Coping, Triggers

Air Cycling Through Cooling & Heating Ducts a Migraine Trigger

I’d like you to think I’ve been absent from the blog because I’ve felt so great that I’ve been living it up. Actually, I’ve continued to feel pretty crappy since right before Christmas. There’s always an excuse. In early January was the stomach bug that caused horrendous nausea every time I ate, then triggered an equally bad migraine. Right after I recovered from that, my mom dislocated her shoulder and broke her humerus. Then Hart and I moved into the house…. You get the point. Unfortunately, the migraines continued even after the stress settled. Until Hart and I made a brilliant connection — our AC/heating ducts are making my migraines worse.

We turned off the heat when our roof was patched last week to make sure no chemicals or odors entered the house. I had a good day after the first night with it off, though I need to see a pattern before I jump to conclusions. I forgot to turn the heat back on and the good days began piling up. I’d get pretty tired for a couple hours every afternoon, perhaps because I was doing so much, but few migraines followed (and they were mild if they did). The night we ran the heat, I had a migraine in the night and was headachey and blechy the next day. We turned the heat off again for the next night and voila, I awoke feeling better!

As always, “feeling better” doesn’t mean migraine-free, nor does it mean I’m operating with full energy. Still, I don’t spend much extra time in bed, afternoon naps generally abort oncoming migraines, and the migraines I do have are relatively mild. This all adds up to going out for fun excursions and errands, settling into my new house, and cooking up a storm.

This discovery coincided with getting the results of an energy audit. Not surprisingly, our 1945 house has many gaps in the ducts and the attic has lots of dust and broken-down insulation. The heat runs and pulls all that yuck into the air. Because I’m so sensitive to environmental triggers, Hart and I already budgeted to seal the ducts and use chemical-free products on any household improvements. Soon we will seal the ducts with formaldehyde-, PVC- and VOC-free products, then have them cleaned. I hope, hope, hope that does the trick. I can go without heat, but a Phoenix summer is impossible without air conditioning.

Dirty ducts are a fuzzy sort of trigger. Is whatever is in the air the trigger or does it stir up allergies, which then trigger the migraines? The latter is most logical, but why don’t I have allergy symptoms? As always, I have many more questions than answers. What I’m sure of is that I haven’t had a raging migraine in 10 days. That’s enough of an answer for now.

15 thoughts on “Air Cycling Through Cooling & Heating Ducts a Migraine Trigger”

  1. Hi all,
    I have suffered migraines since I was 16. I am now 24 and they are becoming worse as I get older. I now get them at least 16 days a month. I am on Maxalt which is giving me memory loss but seems to be the only thing that works so far. I work as a prep teacher and it is becoming very hard to go to work with a migraine each day. I know my triggers well but they are unavoidable. Eg bright lights and loud noises. Even when I don’t have a migraine I have to wear sunglasses inside because I am so sensitive to the light now. I have been to physios, dentists, jaw specialists, had my eyes checked, all the scans etc. I have been told by doctors that I am simply just a “migrainey person”. I carry my pills with me everywhere I go! I am going to attempt acupuncture next and see a neurologist. So hopefully there will be good news in the future for me! Good to know there are other people out there like me. I feel for you all.

  2. Hi… I am 48 years old abd have had migraines since my 20’s. I average 20-23 a month. I am on imitrex, botox injection, self pain injections and daily prevenative meds. I have done sleep studies. I too have tried everything under the sun, ginger, magnesium, chiropractic exams. You name it. I fear sleep because I wake up with headaches. My triggers are cheese, chocolate, alcohol, sinuses, weather; exercise, stress. Are few. They are indeed debilitating. When I have a good day I feel so blessed. I try to own my headaches and don’t let them own me. I was happy to read all the post on this page. Many people who don’t have migraines don’t understand migraines . So it was great to read what others hsve been through.

  3. I’ve had migraines since I was a teenager and am now 48 years old. I feel for all who get them & understand your pain, fear, misery & anger. Anger because no one should have to live with this ongoing, disgusting, debilitating sickness! My migraines are mentrual and would come like clock work every month, first before my period started and then about the 4th &/or 5th day in and then sometimes after it was over. Only once in a great blue moon did I not get a migraine during that time of the month, just some lower back cramps & thought, if this was the worst of having a period, I’ll take it. So this went on over the years until peri menopause kicked in! Now they have a mind of their own & occur whenever which is by far worse because you never know when or where one will strick. To make a long story short, I also have allergies and am getting headaches every morning especially since the heat was turned on. I agree and think there is a correlation with dust in the air, dryness, etc. Thanks everyone for all your comments, hoping it helps!

  4. Hi everyone! I am so happy I found this site.I am amazed at how many people out there are suffering with these crippling migraines just like I have been for the past 20 + years.They really do take over your life, especially when they happen every other day or so or in my case, sometimes daily.Despite living with unimaginable pain (icepick through your head kinda pain), I had, until recently managed to hold on to a full time job for 11 years in a Day Care.I sometimes wonder how I ever did this with all of these migraines that kept coming at me.But I did.I would take my meds at the very first sign of migraine and 8 times out of 10 it would work and I would just march on through my day.For the times when my medication would not work, I would have to call in sick because I could not even leave my bed.The pain has sometimes been so bad that on occasion I have gone to the emergency to get a shot.Usually, I take Imitrex because it is the only thing that has worked for me.Although I hear that some people get a lot of side effects from this med.Migraines are pure misery and none of us should have to suffer like that.We miss out on so much! I inherited mine from my mother but she only got them 2-3 times a year(really bad though).I get them all the time.Fortunately, recent studies have found that as we women (sorry guys) get older, around 45, migraines tend to slowly diminish in a lot of us.I’m 38 so to me, even though I’m not there yet, this is exciting news.Apparently, the decrease in migraines has to do with hormonol changes that take place after a certain age.This gives me hope.I recently got a small inheritance so I have been able to cut down on my hours at work.Let’s just say that for once, I have decided to think of me and take a well deserved break.I’m anxious to see if this will help with my migraines as well.To all of you fellow migraine sufferers out there, don’t give up and educate yourselves as much as possible on the condition.I did and it’s helped me a great deal with managing it all.Wishing you as many migraine free days as possible!(:

  5. I just found this website, and boy can I relate to all the comments. I was just wondering if anyone else is unable to work or schedule anything because of these horrible menacing headaches ( that word just doesn’t do it justice). I just want to feel like a normal person again. My headaches seem to follow a pattern, rather than being brought on by a trigger ( although that can happen as well). I get 4 days of migraines every 6-7 days without fail. Just wondering if anyone else gets them like that.

  6. I have suffered from chronic daily headaches/migraines for the past 6/7 years. I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on doctors, specialists etc etc who can NEVER give me any answers…

    After years of doing my own research (looking at many of the ideas above plus many, many more) I have narrowed my headaches down to sleep.

    I still do not know exactly what it is about sleep, but I am always tired and groggy during the day, with a thumping headache that wont go away. The funny thing is as the evening arrives the headache starts to go and I hardly ever go to sleep with a headache.

    Some small suggestions that have helped me cut down the frequency of headaches are to sleep on my back.. I have always been a front sleeper and since changing, the associated neck pain has eased, giving me fewer headaches.

    Also allowing my body to go through the natural course of sleep and not waking up to an alarm (a nightmare if you work 8/9am – 5pm) helps me.

    Also allowing natural light to enter the room in the morning. I used to sleep with block out curtains and my room as dark as possible as I thought it was helping me sleep. I have now found that with the curtains open, my body must recognise its morning and begin the process of naturally waking up (rather than not knowing if its night or day in a dark cavernous room!!)

    I also find if i eat some sugar, and also salt!! it helps me too, I actually think my body craves it?!?

    I also wonder if sinus issues may be the cause, from lying in a particular position creates a build up of fluids etc.

    I finally have some relief from the daily pain, I now get maybe 2/3 headache free days a week AMAZING!!! After many years of research I have found something that works!

  7. About 50% of people can heal their headaches by waht they eat. It amazes me whe these older people who have “suffered since the dinosaurs” barely know anything about headaches. I am 15 and have found tyramine and gluten give me migraines. These dumbies get so frustrated about why they get a headache after they shove a big mac into their gullet. I’m not saying most people are like this, I just feel like people are aren’t doing enough research. Only listening to your doctor = a bad idea. If I had I would have probably had to drop out of high school, quit sports and lay in bed all day.

  8. I have been trying to Understand migraines and their sudden occurrence in my life. Migraines have caused extreme pain and fear in my life. I am or rather used to be always scared that I could get a migraine anytime, mostly because I did not know what is causing them. Fear is more painful then the migraine itself. As I used to get migraines mostly in the night Around 2:30 am I started getting scared every evening around 7:00 pm thinking whether today was the night I get it again and suffer the extreme pain. Fear had totally gripped me and I seriously felt miserable.
    This continued for sometime and then I finally decided that I have to fight the fear. I have to find reasons for my pain and I have to end this painful monster in my life.

    I had got 4-5 migraine attacks when I was 12 yrs old after which they had vanished from my life. They returned when I was 26 when I went through a very emotional and painful period in my life. The bad times got over, but my migraines did not make an exit. They kept returning ever six months and I would suffer 4-5attacks every six months.
    I found it extremely embarassing calling work every morning and saying I cannot make it coz I am having a migraine. I hate being weak. Oh! It makes my skin crawl, but I had to make a few of these calls ever six months. Painful! But not anymore:)

    So the first reason for migraines in my life, STRESS. 
    If you want to fight the migraine, you have to fight STRESS. My husband has a job that keeps him out of the house for 3 weeks in a month. Every time he left to India for work I would feel lonely and sad, and then during my weakest moments the monster attacked, leaving me weaker and sadder. It’s not the monster it’s me killing myself with all these emotions. 
    Be happy that you have been blessed with a morning w/o migraine. Be Happy. BE THANKFUL for all the beautiful loving people in your life. 
    Divert your mind, Listen to music, Do your exercise, Yoga, move your ASS 🙂

    Next, ACIDITY
    Avoid food that can cause acidity. If you are enjoying some spicy food, have a early dinner and then a good walk digesting all that food. Also drink loads of water, neutralizing the ACID.
    I once had loads of Indian pickle and got a migraine. 
    Once I was sick and took a syrup that caused acidity. If you have to take these syrup’s remember early dinner and then the syrup. ATleast 2 hrs between dinner and sleep.

    Now, something that worked like a miracle for me, after all my pain and agony, after fearful nights and analyzing and reanalyzing finally something that actually helped me after I got the migraine.
    I started taking MAGNESIUM supplement 500 mg everyday.  
    But the discovery of this miracle element came in one night when I was sick with cold and I decided to miss the supplement thinking I was already pumped enough medicine in my stomach. I hadn’t gone the doctor so I was just taking paracetomol and a syrup that helps in cold. I landed up taking this syrup just before sleeping and that caused acidity and got me the migraine. I was scared shit in the night, first I have cold and soar throat and here comes the monster. Then I saw my MAGNESIUM supplement on the table. I was in the aura phase where I had started to get numbness in my hands and face. I decided I had enough of this migraine bullshit, jumped over the bed ran to the kitchen for some water and just popped in one pill of MAgnesium. Then I prayed. 
    Here is what happened in the next 5 min, the numbness vanished and head did not get heavy. After 15 min I felt very slight pain on the right side of my head…..but that was it. I This pain was very very mild and I could only feel it if I moved my head. I slept peacefully.
    I did not have to call in SICK. I was thankful to GOD that finally I have found the cure to my migraines. 
    STRESS, ACIDITY all deplete MAGNESIUM in your body and if you are sensitive to this drop you suffer migraines. 
    I hope no one ever has to suffer a migraine after reading this article.
    Live a HAPPY and PEACEFUL life, include MAGNESIUM in your diet 🙂

  9. When you are suffering from minor aches and pains
    like a headache, backache or toothache. Flanax Pain Reliever Tablets can also help you deal with pain from a simple common cold to certain symptoms and conditions like arthritis, fever and menstrual cramps.


  10. I am glad to hear you have identified a trigger and that you are feeling a bit better.

    I *really* want you to consider having your furnace checked for Carbon Monoxide leaks though.

    Carbon Monoxide is colorless, odorless and causes migraine-like headaches.

    Chief culprits in the home are old furnaces and gas stoves.

  11. Ugh I feel everyone’s pain. Allergies really trigger my migrianes. I lieve in S. FL and things are blooming and it’s dry and the pollen and mold counts are off the charts. I have a few good days and then wham a run of bad days. It’s just trying to get thru the simple tasks that most people take for granted.

    This is what it felt like today, imagine a 20 lb kettle bell on your shoulder, balancing it, trying to move fast, think fast and the pain runs up your head over your eye and down your back. Now Imtrex helps a lot, but can I live on steady diet of it? I know this is a bad time of year, it happens every year this time and by the end of April, I hope to be better.

    I sometimes wonder if my body lotion doesn’t trigger migranes. Seriously, if it has nut extracts or nut oils and it’s absorbed into the body… why couldn’t it trigger a migraine?

    I am glad I stumbled unto this blog. It helps me feel like I am not crazy and not alone. Thanks Kerrie

  12. I just discovered this website today and think that it is awesome. I’ve suffered from migraines since I was four and will be 40 next month. They became disabling after two brain injuries. I was hit by a hit and run driver and then two years later I was hit by a drunk driver. I suffer from migraines 3-5 days a week. They’ve been at their worst for the last 5 years now. It is so nice to read blogs that I can relate to so well. I was up all night with a migraine after having a two day break. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t do my to do list today and burst into tears. Finding this web page was like the parting of the clouds. I called my dad who lives 7 hours away and said, “I don’t feel like such a freak dad. There are other people out there with stories just like mine!” Thanks again for such a supportive resource.

  13. On my 4th day of this migraine and have tried not to move around so much but I really want to walk my dog. I’m afraid it will keep it from going away or make it worse. Anybody have any ideas about this?

    If you move around and it feels worse, then walking would probably hurt too much. Otherwise, getting out and walking may actually help you feel better.


  14. Happy to hear that you are having some good days. I really hope that things continue to get better for you as you complete the home improvements.

  15. I know regular people don’t understand what we mean when we say we’re feeling better, but I’m glad to know you’re had periods with less suffering. It’s always nice to hear from you. 🙂

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