Migraines are bad. Chemical problems that cause the brain to hallucinate and creates an extreme photosensitivity and aversion to noise. Once the hallucinations begin to end (or sooner), a bad headache comes on. How do you tell that you are having a migraine and not just a regular headache?

Does light or noise cause your headache to get worse?
Are you nauseous?
Are you hallucinating or going blind?
Does it hurt worse than breaking a bone?
Is it hard to concentrate?
Are your muscles tight?
Do you have a fever? (If you do, you probably don’t have a migraine, but you should see a doctor)

How do athletes deal with migraines? Not that all athletes get migraines, or all migraine sufferers are athletes. In fact, as far as I am aware, there is no correlation between the two. If you are not working out, then you could always do the ol’ “find a dark quiet corner and curl up in the fetal position and feel sorry for yourself” routine, or try to knock yourself unconsious. There are various medicines that you could take, such as the over-the-counter Excedrin Migraine (basically ibuprofin and caffeine – a lot of it), or prescription drugs such as Migranol. I tend to avoid their products since one of them almost killed me once by causing my throat to swell and to cut off my air supply.

What to do if you have a migraine when you are working out, though? Do you stop, and try to treat it? Or do you keep going, finishing your workout? Do you try to work harder to distract yourself from the pain?

I have gotten pretty good at running and moving around blind, but I will tend to stop if it is easily feasible. If I am a few miles out in the middle of nowhere, then I keep running. Sometimes I can distract myself, but usually it seems to make it worse. Of course, it would probably get worse no matter what, so that is a moot point. Once at the gym, I could’nt go anywhere, so I went and sat in the spa and that seemed to help. The migraine did not last too long.

There are medicines that you can take daily that will tend to lessen the chance of getting a migraine or to make them less severe when you do. I used to use Verapamil, a generic form of Calan. It is a calcium-channel blocker, but one of its side effects (or main effects depening upon why you are taking the drug) is to lower your blood pressure, which was not good for somebody like me who has low blood pressure. A few years of taking that daily though and my migraine problem has for the most part been licked. I still get occasional ones, but they are not nearly as severe as they used to be, and rather than getting clusters of them I only get a few a year. Which is much better than going blind for two weeks.

Another problem with migraines, and the medicines that combat them, is that you tend to get dehydrated. If you are nauseous, you won’t feel like eating or drinking, and if you aren’t, your muscles will still be tight and you will get a cotten mouth. A migraine may only last a few hours, but the aftereffects can last for days. It is important to replenish the body and allow yourself to recover, while hopefully not sacrificing too much of your training program.