For years I have complained to my primary care providers that I have frequent earaches, but my ears always look perfect. I tell dentists that a few teeth are extremely sensitive to heat, cold and sweets, though the pain is inexplicably intermittent. I often wonder if I have a torn contact because one eye feels like there’s a grain of sand lodged in it. Yet I can never find an identifiable cause for the pain in my ears, teeth or eyes. At least, I couldn’t until my migraines turned from constant to cyclical. Turns out I only have the aforementioned symptoms when I have a migraine. Of course, when I had a migraine all the time, I had these symptoms all the time. Now that the migraines come and go, so do the other pains.
None of these particular complaints show up on the long list of little-known migraine symptoms, though they’ve come up in my conversations with other migraineurs. The majority of the world equates migraine with headache, but there’s so much more going on in this neurological disorder. If I could trade, I’d keep the pain if it meant I could get rid of the fatigue and fuzzy-headedness. (Not that I have any say in how the migraines behave.)
I wonder what other migraine symptoms have yet to be recognized. What are your unusual migraine symptoms? Do any of them bother you more than the pain part of the migraine?
The migraines that have been visiting the last couple weeks finally gave way to a 40-hour affair that’s tapering off. I’m now in what’s considered migraine hangover (or postdrome). I was reassured when I first learned that this is a normal event at the end of a migraine:
“The postdrome is a constellation of symptoms that persist beyond the resolution of headache. Many of these symptoms appear initially during the prodrome or with the headache phase. Commonly, patients report anorexia [loss of appetite], nausea, muscle tension, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. This phase has been termed the migraine hangover and can last and produce disability up to 1 to 2 days beyond the headache phase. The pathophysiology of the postdrome is unknown, but likely represents a gradual recovery phase from the extreme neurologic disruption that occurs during migraine.” — Clinical and Pathophysiological Anatomy of a Migraine Attack, Medscape
I particularly like the phrase “extreme neurologic disruption.”
The clinical explanation is helpful, but I’ve been trying to describe what it actually feels like to have a migraine hangover. Here’s my attempt to put it into words:
I’m still shrouded by a bad headache. The pounding doesn’t seem to cover as much of my head as it did, but it hasn’t changed location at all. In a sense its like an echo of what it was, but it feels different while feeling the same.
Instead of having trouble thinking, finding words or making decisions, like I do in the rest of a migraine, I’m lightheaded. Not in an unsteady on my feet kind of way, but that my thoughts are so airy and inconsequential they could just float away.
It’s a weak description, but I have no idea how to truly explain how I feel. Can you help me out? How do you feel when you have a migraine hangover?
To read the Medscape article, use one of the user names and passwords from BugMeNot. The World Headache Alliance summarizes a study that found that the “majority of migraineurs experience disabling post-migraine symptoms.”