about.

    Thanks for sharing as always and stay in touch!

  • mariasma
    6 months ago

    On topamax I would get the STRANGEST side effects. The craziest was what I’ve called “Alice in wonderland” syndrome. I would lie down in bed trying to fall asleep and I would get the sensation that the room was shrinking or that my body was growing larger and larger. It could just be my head or my legs getting the sensation or everywhere. This would happen every night. I would also feel like someone was violently rocking me back and forth (like a baby) side to side and the room would feel like it was spinning. I’m on Keppra now and ironically it has the opposite effect. I feel vertigo when I FORGET to take a dose. Who knows?

    Ive also experienced what is called phantosmia or smelling something that isn’t there. I’ve smelled vomit, sweaty feet, burnt toast, and more. On a separate note, I’m getting used to my sense of smell (real smells) being SO super strong! The smell of most lotions/ foods will trigger an attack immediately. It’s super hard to confront co workers about it. And I’m sure they’re annoyed too. (I’m thinking I might just steal her coconut lotion and THROW IT AWAY) and inconspicuously replace it with a scent I can bare. Hehe.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Wow! That sounds like a terrifying series of side effects from Topamax. Did you continue to take it for some time? My understanding is that if you stay on it, the side effects sometimes subside.

    The sensation of smells intensifying is a migraine symptom, I believe, rather than a medication side-effect. I’ve heard others talk about stealing (or purposefully misplacing) the scented lotions of coworkers before! Too funny — but it really can be awful (and not at all funny) to be stuck smelling something that triggers a migraine attack day after day. Perhaps gifting her with a light-scented lotion for her birthday or some other such occasion would do the trick?

    Thanks for sharing and good luck with that part of things! Let us know if you find a solution as you’re certainly not alone in this.

  • deja3973
    6 months ago

    My weird side effect is sometimes I get a metal taste in my mouth a few days before i get a migraine. I just figured that one out a few months ago. Also, my ears itch inside only on the right side which is also the side i get migraines. I get super sleepy sometimes and then when i wake up it’s there. The worst is my sense of smell though. I smell EVERYTHING!!! once at work a coworker down the hall had a banana in their waste basket and i walked down the hall until i found it and they were nice enough to go throw it away in the kitchen. Sometimes my vision gets blurry and I have to put on some reading glasses.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    So glad for your comment! You are the third person to mention itchy inner ears! Fascinating to hear the side aligns with the side on which your head pain appears. The super strong sense of smell is also a theme here- again- I wish we could find a way to use it as a superpower (maybe someday we’ll need to save the world from rotten bananas!) https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-superheroes/

    The metal taste thing is something I’ve heard as related to a side effect of Topamax, not as a precursor to an attack.

    I think I need to pay closer attention to the blurry eyes thing. I’m pretty sure this shows up for me as well.

    Thanks again for ringing in. Glad you’re a part of our community.

  • mariasma
    6 months ago

    I also get the ear itching thing pretty frequently. I’ll have to pay attention and see which side the migraine occurs on next time it happens. I also get the blurry vision and strong sense of smell.

  • twi7ch13
    6 months ago

    Often before or during a migraine I will experience super human sense of smell. I can smell the scent left on someones clothing from laundry soap or smoke. I’ve even been able to smell the chlorine in the tap water which I normally didn’t notice as if I was in a public pool. It can alert me that a headache is coming with or without an aura. Taking only Excedrin early enough keeps me at least partially functioning. Without the warning signs the pain has the chance to get so much worse. Triptans have not worked for me, they’ve actually taken things to new levels of high pain. The one and only time I had a second blind aura spell was after taking a triptan.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Yes! I’ve thought of just this very thing! Perhaps we are superheroes underneath it all with our superhuman senses of smell and more: https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-superheroes/.

    I have the same issues with triptans increasing pain AND being able to smell chlorine in tap water.

    Thanks for your share!

  • vvvoom
    6 months ago

    1. Lately the night before a migraine, I have insomnia. Can’t get to sleep. Often next day a migraine hits.
    2. Sometimes before a migraine I feel emotional, just feel like crying. (not hormonal)
    3. Take Relpax for onset of migraine. My nose gets ice cold, I yawn like crazy, sometimes feel like crying (but I’m not sad). Relpax makes me feel slow, a little dumb, sleepy. If I take before bed, then I wake at 2am and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes it makes me irritable too, but maybe I’m just tired of migraines!
    4. None of the preventive meds worked for me.
    5. Just did botox for the first time yesterday. Hoping this will help. 15 migraines a month is too much.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Interesting to hear about the various ways that migraine, and the related medications are impacting your sleep hygiene. You are the second person to mention crying- fascinating! Yawning is definitely one I’ve now heard of repeatedly.

    How is the Botox is working for you?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • texaseve
    6 months ago

    Side effects of medications are what I call brain shocks….. electrical impulses going through my head and “down the rabbit hole” disorientation. I think this is mostly the side effect of antidepressants. I also get numbness in my fingers, ringing ears, and headaches from some meds wearing off.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Yes! Such a good point. We could do an entire article dedicated specifically and solely to the strange side effects of medications. Great descriptors! Thanks for sharing.

  • ParacetamolAppreciationSociety
    6 months ago

    I get brain fog, memory loss, trouble articulating and finding words too. The worst though is the hysterical crying during an aura attack. It’s always at work, and so humiliating! I’m so happy I found this site though, it’s made me feel less alone. I just wish those closest to me understood.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    We are so glad you found us, too! Interesting to hear about the crying side effect during aura. One of our contributors, @lisabenson, also has uncontrollable crying but not aura: https://migraine.com/blog/30-things-lisa/.

    You are definitely not alone in having migraine (or related brain fog, memory loss, and aphasia).

    It is so hard when our friends and loved ones don’t understand what we’re up against. I have found some success in sharing my favorite articles from migraine.com with my network as a way to help raise their awareness about the disease. Doing so can increase the compassion they offer as they more fully comprehend what migraine is all about. I even wonder if you could send some articles around to your workplace to help your coworkers understand that migraine is a complex neurological disease, rather than just a headache. Perhaps they would then appreciate the crying as a neurological side effect of the disease so you wouldn’t feel humiliation for something that isn’t your fault. Just a thought.

    We are here for you and are so glad you’re a part of our community! Stay in touch.

  • Cbowman
    6 months ago

    Symptoms caused by motion. Any type of exercise involving movement, treadmill, biking, walking fast paced, rowing and long car rides almost always triggers a migraine.
    Side effects include neck pain, stiff neck, throbbing head on one side, vomiting but not every time.
    I’m sure I have other triggers as I’ve had migraines my whole life but the above cause 90% of them fir me now.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    This is interesting, indeed. I’m assuming you’ve discussed this trend with your migraine specialist. It’s interesting that your triggers are all (or mostly) motion-related.

    You might be interested in reading this piece on Migraine Vertigo that discusses Vestibular Migraine: https://migraine.com/migraine-symptoms/vertigo/. Perhaps issues related to your inner ear have become one of the drivers for your migraine attacks.

    Also, have you heard of the new migraine treatment (recently FDA-approved) called Gammacore? https://migraine.com/?s=Gammacore+ It has helped me tremendously in addressing nausea and vomiting – there’s a connection it taps into between the gut and head (among other organs) using the vagus nerve as the route. Perhaps another thing worth discussing with your migraine specialist after you do some research.

    Thanks for sharing, stay in touch, and if you learn anything more, let us know.

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