Migraines and hiking

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dehrlich101
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Migraines and hiking

Postby dehrlich101 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:06 pm

Recently I have been developing migraines while hiking 14ers.. While they aren't debilitating, they aren't fun.

Does anyone else experience this? Any tricks to keep them away?

Thanks!
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby sunny1 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:11 pm

Are you getting migraine aura prior to the headaches? Or do you mean you're getting severe headaches without migraine aura? Have you had migraines at other times? When are you getting them during your climb?

Sometimes people will label bad headaches migraines, but they are not technically migraines.
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby painless4u2 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:17 pm

It's possible they are related to the effects of altitude (not true migraines) and as such I'd make sure you're keeping well hydrated, with proper electrolytes, and taking Diamox (acetazolamide) may help. Just start taking it a day or so before you climb. You'll need a doctors prescription for it, of course.
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby dehrlich101 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:19 pm

sunny1 wrote:Are you getting migraine aura prior to the headaches? Or do you mean you're getting severe headaches without migraine aura? Have you had migraines at other times? When are you getting them during your climb?


Sometimes people will label bad headaches migraines, but they are not technically migraines.


Yes, I do get the migraine aura before the headaches. I have got them maybe once every 6 months since I was in middle school, occurring mostly after or during exercise.

The last time it occurred was on La Plata peak, we finished up our hike and drove back into Leadville for some food and it started in the restaurant. I had another one on the mountain while hiking Redcloud and Sunshine on the decent over to Sunshine.
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby USAKeller » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:34 pm

dehrlich101 wrote:Any tricks to keep them away?

Have you tried caffeine yet?
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby sunny1 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:35 pm

:(

I also get them infrequently while hiking - have visual aura and the left side of my face gets numb...then the headache. I can think of only 2 events in the past 4 years while hiking, not too bad.
I have less of them now than in the past.
I start every day at altitude with an Aspirin or a single Excedrin in the a.m. - that seems to help me.
Then, of course, all the rest of the good things you do during the day - staying hydrated, well nourished, etc., help, too.
If I get aura, I stop and take either another single excedrin (contains aspirin, tylenol and caffeine) or Ibuprofen with some caffeine and a bit of food. Still get the headache, can function, but it won't be one of my stronger days.

If the number of them you're getting is increasing or becoming debilitating, you might want to speak with your medical provider for a Rx.
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby rockymountaindiva » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:57 pm

I get migraines frequently when I push myself very hard such as doing 14ers. Eating makes it worse, even for hours after I'm done. Sometimes a coke or mountain dew helps, but usually I just end up taking prescription drugs (imitrex). I hope you find something that works for you!
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby dehrlich101 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:09 pm

USAKeller wrote:
dehrlich101 wrote:Any tricks to keep them away?

Have you tried caffeine yet?


No I haven't. Is it better to take it in pill form or liquid (Mountain dew or Coke)?

Thanks, Sunny and Diva. I'll try the Excedrin next time I am in the Hills. Hopefully that will help. Also going to the docs this week.. hoping that I can get away with an over the counter medication and not a Rx.
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby USAKeller » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:00 pm

dehrlich101 wrote:
USAKeller wrote:
dehrlich101 wrote:Any tricks to keep them away?

Have you tried caffeine yet?

No I haven't. Is it better to take it in pill form or liquid (Mountain dew or Coke)?

It's better in liquid because it hits your bloodstream quicker. Try for something with around 100mg of caffeine (an 8oz can of Coke has about 55mg). If you go with pop, avoid the ones that have aspartame because that can cause bad headaches too. I prefer 5-Hour Energy!
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby prone2jodl » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:08 pm

+1 to caffeine, and then a follow-up question: do you hike with any sort of eye protection (ie sunglasses)? I've never had a migraine while hiking, but I have had them brought on by extremely bright conditions. Hiking a 14er could certainly fit that description...
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dehrlich101
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby dehrlich101 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:30 pm

prone2jodl wrote:+1 to caffeine, and then a follow-up question: do you hike with any sort of eye protection (ie sunglasses)? I've never had a migraine while hiking, but I have had them brought on by extremely bright conditions. Hiking a 14er could certainly fit that description...


Sometimes I do.. I've always thought that sunlight was one of the contributing factors. I like early alpine starts.. so possibly the change from darkness to sunrise triggers it?

Thank you, USAKeller!
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Re: Migraines and hiking

Postby IanG » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:25 pm

I get was getting headaches nearly every 14er I did no matter how well I hydrated or ate; it also seemed to get worse the harder I pushed and heavier I was breathing. I started taking Ibuprofen at around 12,500ft and again a little more at the summits. I really haven't had headaches since and it also helps my knees on the descent.

For me I think the headache is a result of the altitude and exertion. I also live at 7,500ft.

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