Thursday, 9 October 2014


I have posted about headaches a couple of times, and things are making some progress.

1. Migraines.

As wikipedia explains, a migraine is usually a sequence of symptoms. In my case it starts with the aura, a visual effect. Initially a small blind spot in the centre of my vision, which I notice quickly if I am reading. This slowly grows in to a curve, where the edge is like looking through some sort of crystal. This gradually expands out to the edge of my vision and goes. This is the point that migraine sufferers usually get a severe headache, and I am lucky in that I only get a mild headache. However, I don't feel right for a while, but it is a tad hard to explain.

So far the only clue to triggers is ammonia - as I got a spate of them when using a cream for a cracked lip which contained a lot of ammonia. I also got one whilst on holiday after using an insect bit cream that stank of ammonia. I have had them without such a trigger though, so at this stage I am going to start a diary to try and find patterns. It does seem that they are less frequent now though. It also seems there are some treatments to help prevent migraines, although most seem to be targeted at treating the headache which I don't really get.

2. Headache after drinking.

OK, first off, lets just make this clear - I do not mean a normal hangover here. A hangover is usually the result of dehydration because alcohol causes your body to try and flush it out of the system by peeing! As anyone with any practice drinking a lot will know - having a large glass of water before bed will sort a hangover. I am really not one to get hangovers.

This was a headache, an hour or two after I stopped drinking. The headache was severe, waking me up, and meaning I could not get to sleep for the whole night - usually clearing up around 7am, but still leaving me feeling unwell all morning. It really is very bad spending all night sat on your bed holding your head unable to sleep. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen did nothing.

I worked out that I could drink a certain amount and be fine, but just slightly too much and I would get this headache. There seemed to be no middle ground. It is certainly one way to cut down on drinking. It made no difference if I had not had a drink for a week before, if I drunk just too much in one evening, I would get the headache. It did not matter what I drank, a few pints of cider, or shots of cask strength single malt - a certain amount of alcohol would trigger the headache.

Of course, one does not want to go to the doctor and say "I get a headache if I drink too much" as you just know what the answer will be.

Looking on the Internet, and skipping all of the hangover cures, it does seem I am not alone. However, I think I may have found the cause.

I get checked regularly, including my kidneys and liver, which are both fine. But my blood pressure is also checked, and they finally started me on a very low dose of ACE inhibitors to bring my blood pressure down a little.

Since then, no problem. I have "tested" this a few times now, and I can, if I want, drink way more with no problems. To be clear, I do probably drink too much at times, but not every night. Different people handle drink differently, and I am not trying to encourage people to drink a lot, honest. Drinking such that you feel ill is never a good idea!

If you have the same problem, it could be that what you actually have is a blood pressure issue - so it is worth getting checked out.


  1. Your posts about headaches were what made me realise I actually get (painless) migraines. I'd never thought to look it up before - just assumed I was tired!
    So, in a way, thanks :)

  2. I have low blood pressure. When I was younger sometimes if I got out of bed too quickly in the morning I woke up a few minutes later finding myself in a sprawled heap back on the bed, having passed out. It's not as bad now, but I do roll slowly to a sitting position on the bed and then stand up slowly, because I still feel a bit light headed if I get up too quickly.

  3. I was on pizotifen for years, to prevent the inconvenience migraines put me through - in reality I was on it way longer than I should have been. When I came off that, I had some supplies of rizatriptan which were not yet expired... but my doctor of the time was keen on the paracetamol-based treatments which did nothing for me and in some cases actually made matters worse. I obtained some sumatriptan over the counter and needed to use it just once - it got me back to "fit to do normal tasks" in just 90 minutes. I asked my new doctor about this and got sumatriptan on prescription - I haven't needed it since, though. I tend to get one migraine every 2-3 years now. I have fairly low blood pressure but activity that tends to put it up may trigger a migraine - had a few like that.

  4. Some of what you have described seems similar to a condition a member of my family has suffered called IIH - Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. It is a condition that is not well know either in medical circles or the general populace due to being symptomatically similar to migraine, but for which usual migraine treatments do not work.

    I'm not a doctor so I'm not going to say you have got it, but you might want to find out more from and come to your own conclusions.