Why throwing up relieves a migraine headache

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ken w
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Date Joined Oct 2006
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   Posted 10/21/2006 8:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello, I'm new to the board. Prior to Imitrex and Zomig, 2 medicines that have saved my quality of life, I used to endure migraines for 3 - 4 days and at the end I would throw up and immediately the 4 day migraine would vanish. Is that because of some vascular release in the brain that returns to normal after throwing up due to the pressure/stress of the action? While the medicines mentioned above have eliminated these 4 day events for me, just wondered if anyone has an explanation on why throwing up relieves a migraine. TIA

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   Posted 10/21/2006 8:53 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Ken, I usually don't throw up. I get "common migraine." I feel nauseated but I don't throw up. Do you throw up voluntarily or does this just happen by chance? I hope someone comes along who has experienced this too.
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   Posted 10/22/2006 7:01 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Ken,

Welcome to Healing Well. I used to vomit a lot with every attack I had for hours at a time, and often felt worse for it too! I can still sometimes vomit with an attack but it is more common for me to get the nausea now. I have never had an attack that vomitting has stopped the attack or made me feel better, as I said it usually makes me feel worse and raises the pain level!

During an attack the stomach usually stops it's normal routine of emptying and therefore is unable to absorb anything until the attack is over. This usually means that whatever is in the stomach be it drugs or food will often come back. At which point this happens differs for all of us. I was given Imitrex injections because of this to bypass my stomach. How do you take your Imitrex and Zomig?

Hopefully someone will come along with a similar experience to yourself, unfortunately this disease affects us all in different ways.

take care


ken w
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Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 10/22/2006 11:39 AM (GMT -6)   
Ann, thanks for reply. I no longer have the vomiting as I stop my migraine with Imetrix or Zomig(by mouth) at the first signs. But prior these medications, after vomiting my migraine was instantly gone. That's what I am trying to find an answer to as this seems to me to be a possible clue as to what actually caused the migrains in me. Weird disease - and I thank God everyday for these medications as my quality of life has increased beyond hope. In the last several years it appears that people are finally getting the idea that weather fronts are a real culprit. I used to get so upset at doctors that thought I was crazy mentioning weather fronts as a trigger. Hope the Imetrix injections continue to work for you. Any relief/hope is a Godsend.


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Date Joined Oct 2006
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   Posted 10/31/2006 9:11 PM (GMT -6)   
:-)  Hi Ken.  I've had the same thing happen to me.  It doesn't happen that frequently, but I've had migraines disappear after throwing up.  I've always wondered why too and have never heard an answer.

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Date Joined Nov 2006
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   Posted 11/4/2006 5:23 PM (GMT -6)   
I've had the same thing happen to me. I usually get pretty nauseaus with a full blown migraine, and a few times I've actually vomited (once was at a state park...I was trying to hike up a waterfall with my husband....don't ask). After vomiting, the headache was magically gone....although I remember being extremely tired afterward. I have heard that vomiting is a vascular deconstrictant and helps with migraine symptoms for that reason. I just did a google search on it, and found nothing....so I can't really back this claim up. I sort of like to think that the nausea/vomiting is my body's own way of fighting the migraine. However, I don't let them get to that point anymore.

Good luck!

Gabe S
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Date Joined Jun 2009
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   Posted 6/27/2009 11:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I've had the same kind of thing happen to me five times, the fifth being today.
It starts with a migraine that last for about three hours and at the end of the migraine I throw up, making the migraine immediately go away, although my head still hurts a little. I'm wondering what causes this. Is the trowing up caused by the migraine? Why is this? And why did it start happening now? It never happened to me before.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 6/28/2009 7:51 AM (GMT -6)   
My understanding is you throw up because the pain is so bad and that the bodies response to the pain.
When I start throwing up it can go one of two ways... either I start to get better.... or I get worse and cant stop throwing up and end up in the ER because I can get dehydraded. I usually try to prevent myself from getting to this stage. Promethazine is a great drug to help with the nausea.

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Date Joined Dec 2004
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   Posted 6/28/2009 10:37 PM (GMT -6)   
Im the same way SMP...its either things start to get better (aren't immediately gone) or it gets so bad that I end up in the ER and their treatments are usually a longshot.

I have a reaction to phenergan and the only thing that remotely works (at home) is Zofran ODT (they dissolve in your mouth-no swallowing required)
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Date Joined Dec 2009
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   Posted 12/7/2009 5:32 PM (GMT -6)   
My 11yr. old son has been having very quick onset migraines. Within 30 to 45min. he will vomit and the headache is magically gone. I have a history of migraines ( my father has the black out type). I also have Multiple Sclerosis. I am concerned that there may be something more to this than just a headache. I would love to hear from anyone who has children that have had this problem or even adults. I never vomit with my migraines eventhough I get nauseated... Thanks

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Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 2386
   Posted 12/8/2009 1:39 AM (GMT -6)   
There could be medical conditions that cause this, and doctor should be informed. Also, it could be a "trigger" of what causes the migraine. Certain foods, drinks, allergents, molds, etc can trigger a migraine. With each person different, the way to find your triggers of what causes your migraines is to keep a journal of anything you eat, drink, put on (laundry detengerent, shampoo, soap, deorderent etc). Look for common factors and elimanate the common factor one for a week or two to see if it improves.

FOr example, one day I was drinking soda and I got this terrible migraine. I had to do something, and I felt better. I drank more soda Ouch it was back. Laid off the soda a little better. Then it dawsns on me.... I will get migraines from caffine

Try it
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DX: Wegener's Disease, Migraines, Diabetese Type II, PCOS, Lactose Intolerant, Benign Heart Murmer, Depression, Asthma, Asperger's Syndrome, Necrotizing Gramultous Inflamation in eye, A.D.D., Acid Reflux, Tumor Behind the Eye, Carpal Tunnel, Fibromyolgia, Clasterphobic, Arthritis
Medications:  Tri Nessa, Percocet, Metformin, Prilosec, Protonix, Zantac, Advair, Cingulair, Albuterol, Calcium + Vitamin D, Pro-Air, Pepcid, Rolaids, Zofran, Compuzeen, Refresh Plus Eye Drops  PRN: Epi-Pen, Albuterol Nebulizer, Benedryl
Undergoing Radiation Taking Lorazepam (Ativan) on Radiation Days

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Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 15
   Posted 12/9/2009 10:46 PM (GMT -6)   
I have had many migraine attacks that if I move my head even a little,I will start vomiting and not be able to stop for hours. So,I have learned to keep Dramamine on hand. I take it as soon as my pain level starts going up. You have to be careful not to get dehydrated and of course vomiting will do that.
I have also actually thought my head would explode with the pressure of both the pain and the vomiting.

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Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/5/2010 9:38 AM (GMT -6)   
I found this link about vomiting and migraines off google after suffering from one last night I wanted to see if anyone else has my kind of migraines and im surprised to see that there are. .

I used to suffer bad from migraines more as a kid. I think it was the school I went too. All the florescent lights or the smell got to me almost everyday. ALso I got my tonsils out and now I get maybe 5 or 8 a year if that. But I still swear by that school. It was almost 10-15 times a month I would suffer hard. Like bang my head against the wall scream and go to the e.r and get a shot of morphine hard.

I didnt even have to wait in a waiting room ever. walk past everyone find my bed. they would shoot me up and i got to tell you. Morphine is SOOO good for migraine relief. way under rated. After those shots I knew that my headache was gone in 5 more min. and I got to sleep for 10 hours and woke up feeling like 10 million bucks!.

I dont need to go to the hospital anymore or use drugs to cure my migraines(knock on wood) , through lots of experience I have my own method of taking away migraines in a couple hours.

If I get on a good role and can throw up atleast a cerial bowel full I am pretty confidant that my migraine will just turn into a violent headache . A headache I would much rather have then a normal everyday run of the mill mild headache. Only very sensitive to jerky movements . Feels like my brain is bashing off the insides to my skull. But I feel 100% laugh go out etc. . . but am definitely walking on eggshells..

Nonetheless, when I get my warning signs witch are , blindless or sense of feeling blind. (hard to explain) Or seeing flashy lights or lights with circles I know that inevitably within the the hour or two I am going to get seriously ill. So I drink lots of water or pop and wait for the nausia to kick in . When I am able, I MAKE myself throw up for instant relief . Its weird but thats how my migrains personally are. .If anyone attempts this I would suggest making sure you have something to throw up, as I have done it raw and its just not good for you to toss up stomach fluid. And the relief after isint as pleasurable.

Sometimes I can even get away with drinking so much pop that I have massive gas build up and burp it out . No joke. .the vomit will follow eventually , but its such an instant relief high, it can land you half hour or hour of sleep when feeling like that. Also, it sounds funny but I find sitting on the toilet and trying to take a duke also gives me "temporary" relief while waiting for the puking to start.

So im just writing to let everyone know how I take care of my migraines I have atleast 20 years dealing with them . Have had hundreds . If you can vomit for relief you will definitely know if it works by feelings INSTANTLY better / tired INSTA SLEEP feeling. The feeling will be INSTANT, I dont want anyone to keep on trying to puke. You wont feel 100% . But you feel relief!

I read what other people said that vomit can make theres worse. So remember, drink lots of water/pop. Try to burp. Try taking a poo. Make sure you have something in there to puke up. If I help one person it will be worth the post. Again im not saying this works for everyone. But I believe that there are different migraines just as there are people. I always suffer from the same symptoms know my triggers and my relief techniques . If we have the same type of migraine , or someone you know. Then my post will be a god send to you. hope i help someone!!.

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Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/6/2010 11:09 PM (GMT -6)   
I have been suffering from migraine headaches since I was a little kid. I was hit by a car at the age of 3, and have had bad headaches ever since. However, migraines definitely run in my family. My migraines do not come with any warnings, other than a piercing headache that keeps getting worse, and no amount of drugs will help them. I suffer a lot of different kinds of headaches, from exertion headaches, to dull throbbing ones that last for days/weeks at a time, and of course the horrendous migraines. Oh yes, and I'm very sensitive to smells as well, and certain smells can give me an instant headache... some smells like tar for roofing and roads, certain perfumes/colognes, and anything in an aerosol can.

Most of these headaches though tiring, and sometimes very painful, they don't hold a candle to the vicious migraines I get. I have never noticed any links to my headaches... nothing I eat or drink trigger them... but stress plays a big part in them. Everyone has different remedies, but I agree whole heartedly with devo that you should try and throw up, but please, please... make sure you do have something in your stomach. I have only ever found relief from my migraines when I puke my guts out... and yes, even as mentioned, a *poop* can help too. If my migraine is very severe then my body will do this automatically. I don't have to make myself sick, as I always end up puking, and I will have to go *poop* too. It's almost like my body is ridding itself of a toxic poison, and uses the two avenues available. If my headache is bad quickly, I will often make myself sick, just to get the relief that much quicker.

Okay, so here's where I differ... over the years I have found myself in absolute agony laying on the cold bathroom floor, waiting for the next wave to send me over the toilet again. And have often become very cold... so I've taken my hair dryer and used it to get warm quickly when I get back into bed. And strangely enough, using the heat on my forehead, and back of my neck... while trying to knead out the hard knot my neck becomes. I often throw up 2 - 4 times, and use the hair dryer in between, and it really helps me for some strange reason. The noise doesn't bother me because I find white noise very soothing.

Now saying all this, I had a migraine 2 nights ago (mine almost always happen at night, the very bad ones anyways) that was a little different for me. I felt my head start to throb about 10:30pm and went and took a very hot bath to soak my aches away, and was so exhausted, that I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, after the bath. I awoke about 3.5 hours later with one of the worst migraines I've ever had. I went from opening my eyes, to absolutely needing to puke within minutes. And unfortunately, my stomach was indeed empty, but I was throwing up so violently, that I could not stop to aid myself. Usually I'll just keep drinking water, as it's the easiest stuff to come back up for me. So, I was throwing up violently about 3 times, and yep... *pooping* too! It was not fun! I always get relief when I'm finally finished throwing up... this might just be the once, or can be many more. But I still use my hair dryer, and it lulls me to sleep... and yes, I always turn it off before that happens. LOL

So, I woke up a few hours later, and felt like absolute crap! I think because it was the only time my stomach has been that empty that it really took a toll on my body. I felt my guts a mess the next day, and a lot of the same feelings you have with a hangover, I had that day. Usually after I wake up from one of my migraine episodes, I feel like a million bucks! Not so this time. So, if you can... please try and vomit, but make sure you keep drinking water or something.

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Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/7/2010 8:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I have never suffered from migraines until I started going out and drinking all night then waking up severely dehydrated! DUMB I know! I get a horrible throbbing migraine that sits behind my eyes and the only thing that makes it go away is throwing up. I've learnt to avoid these headaches now but occassionally they happen. I had one the other day and didn't want to wait for the nausea to get bad enough that I would vomit so I tried ot self induce it - I had nothing to vomit up but the gagging seemed to do the same thing and I got almost instant relief. I am really curious to know if anyone knows why the gagging/vomiting helps relieve these headaches! It's a horrible cure but hey it seems to work!

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Date Joined Dec 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 12/12/2010 4:00 PM (GMT -6)   
its funny cause i have suffered with migraines since i was about 4 years old but each one is never the same as the last . I have found it really depends on what sort of migraine it is or more where the centre of the pain is. I find when i am experiencing one that is really behind the eye that i involuntarily vomit which will do one of two things , one it either exhausts me to the point where i pass out thus getting the rest i need to fight it , or it removes whatever is in my system that is making me sick , must admit though , throwing up with a migraine feels a bit like ur head is about to explode from the inside out

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   Posted 12/14/2010 10:35 AM (GMT -6)   
I had migraines for a few years, and throwing up was the last stage.... which completely helped. I do not know why puking helps, but I just wanted to join in on the topic. I would get a headache, then it would get worse, stomach ache would be next, then I felt like someone put blinders on the sides of my vision, then sweaty and weak, achy, and then puke. All better!

I was getting migraines typically on a Monday, when I return to work.... If I had Monday off, I'd get it on Tuesday when I return to work....  Excedrine Migraine works perfectly, as long as I take it early enough when I first notice the headache.

My triggers seem to be:

Fluorescent lighting (working in the basement with no windows and fluorescent lighting gives me constant migraines... natural light is best).


I believe fruit (or eating too much fruit) might have been a trigger

I was also using Protein powders, and my nutritionist told me to stop using them... That might have been a trigger, with the fake chemical garbage that they put in them (GNC).
- Dan

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Date Joined Jan 2011
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   Posted 1/13/2011 12:35 PM (GMT -6)   

I've been suffering from migraines for my entire life (my dad gets them, too) and it's only been in the past few years that I've realized that vomiting puts an end to them. At around 18, my migraines started making me nauseous and I would involuntarily vomit, and now I know that after vomiting the pain subsides.  At some level, I feel that my migraines are my body's way of telling me that there's something in my body that shouldn't be there and my migraine will continue until it's expelled. 

I have tried multiple prescription medications, as well as over the counter, and they seem to only delay the effects of my migraine.  I might not get a migraine that day, but I will wake up with it in the middle of the night, or have it the next day.  Medications really only help me if there's something I need to get through that day.  Most of the time, I just "ride it out" with ice bags, darkness and quiet. 

I have multiple triggers: overexposure to sunlight (think laying on the beach for the day), loud music, aspartame, sleeping in for too long on the weekends, unrefined greens (broccoli rabe, kale, collard greens), and I believe hormonal birth control also gave me migraines.  My digestive health also can impact my migraines.  If I'm excited about an upcoming event, I think I can also stress myself out to the point of a migraine.

I've changed my lifestyle in the past year and actually have almost completely eliminated my migraines.  I try to only eat whole foods, nothing processed or packaged, and get enough light exercise (usually walking).  I keep to the same sleep schedule, even on the weekends and have been mostly migraine free.

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   Posted 1/27/2011 12:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Everyone, I started having migraines about 6-7 months ago, and I seem to get them 30-40 days apart. The first time I got one I was at work on the computer and then I realized I couldn't read what was on the screen - this was because of the small black circle in the middle of my vision (which got bigger until almost i couldn't see anything). I didn't know what it was so I went to the eye doctor and everything checked out and after the check-up they said it was probably a optic migraine - he said some people have absent migraines in which this is all the symptoms that show up, I wasn't so lucky and my head began to start hurting on my right side - these head pains usually go away right after throwing up and last about 1hr - 1hr 1/2. I don't take any medication for it, it just runs its course then goes away after interrupting my day.

But Just wanted to share that my headaches seem to dissipate almost immediately after vomiting.

If anyone has any advice, please let me know :-)


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   Posted 2/9/2011 6:02 AM (GMT -6)   
Migraine is a neurological syndrome characterized by severe headache with some episodes of nausea. They are typically unilateral and pulsating lasting for a 4 to 72 hours. There are possible ways of relieving migraine headaches like exercise, good sleeping, relaxed environment etc but these are long process. There are many commonly used medicines for mild to moderate migraine attacks.
I have edited your post and would point you to the forum rules about advertising. Ann

Post Edited By Moderator (Annuk) : 2/9/2011 9:03:59 AM (GMT-7)

robert 70
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   Posted 2/24/2011 8:32 AM (GMT -6)   
HI.guys.Ive been getting migraines since i was 16 years old and know Im 41.Too many years dealing with this s_it.I really dont know why my headaches vanish for months at a time and then come back with a vengance.Well its back to the doc.But gonna try the throwing up thing today. God help me please!!!!!!!!! Only him and you guys know what this PAIN is really about.Thank you guys!!!!!

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 224
   Posted 2/24/2011 12:35 PM (GMT -6)   
That's horrible! I hope the neuro is able to give you something that helps. Maybe Ann can chime in here. She's the cluster headache guru.

I really wonder if you have a rare headache/migraine variant. It's called Cyclic Migraine (and it is often misdiagnosed as cluster).

Here is a link that describes treatment options (it often doesn't respond to the standard migraine preventatives particularly well):


According to the website, first line treatments include lithium and indocin.

I hope the appointment goes well!

Post Edited (EvilFluorescents) : 2/24/2011 10:40:01 AM (GMT-7)

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   Posted 2/25/2011 2:32 AM (GMT -6)   
I don't often experience migraines, (once or twice a year) thank goodness, because they knock me for a loop every time. As others have mentioned, only vomitting will bring relief for me.

I usually wake up with what feels like a normal headache, but instead of fading away in 15 minutes, it starts intensifying. Then before I know it I'm in the fetal position in bed, clutching blankets over my eyes to block out any light. The migraine progressively gets worse, with the accompanying nausea. This usually goes on for 4-5 hours until it reaches critical mass & it's time to puke my guts out. This isn't voluntary at all. I usually vomit violently for 30 min to an hour, and even though this is terrible, I know relief is on the way. Finally, after I vomit my migraine fades into a standard headache & I go to sleep for another 4-5 hours. When I wake up I feel woozy, almost hungover. Obviously this is an all day affair & I can't function in any capacity during the attack. I need complete quiet, stillness, and as little light as possible to minimize the pain. I honestly don't know how anyone can do anything while they have a migraine.

I seem to get them in the Spring, sometimes the fall, and I've usually (not always) drank alcohol the night before. I haven't found any common triggers but I don't get them often so I don't have a lot of data so to speak.

My last migraine was different though. It wasn't quite as intense, but I threw up for much longer. It faded into an awful headache & I continued to vomit. Finally it went away & I slept a bit. Even though the pain wasn't quite as intense, the vomitting gave me plenty to hate.

di dee
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Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/8/2011 10:13 PM (GMT -6)   
seam.by.seam has described exactly how my migraines are. I don't get many either. November 2010 and early February 2011 have been when I had the last two. They are debilitating as I can't move, talk or respond to anything without having to throw-up. Usually dry reaching until I finally throw-up bile. This process takes at least 6 hours from when I wake up with a mild headache which quickly intensifies into a raging one. I can not take anything for the headache or even drink water, I just throw-up. Lying in bed if I lie on my side and roll over to the other side this also causes me to throw-up. I just write the day off as I am totally useless. about an hour after throwing up the bile, I try to sip water a little at a time. Finally, at the end of the day I come good.

After the February headache I finally went to the doctor to try and find out why I get these horrible headaches. The doctor has prescribed medication in the form of a wafer that I am meant to place under my tongue when I feel this headache coming on. To date, fortunately, I have not had to use it.

It will be interesting if this works, although I'm not in a hurry to try it out.

Post Edited (di dee) : 4/9/2011 2:25:14 AM (GMT-6)

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Date Joined Apr 2011
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   Posted 4/9/2011 9:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm new to the forum and hoping for some help and ensight to my problem. Started out as sharp pain behind right ear and progressed into an almost constant sharp stabbing pain traveling all the way to my temple. Imitrex, Esgic Plus, Tylenol, etc no help...First trip to Dr given 1 shot Toporel & 2 of Norflex plus tylenol...lasted about 18 hrs & back I went. This time 1 shot ea Toporel & Norflex, dosepack & motrin but every evening it returns. So far they just say myalgia headache maybe due to inflamation. I am taking antibiotics & decongestant for sinus infection & it is getting better but have had this debilitating head pain for 6 days. Have not been able to see neurologist yet. Just cannot seem to keep this dibilitating pain under control and cannot function with it. Anyone have any ideas? Cluster headaches have been mentioned but what I read doesn't fit. I am familiar with muscle spasms, pain, etc as I have fibromyalgia but this the worst I've ever had & can only get relief w/shots for pain.
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