LIVING WITH CHRONIC MIGRAINE
It can be done!
I had my first migraine sometime in my teens. I've had headaches and migraines intermittently since then. In the early 2000s, I was having episodic migraines severe enough to require preventive medication. Several years later I was diagnosed with chronic migraine.
In 2005, I had several hospitalizations for severe migraines. By the spring of 2006, I was no longer able to continue working as a family physician. Since then, I have been disabled and spent my time homeschooling my children, knitting, and blogging. In January of 2018, I started a ketogenic diet which has helped to calm my chronic migraine more than anything else.
This page is about Chronic Migraine in general and what is helping me specifically. I'm happy to answer any questions you have!
All About Chronic Migraine
IS CHRONIC MIGRAINE JUST LOTS OF HEADACHES?
Not exactly. The International Headache Society defines chronic migraine as more than fifteen headache days per month over a three month period of which more eight are migrainous (pounding, usually with nausea), in the absence of medication overuse. Chronic migraine is a diagnosis that needs to be made by a physician.
DO YOU HAVE HEADACHES ALL THE TIME?
I have headache almost every day. Now that I'm on a ketogenic diet, my headaches are far less intense, but they still occur pretty much every day.
ARE YOU ABLE TO WORK?
No. I can't hold a job outside the home. About 20% of those with chronic migraine are disabled and unable to work. In my case, I am generally able to take care of the house and meals on my good days. About two days per week, I am not able to do much of anything.
WHAT IS AN ACUTE MIGRAINE LIKE?
An acute migraine is intense head pain, usually pulsating in nature, quite often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting. A person often finds light and/or sound very distressing. Some people get an aura - lights in their field of vision - before the migraine starts. Others find that they get mood changes, fatigue, or nausea before a migraine. A migraine can last from a couple of hours to a couple of days and is followed by a "hangover" sensation of fatigue.
HOW IS AN ACUTE MIGRAINE TREATED?
Some people find that their migraines respond well to treatment with a NSAID, like ibuprofen. For many people, though, the staple of migraine treatment is a class of medications called triptans, like Imitrex or Frova or Maxalt. These medications can be taken by mouth, nasal spray, or injection. Nausea medications like Phenergan or Compazine may also help with the migraine. If the migraine is severe enough that the person needs medical attention, the current recommendation is first line treatment with Phenergan. Narcotics are a less useful treatment.