National Migraine Centre
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Anyone noticed a link between having a virus and getting a migraine? Also, do you haven any advice for acute management of migraine please?

Hello,

This is the first time that I have written on a migraine site, although I have been suffering from these headaches for much of my life (I am now 53). I was wondering whether anyone else has noticed a link between picking up viruses and getting a migraine? I have two school aged children who are always sick from bugs at school and I am aware that every time they come down with a bug, I come down with a migraine. The latest attack was this weekend where I first had a sore throat caught from one of them last week which then turned into a full blown migraine by Friday and Saturday (on Saturday night, it had reduced me to tears as I can't take anything for these headaches and vomiting now and I feel so alone with the pain). I feel as though I've tried everything to help myself with headache prevention over the years e.g. diet (I followed the Heal your Headache diet for years), triptans (that now make it much worse), anti- nausea medication (that also can make the vomiting worse, paradoxically), preventative medication such as nortriptaline (don't know the spelling!), propanolol, Bowen therapy, homeopathy, and now extensive acupuncture (which I love, but it does not help prevent the headaches). My GP has no more ideas. The most she can come up with is referring me to the London Migraine Clinic. I am not keen on this option as another school mother went there and found that they did not help her (it was a long way to go for little help). I currently find some comfort in Breathworks (Mindfulness for pain) but of course, it doesn't prevent the headaches from occurring in the first place. From reading other posts, I am not in as bad a situation as many, because I can go a few weeks without a headache. But when they come, I am besieged by pain and vomiting (and am thin to start with due to hyperthyroidism and so do not want to lose more weight). I have suffered from these episodes now for so long, that my spirits are low and my ability to pick myself up after an attack is diminishing. I will be seeing my GP again this week and wondered whether anyone out there could please advise something else that I might be able to discuss with her. So, in sum, I am asking whether anyone has noticed the link between headache and virus; what you do about it; and what you do, overall, to help with acute migraine. Sorry for going on at such length! I am very thankful for your support- it helps just knowing that others are out there too who are going through similar experiences.

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So very difficult. Completely understand the low spirits. As yet another migraine begins I feel myself descending into hell.

For acute attacks the only thing that helps me (but doesn't cure/stop it) is pink migraleve which is anti nausea, and packing my neck/head with icepacks - I prop myself up with pillows so I'm half lying down. This relies on being able to stop whatever you're doing and be at home, obviously.

For prevention I went gluten free which cut down the number of migraines and the nausea/vomiting. I've heard stopping gluten can also help with auto immune thyroid disorder. It isn't easy to do though.

I had a trial of a neuro stimulator, Gamma Core, through a specialist and it helped with the severity and the neuro symptoms, but stopped working at a certain point. Some people use the Cephaly device which you have to buy yourself, but I believe you can get some of the money back if it doesn't work within a month or so.

Re. viruses I found when I had proper flu I had the worst headache of my life, but if it's an ordinary cold I don't tend to get migraine and feel better in that respect. I also had fewer migraines when I had a frozen shoulder - it was as if the pain had moved location.

B vitamins, especially B12 can help. Also legal medicinal CBD oil (expensive).

Magnesium and B2 are recommended by some specialists.

You are not alone!

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Hi Frodo,

Thanks so much for these helpful comments. I am gluten free as well (have been for a number of years) and perhaps that does help. I had expensive allergy testing done last year that says I'm allergic to hemp and so am not certain about the CBD oil (although I purchased some last week as had not checked my allergy list first!). I'll look into trying the B vitamins again (have used them in the past). Sometimes we migraine sufferers try so many things, it's hard to keep track of what helps and what doesn't! I appreciate all of your suggestions. Thanks so much again.

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Hi, I get severe migraines when I have a cold and or flu, or stomach upset. With those migraines, I am unable to function. Like you I have tried many remedies over the years, sometimes they work for a period of times, but then they stop. Now at 63 year of age, I have to see another neurologist who is a migraine specialist to figure out what to do next.

You are not alone.

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Thank you for this response. It makes me feel so glad to know that others understand this awful condition and what is like. I wish that I had a more Zen like attitude to it all and could just accept it. But alas, not quite yet! Good luck to you as well.

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Hi, I find that if I get a cold or the flu or anything that will affect my sinuses then I will get a migraine.

I'm only 22 but have had migraines for 12 years and had chronic for 3 years. Like you I have tried pretty much everything the doctor can give me. I'm also seeing a neurologist at my local hospital (ninewells) which seemed to be going well but really isn't now.

Acupuncture is so good isn't it? Doesn't really do much for my migraines but you leave feeling good after!!

Do you not have a hospital that is closer to you that has a neurology department? I'm not sure where you are in the UK but there has to be some place closer than London (unless you live there!!)

Hope you find something that helps you soon!!

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Thanks so much for your response. It's interesting that you get migraines when your sinuses are affected and perhaps this is what I'm experiencing too. I could get a neurology referral but the GP thinks that this won't really throw much new light on the situation given all that I've tried. The next step would be to try Topiramate but I'm reluctant to do this as the side effects are supposed to be brutal. I hope that your neurologist comes up with better answers for you and that you will get the help that you need. I will keep on looking for answers as there has got to be something out there that will help. Have just bought a book called "Fighting the Migraine Epidemic" that looks interesting. Will keep looking for something!

All the best to you too!

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Yeah, my dr suggested that I have a problem with my sinuses but never followed up on it. Ahh okay. I'm on topiramate at the moment, this is the second time I'm on it, the first I had about 25 side effects but this time I gradually built up the amount I was taking very slowly and only have 4 minor side effects! Thank you, I hope you find something that works. Ohh I think I might go and buy that.

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Hello,

So sorry that you're suffering, I really do understand. We're trained to see GPs as experts so if they have no more ideas it feels like the end of the line, I've had that experience and it felt like being ejected from the system - we can't help, good luck on your own! It's horrible. Just to check, have you tried any other preventatives? When I tried one that didn't work for me I thought that was it preventatives weren't for me, but there are many different preventatives out there and just because one didn't work doesn't mean another won't. I say that in the hope it gives you options, (when I was told there are many my first reaction was despair because it might take a long time to find one for you!) On the Migraine Action website you can also pay a small fee to speak to a headache nurse who specialises in migraine, perhaps that could be an option before committing to the migraine centre? It's so hard because on the other hand migraine sufferers are great to listen to as we get a sense of what really works, and on the other hand migraines are incredibly individual; if we took everyones advice on what didn't help we might be missing something that does help for us.

One final note: I'm currently trying hypnotherapy to help with my migraines and one thing I've stressed is I want to build resilience for when I do have an attack. I get so emotional when I have an attack, from crushing fear when it starts and deep sadness and disappointment that it's happening when I try so hard to prevent them. I'm only 2 sessions in so I can't speak yet to the efficacy, but like you I get so crushed when I have an attack it feels like it reverses all my progress. I've also heard EFT can be helpful for that, but yes I think a lot of people don't understand how upsetting it can be.

Oh and I had my worst cluster ever recently and it started when I had a really bad head cold so you may be on to something there! Good luck with the GP and big hugs to you

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Hello, I am crying from the depth of thankfulness I have for your kind-hearted response. I have been so profoundly touched by the kindness I have received from everyone on this site. I really can't express this accurately enough. Thank you from my heart. I think that hypnotherapy sounds like a brilliant idea! What you described (about getting emotional when another headache starts) is EXACTLY what I experience when the migraine begins (plus all of the fear of who will look after the children; collect them from school; walk the dog etc. etc.). Sometimes when we have these headaches, we forget that others out there are experiencing them too. You described my feelings so perfectly. I do hope that the hypnotherapy gives you the help that you are looking for. I agree that each of us is unique and what might help one person, will not necessarily help another. I will keep on trying to find something, but even as I write this, I'm not sure what else there is. However, life often surprises us! Just when we think that there is nothing left, some miracle happens and we find just what we need. At least, I believe that!!

With very best wishes for your well being. Thank you once again.

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You're very welcome - it is an emotional disease, I just began taking amitryptaline as a preventative and had an attack one night in - I know that it can take a few weeks for preventatives to work but my immediate response was oh great it won't work.. It is difficult to stay logical when one of the symptoms of migraine can be depressed mood. I wish you all the luck in whatever comes next, and remember you're not failing if you get upset and overwhelmed. I hope you have people you can reach out to for support, because you deserve it

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