IBS and Migraine Bullied Me

IBS and Migraine Bullied Me

Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of stories about IBS sufferers suffering from migraines. I haven’t done much research on the connection between migraines and IBS before because I wasn’t really dealing with both myself, and I was already so busy learning how to manage the symptoms I was, and still am, dealing with. However, late last year I started developing migraines at least once or twice every few months, so now I feel motivated to study more about the connection. As much research as I’ve done on IBS and the mind-gut connection, I feel like there still is so much more for me to learn. One of things I’ve found so far is that research shows that there is in fact a link between migraines and IBS.1 However, more studies still need to be done in order to develop conclusive evidence. Also, it’s hard for me to consider myself a chronic migraine sufferer because I haven’t dealt with them long enough yet, and I don’t feel like I get them as often as others. Nonetheless, I want to share a story of my most recent migraine and IBS episode in hopes that other IBS sufferers who deal with migraines on a regular basis can relate to my story.

Bullied in the bathroom

A few nights ago, I went to bed with a pain in my head that was beyond agonizing. It felt like my head was in between a vice grip that was slowly crushing my head, and it was creating a throbbing sensation. In fact, it was so painful that for the first time in a long time I actually went to bed and fell asleep before my wife which is not typical because my IBS and/or anxiety normally keep me awake at night for a while. And although that wasn’t the issue this time, my IBS certainly still woke me up in the middle of the night rushing to the toilet.

As I rushed to the bathroom, half asleep, the throbbing pain in my head gradually reminded me of the obnoxious migraine I went to sleep with. The longer I sat on the toilet and the more I strained, the more prevalent and excruciating the migraine became. Both my head and stomach were in so much pain that I felt so helpless and scared about what was happening to not only my brain, but my entire body. It was as if I was an innocent high school student being bullied in the bathroom (embarrassingly while on the toilet, might I add) by two tough guys, also known as IBS and Migraine.

After my bathroom session, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to bed after all of that “bullying”, so I decided to stay awake and try to work on a few things in my office. Not the best idea, since the migraine and stomach pain were both still very prevalent, which was making it hard for me to focus and I became so frustrated. At that moment I could feel my blood pressure rising, so I decided to calm myself by taking in a deep breath. I then started to focus on things that triggered my migraine and IBS or seemed to make them worse. Here’s a short breakdown of what I noticed at that moment:

Migraine

  • Bright lights
  • Noise in general
  • Stress

IBS

  • Late-night snacks
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

Beginning to understand

Another thing I noticed was that due to my migraine, I couldn’t communicate properly and get out full sentences. For instance, while I was in my office trying to read an article out loud, I could hardly focus on or pronounce the words. It was like the migraine was making my mind feel so confused and unsure about reality. I finally decided I couldn’t deal with the pain any longer, so I took some aspirin for my head and medicated with a medical marijuana joint to ease my stomach. Thankfully both medications together fulfilled their purpose and worked almost instantly. As an added bonus from the medical joint, I was actually able to go back to sleep for a few more hours. Thank goodness! Over the following few days I still had a dull headache that lingered behind, and then the pain in my head finally subsided. Fortunately, after this recent migraine episode, I’m slowly starting to figure out what triggers my migraines and how my IBS might affect it, or vice versa. With time, I hope to either have it under control or not deal with migraines at all.

Can any of you IBS sufferers who also have migraines relate to my experience? Do you suffer from the same migraine triggers; bright lights, straining, noise in general, stress, and anxiety? What do you do to manage your symptoms? How often do you normally get migraine attacks? Please feel free to comment and share with us below. Thanks!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. Whiteman H. Could IBS, migraines and tension headaches be genetically linked? Medical News Today. February 24, 2016

Comments

View Comments (3)
  • Lynda
    7 months ago

    I have suffered with migraines for a few decades. At first they were infrequent, but over the years they have increased to about 15 per month. I have also had IBS-M for a long time. Two years ago I my ascending colon flipped over on itself and my husband took me to the ER, with me kicking & screaming all the way. I used to a Health Care Professor after several years experience in the hospital, and didn’t want to go. I was afraid. It turned out that I was rushed to surgery in an emergency situation. They removed most of my ascending colon, part of my transverse colon, my ileocecal valve, and some of my small intestine. It had ruptured and I was in septic shock. A week later I had a second emergency surgery to fix a leak from the repair. I wound up spending 85 days in hospital and nearly died a few times. I only had one migraine while in the hospital, but realized it was because I was on morphine the whole time. Of course no doctor wanted to continue my extended release morphine once I was out of hospital for over a month, so the migraines returned with a vengeance. So now again deal with both. Yes, I am extremely sensitive to light, noise & weather changes,esp those with changes in barometric pressure & lightning. My IBS has been diagnosed as abdominal migraine, and I am still waiting to see a motility expert about 2 hours away to get help with the spasms. Nothing my GI doc tried helped. Even checking for sensitivity & using the Fodmap diet didn’t help. So… I definitely empathize with your situation. I certainly hope & pray your situation doesn’t progress as mine did.

  • bruinzfan
    7 months ago

    Suffered with chronic migraines for 25+ years now and was ‘lucky’ enough to be diagnosed with IBS-A about 5 years ago. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. Daily IBS issues and 10-12 migraines a month….that is actually down from about 20-22 a month thanks to Botox injections.

    I have no life outside my home. It’s ruining my life and marriage. It was hard enough to try and make people understand how horrible migraines are (it’s not just a headache), imagine now I have these 2 ‘incurable’ diseases. I do wish everybody I know could suffer with both if only for a day….maybe then they would understand.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi, @bruinzfan – Welcome to the site, and thank you so much for your willingness to share with us. I’m so sorry to hear how much IBS and migraines are impacting you. These are incredibly hard conditions to live with. I, too, wish that more people understood that migraines aren’t “just headaches”, and IBS is not “just IBS”. I just wanted to let you know that we do have a sister site for migraines at Migraine.com. Thanks again for commenting, and becoming a member of this community. Take care. – Chris, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team Member

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