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Headaches are a common symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS). In fact, research has shown that over 80% of people with MS experience headaches. But how do you know if your MS and headaches are connected? Here’s what to look for.

Before you take any medicine, check with your doctor first. Some medications may cause more than one kind of headache. If you start taking a new medication, you may have to stop taking other medications. Retinoids (includes Accutane, Ativan, Tempethelex, Lovastim, Tplase) when used in combination with other medications. Can increase the risk of migraine headaches.

Headaches and Migraines
Headaches and Migraines
Source: Neurology Advisor

Diuretics, antihypertensives, and certain medicines. Can also cause headaches. However, headaches are not a common side effect of these types of medications and often go away on their own.

Headaches are not always a bad thing. For someone with MS, having an occasional migraine can be a lot better than having constant headaches. Also, even headaches that seem like they are MS-related can make it more comfortable to live with the condition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a headache is a flexible, crinkly, or pinched feeling that occurs in one or both ears, causing you to lose control of one or both arms or legs.

This can happen not only during the day but also when you’re sleeping. Certain medications can also trick the parts of the brain that control your balance.

Headaches are a pretty common symptom of MS. And if you’re experiencing one or more of the following, know that it’s not all in your head.

One of the most common causes of headaches is sleep apnea. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or have an unsettled mind, your head could catch a lot of fluff from sleep apnea, or so you might think.

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MS and Headaches

According to the American Sleep Association, smoking is linked to higher rates of headaches, angina, and stress. Also, have you ever had unusual headaches while asleep?

Perhaps bed elves, a demon, or a spy from the Star Wars universe did it for you!

Angina or heartburn is a burning sensation in your throat. It can last for a few days, or even a week or two. According to the website of the Diaphragm Info line, a decreased sphincter can make it harder for your diaphragm to relax. Speaking of the Star Wars universe, diaphragmatic breathing is an important skill an aspiring Jedi must master before they can join the fight against evil!

Withdrawal from an active activity or mental state can leave you tired and depleted. Rather than fighting the feeling yourself, you might allow it to occupy your thoughts.

About time for a nap, right?

Sleep apnea can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, and loss of energy, but it won’t make you jittery.

Scientists believe that headaches can be triggered by other conditions in addition to MS. Basically, your headache may develop due to a region of your brain getting overstimulated and experiencing atypical behaviours. For example, you’ll often feel a headache when your thoughts or senses are heightened or low on mental resources.

After experiencing a few headaches, you begin to notice patterns in the way you respond to stress. If you experience severe or repeated headaches, you may want to seek medical attention.

But if you experience headaches almost every day, such as the one you’re reading about, it may be because your MS prevents you from maintaining a healthy and regular sleep cycle.

Quality Sleep

Whether it is caused by MS or not, a lack of quality sleep can significantly impair concentration and cause permanent damage to the brain. People with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, learning disorders, and psychiatric disorders all have trouble sleeping well.

Medical News Today

Because the onset of a new headache typically occurs weeks or months after sleep deprivation, doctors recommend speaking to a medical professional in order to establish the cause and treatment plan.

However, if you experience new headaches almost every day, your doctor may diagnose you with, combined with MS, sleep apnea. At that point treatment may include medications to relieve daytime sleepiness/confidence.

These symptoms (headaches) can lead to decreased productivity and significantly affect your mood. Nobody wants that, so it’s important to figure out why your headaches occur.

If you don’t understand why your headache came on, don’t fret. Headaches are also common symptoms of other conditions. However, many doctors have noticed that headache frequency and severity tend to increase with age.

In fact, researchers have found that over 25% of older people have more headaches than the general population. However, no one really knows why that is.

There are a few conditions that get more headaches than others.

If you think the headaches you’re experiencing are due to space aliens, large spiders, or a witch, ask yourself:

  • Is it really worth it to spend money on an expensive device only to have the same symptoms reappear?

Neural Communication

Saying yes will only slightly improve your life. Uplifting technology should not be the goal of every business. Until scientists develop a method to treat migraines with electrical stimulation, spending an insane amount of money on a medical device may not be the right choice.

[Additional] expensive devices can often cause unnecessarily painful and uncomfortable side effects or worsen existing conditions.

Medical News Today

Your headaches can vary in intensity, duration, and location. Headaches tend to get worse before they get better, especially if they’re severe. Headaches linked to MS are more frequent, severe, and more persistent than headaches that occur in the absence of MS.

During a headache attack, your brain sends a series of electric signals to your brain stem. These signals suppress your nervous system and can cause headaches. Certain things can trigger a headache response in people with MS. Certain medications, problems with vitamin D, and alcohol can also cause headaches.

During a headache attack, your brain sends a series of electric signals to your brain stem. These signals suppress your nervous system and can cause headaches. Certain things can trigger a headache response in people with MS. Certain medications, problems with vitamin D, and alcohol can also cause headaches.

Suppress the Nervous System

  • Experts believe that many of these symptoms are actually caused by stress, or the natural part of the brain that’s involved in the connection between your brain and nerves.

If you’re regularly experiencing these symptoms (even if they don’t correlate with your headache triggers), don’t ignore them.

Discouragingly, it can often feel as if your headaches are coming from everywhere. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), relaxation exercises, and more can help alleviate these symptoms. But remember that according to Commonly Held Beliefs and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of America, a major cause of headaches is still damage to the inner and outer lining of the brain.

This depends on the severity and location of the headache. It can be challenging to tell if a headache is caused by your MS based solely on symptoms. If you were having a violent headache yesterday, the most likely culprit will be obvious the next day. But if the headache comes on at night or simply won’t stop, depending on the location, it may be hard to pick up the difference between an ordinary bout of anxiety or migraine and your MS.

This is another difficulty medical professionals have, while you may notice a loss of muscle coordination or dexterity shortly after stepping on the treadmill, this may not be a symptom of MS. However, if they debut after your 20-minute walk, this may indicate the possibility of ongoing issues within the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that surrounds and fills our brains.

Headaches are temporary conditions, and they go away after a certain amount of time. However, they are also often treated with medication (either systemic or topical) to reduce the frequency and severity of pain. Additionally, sometimes medications can offset the MS symptoms and lessen the intensity of headaches.

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A lot of work has gone into bringing you this post. We hope you found it interesting and informative. If you have a question, please ask it in the comments at the foot of this post.

If you don’t have a question you can use the comment to say “Hi”. If you have MS – stay strong and follow the warrior code.


What is the Connection Between MS and Headaches?

Stephen Walker is a blogger who has been living with Multiple Sclerosis or MS since 1994. He devotes a lot of time to researching this dreadful autoimmune disease, looking for answers and possible treatments.

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