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Migraines and Fatigue

Posted on November 08, 2019

If you're tired of migraines - or just plain tired - you're not alone. According to one study, nearly 60 percent of people with migraines are also fatigued from the condition. On MyMigraineTeam, coping with exhaustion is a frequent topic among members.

“I get extremely fatigued once the headache and vomiting are over,” shared one member. “After a migraine, I feel like I've been run over by a truck for two days. Then, another one starts and it becomes a big loop,” shared one woman. Added another: “I’m sooo tired of it all; it’s a draining effect on my so-called life.”

Members who experience chronic migraines, defined as 15 or more days of painful headaches per month, tend to have twice the rate of insomnia as those with less frequent headaches - and worse fatigue. “Got a crashing headache today, just like the last 60 or so days. It’s wearing me out,” shared one member. Another MyMigraineTeam member lamented: “I’m just so exhausted from my 15-day migraine at this point.”

Pre and Post-Migraine Fatigue
Fatigue generally occurs in the prodrome, or pre-headache, phase. It’s also common during postdrome, also known as "migraine hangover."

For many members of MyMigraineTeam, the hours and days following a migraine are often just as debilitating as the headache itself. One woman says she experiences “confusion, poor articulation, fatigue, weakness, nausea, trouble focusing, and back pain.” Another has “dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling out of it, weakness, and anxiety.” An “exhausted” member sums up the feeling: “The after-effects can be as painful (or difficult) as the migraine itself! I call it the ‘hangover without the fun’ phase.”

Feeling over-tired can actually trigger migraines in some members. “When I get very fatigued, it can lead to migraine. So, I just try to rest often.” Another member who experiences extreme fatigue reported: “I wake up and go to bed with migraines.”

Coping with Migraine Fatigue
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause fatigue and drowsiness, including many pain relievers. “It doesn't help that the vast majority of meds we take for this [condition] list tiredness as a side-effect,” noted one member. Agreed another, “The pain makes you tired and so do the painkillers.”

One member who takes Aimovig (Erenumab-aooe) said, “It’s helping the migraine but makes me sleep for 72 hours.” Another, who recently started Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise) said, “I’ve been on it just two days and already have really bad fatigue.” Others who take that medication advised, “The fatigue will pass as your body adjusts to it” and “Take it at bedtime.”

Other ways members cope with migraine fatigue include:

Taking a time-out. The traditional approach for surviving a migraine – dropping out for a few hours or a day - also works for pre or post-migraine exhaustion. “I just lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room, stay hydrated - and sleep.”

Exercise. Physical activity reduced one member’s fatigue. “Going to the dance studio for group class and a lesson with my husband helped,” she explained.

Supplements. Some vitamins may help increase energy levels. “My doctor suggested I try a B12 supplement for fatigue. Maybe I'll be less tired,” shared one member.

Meditation, relaxation, and lifestyle changes. “It's hard to rest when you're suffering pain,” one woman shared with another fatigued member. “But I encourage you to try any means necessary to get relaxation and restoration for your weary mind and body. Long hot baths, massage, soothing music.” Another member added: “We just have to go with the flow and try not to dwell on our migraines. Always thinking about them probably makes them worse.”

Be prepared. Another long-time migraine sufferer shared her wisdom for heading off migraine pain and exhaustion: “I’ve discovered these symptoms are all part of getting or recovering from a migraine. How do I cope? When I feel a migraine might be on its way, I prepare. Deep breathing for dizziness, lightheadedness, and anxiety. Sit down, if possible, and relax. Drink plenty of fluids. Listen to some soft music or watch a movie to take your mind off what’s going on. If you’re away from home, find a quiet spot in a cafe or shop. Ask for a stool, if you need to sit. Explain that you have a migraine, close your eyes and breathe deeply until you feel well enough to get somewhere safer, or have someone come to get you. It’s all in the forward planning.”

On MyMigraineTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with migraines, members talk about a range of personal experiences including migraine fatigue.

Here are some conversations about migraine fatigue:

Can you relate? Have another topic you'd like to discuss or explore? Go to MyMigraineTeam today and start – or join – a conversation. You'll be surprised how many others share similar stories.

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