Migraines: Lupus or Not
Migraines and Me
I am a migraine sufferer, though I've been much better for the last two years or so. I've suffered from migraines for as long as I could remember. Those headaches where I just sleep all day or lay in the dark all day because the light hurt your eyes so much. I couldn't eat anything made me want to throw up and sometimes I even got the runs. For those who know what I'm talking about you know that its a tortured existence and really if they're bad enough OTCs offer no relief.
One day a could of years ago I went to my dialysis treatment as always, feeling a bit off but nothing to really talk about. As I got close to the end of my treatment I got this pain and pressure behind my right eye, I couldn't help but start to cry after about 15 minutes. The pain was so intense, I closed my eyes and didn't open them even when I heard the nurse speaking to me. They were alarmed because usually I'm a quiet patient so they quickly called the emergency service to pick me up and take me to the ER.
In the ER I waited, and waited, and waited (don't forget in pain) for hours until finally they offered Morphine or Reglan (a drug used for nausea that has been used for the treatment of migraines). I chose the latter, Reglan and waited some more for a Neurologist.
Right about the time I was about to just sign myself out, because a Neurologist still had not arrived, a Neurology resident showed up and did a quick examination of me and referred my to a Neurologist that I could see so that I can get the migraines under control. And that's what I did.
Migraines and Lupus
So there is a theory regarding headaches. Some scientists believe that there is such a thing as Lupus headaches. These headaches are said to be similar to migraines however, there is not sufficient evidance supporting this theory since headaches (all types) are prevalent in thepopulation. So no, migraines have not been connected to Lupus; not yet anyway. But I will tell you what migraines are.
There are different types of headaches: Tension, Sinus, Cluster, and Migraines. Migraines can cause painful pounding and pressure behind the eyes: the sufferer is robbed of a good quality of life. They can cause, as I said before, nausea, vomitting and light sensitivity. For people that get them seldomly over the counter drugs can be an easy fix. However, in the case of chronic sufferers the aid of a neurologist is usually advised.
What happens in the case of Chronic sufferers ( I was getting them 2-3 times a week) is kind of like a cycle because the more headaches you get, the more the serotonine in the brain is depleted and this causes more headaches. Serotonin is a hormone found in the pineal gland, digestive tract, the nervous system and platelets; It is a neurotransmitter and is responsible for transmitting nerve impulses across space between nerve cells and neurons. Serotonin has been found to be vital in the regulation of learning, mood, sleep and constriction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction). Scientists and Experts do believe that this hormone may play a significant role in anxiety, migraine, appetite and vomiting.There is also slight inflammation that occurs in the brain when migraines become too frequent so if you're getting them even once a week reach out to your doctor.
The usual treatment for chronic migraine sufferers is this: Your neurologist will sit you down and tell you, "you couldn't get pregnant for a your while on the medication he/she was about to prescribe". After you agree he/she will prescribe a drug call Topamax. Topamax has been used worldwide since 1995 for the prevention and reduction of frequency of migraines. This drug was actually being studied for another medical condition but was found to be effective for migraines in 1994.
The drug is believed to calm the process that leads to a migraine; over-active nerves are calmed causing the reduction in the frequency of migraines. So most neurologist would probably put their patients on the drug for a year as to help regulate the nervous system and then after that year reevaluate their patient.
Some common side effects of Topamax are:
- Numbness and tingling (remember its a drug of the nervous system.
- Change of taste.
- Weight loss.
- Difficulty with Concentration.
- Difficulty with Memory.
- Loss of Appetite.
My case was a bit tricky since I am a dialysis patient. Topamax would be a bit too toxic for my system so my Neurologist had to take a different approach.
He put me on Prednisone for a week, to reduce some of the inflammation and pressure of the brain (from the frequency of migraines). Then he also prescribed Lexapro which most of you know to be a anti-depressant drug. As I told you before frequent migraines deplete the serotonin in our brains and low serotonin levels cause more migraines so I was on the Lexapro to help regulate those levels in my brain for about 1-2 months.
It worked!! I was blessed with another great doctor who used what he knew and treated my condition without causing further harm. Today I probably get a migraine once or twice a month and they are never as bad as that one that forced me into the ER.