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What Can Cause Migraines In Pregnancy

If Approved By Your Doctor Take A Tylenol

Is it normal to get migraine headaches during pregnancy, and what should I do about them?

Assuming youve already discussed a migraine with your doctor and theyve given you the green light to use OTC pain medication in the future, you can take a small dose of Tylenol for the infrequent migraine.

This isnt a long term solution, as it only puts a bandaid on the issue. We recommend really figuring out what your triggers are, and coming up with a more holistic solution.

How Is The Acute Attack Treated In Pregnancy

The two main areas of concern are treating an acute migraine and preventing attacks. When planning pregnancy, women should find it useful to discuss the treatment options that exist for the acute attack .). It should be noted that ergotamine is specifically contraindicated in pregnancy. Paracetamol is a safe treatment for acute migraine in pregnancy, but it may provide no benefit.

What You Need To Know

  • Exclude more serious causes of headache such as cerebral venous thrombosis before confirming a diagnosis of migraine

  • Women with premenstrual migraine and migraine without aura are more likely to see an improvement in symptoms during pregnancy

  • Many therapies for treating and preventing migraines can be safely used in pregnant women

A 36 year old woman who is 17 weeks pregnant with a 15 year history of migraine presents with an episode of a frontal unilateral headache. It is associated with nausea and visual aura consisting of mainly zigzag lines. She says that this headache is similar to her usual migraines, with two other episodes during this pregnancy so far, each lasting for about five or six hours and then resolving. Clinical examination is normal, including blood pressure and urine analysis.

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Other Tips For Relieving A Headache During Pregnancy:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Sleep with extra pillows to help alleviate sinus pressure
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can trigger headaches
  • Exercise regularly to promote endorphins that may help improve mood and reduce stress

if a headache is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, avoid spicy, salty or fatty foods that may make the situation worse.

What Are Possible Complications Of Migraines

Headaches During Pregnancy: Migraine &  Pregnancy Headache ...

If you have a history of migraine headaches, and have no other health problems, migraines during pregnancy are not usually a concern.

But if a first-time migraine-like headache occurs in pregnancy, it’s important to check for any other type of condition that may be dangerous. This includes bleeding in the brain, meningitis, high blood pressure, or tumors. You may need further testing to find the cause of the headache. This testing may include urine and blood tests.

Related Specialties

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNPHeather M Trevino BSN RNCIrina Burd MD PhD

Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2021

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Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like

A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.

What Causes Headaches In Pregnancy

The exact cause of a headache isnt always clear. In the first trimester, changing hormone levels and blood volume may play a role. A dull, overall headache can come with stress, fatigue, and eyestrain. Sinus headaches may be more likely because of the nasal congestion and runny nose that are common in early pregnancy. Hunger and low levels of blood sugar can trigger headaches, too. Women who suddenly stop their morning coffee and sodas may experience caffeine withdrawal headaches. Those who also suffer with nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy can become dehydrated. This can also bring on a headache.

Migraine headaches are a common type of headache in pregnancy. These painful, throbbing headaches are usually felt on one side of the head and result from expansion of the blood vessels in the brain. The misery is sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. A small percentage of women with migraines also have an aura with the migraine. They see flashes of light or feel tingling in their arms and legs.

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How Are Migraines Diagnosed

To diagnose a migraine, your healthcare provider will get a thorough medical history, not just your history of headaches but your familys, too. Also, they’ll want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:

  • Describe your headache symptoms. How severe are they?
  • Remember when you get them. During your period, for example?
  • Describe the type and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
  • Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
  • Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
  • Talk about the activities, foods, stressors or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
  • Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
  • Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
  • Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.

Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.

When To See A Doctor

Headaches in Pregnancy | Corey Lyon, DO, Family Medicine | UCHealth

Check in with your doctor the first time you suspect you’re having a migraine. Ditto if an unexplained headache persists for more than a few hours, returns very often or is accompanied by a fever.

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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Can Pregnancy Cause Headaches

This post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission your purchase at no cost to you. Feel free to check my disclosure and terms for more info! Please note the advice on this site is general advice and you should consult a provider before making choices for yourself.

In a word, yes. Hormone changes, dehydration as well as blood pressure issues make headaches in pregnancy a frequent occurrence. But, lets dive a little bit deeper and see what you can do to prevent them, or help them when they happen.

A word of caution:If you have a persistent headache that isnt going away with rest, lots of fluids and a Tylenol you should call your provider ASAP. It could be a big problem, and well talk more about it below.

Hi, Im Hilary The Pregnancy Nurse . I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of L& D nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. Ive seen a LOT of pregnant women with headaches .

If more information about your pregnancy is something youre interested in be sure to check out my online course. I have a lot of information 3rd trimester testing in it that can help you cope with the changes youll experience.

Causes And Treatment Of Headaches During Pregnancy

Headaches are a common discomfort of pregnancy. From hormone changes to the sudden end of drinking coffee to not sleeping well, there are plenty of reasons pregnancy can bring on a headache. Headaches may be a pain in the neck but they are usually not dangerous for moms and babies. Heres what you need to know about the causes, prevention, and treatment of headaches during pregnancy.

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What Are The Different Types Of Headaches

The headaches youre suffering from while pregnant are just like the ones you can get at any other time, so its worth learning about some of the most common types. Heres a short primer to help you figure out what kind of headache you might have:

  • Tension headaches: If youre under stress, hungry or feel pain in your neck or shoulders, you could have a tension headache, which feels like a mild to moderate dull ache. Its one of the most common types.
  • Migraines: With a migraine headache, you can expect moderate to severe pain that throbs and lasts for hours or even days. Some women with migraines also experience blurred vision, light flashes, numbness and nausea.
  • Sinus headaches: Pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead plus a stuffy nose may signal a sinus headache. These typically occur with a sinus infection, but theyre also commonly confused with migraines. In both cases, the pain can get worse when you bend forward or lie down.
  • Cluster headaches: These head pains are what they sound like headaches upon headaches that start quickly and get worse, lasting for days or longer. The searing pain usually centers on one eye or affects one side of the head. The good news: Cluster headaches are rare, especially in women compared to men.
  • Chronic headaches: If youre getting headaches on more than half of the days in any given month, they could be considered chronic. This includes migraines and other headache types chronic just refers to how frequently they happen.

Pregnancy Can Have A Significant Impact On Migraine Symptoms And How Women Should Treat Them Heres What Experts Have To Say

How To Get Rid Of Migraines During Pregnancy

First, the good news: Between 50 and 80% of pregnant migraine patients actually experience a reduction in migraine attacks during their pregnancy, according to David Dodick, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Arizona. Many doctors believe rising estrogen levels help reduce migraine frequency and intensity. Hormone replacement therapy that mimics pregnancys effect on the body is increasingly being used in migraine treatment plans, especially for those who experience migraines around the time of menstruation. Caution does need to be used however in women who have migraines with aura, as the increased risk of stroke may further be increased by the addition of an estrogen-containing oral contraceptive pill.

However, some women experience migraine for the first time during pregnancy and some experience an increase in migraine symptoms especially during the first trimester. The appearance or worsening of migraine in pregnant women should be taken very seriously: Studies show that migraine symptoms, when accompanied by high blood pressure, can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia or other vascular complications. Women whose migraine symptoms dont decrease during pregnancy should be particularly vigilant. Its important to work with your obstetrician and your headache doctor when you have migraine to establish a safe treatment plan.

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What Do I Do If I Have A Migraine In Pregnancy

If youve never had a migraine call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit. Serious conditions like pre-eclampsia can be like a migraine, so although its unlikely anything is wrong, your healthcare team may want to see you.

If you have always had migraines, you may find that they get better during your pregnancy. But pregnancy can also change the nature of migraines, so if you have a migraine that feels different to what youve had before, call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit.

Natural Remedies For Pregnancy Migraines:

During the first three months the symptoms of pregnancy can make your migraine worse. Morning sickness can mean that you feel like eating and drinking less which can cause low blood sugar and dehydration. If you are not careful this can make your migraines worse. You should try to eat small frequent meals and drink frequent small amounts of water to prevent this. You will also be helping reduce any pregnancy sickness. Other remedies may include:

  • Dark Room Often, a migraine can make you sensitive to bright lights. Find a dark room, and turn off any electronics.
  • Nap Lying down to take a short nap can help alleviate migraines. Many people report that an hour nap is often enough to stop the pain.
  • Cold Pack While lying down, place a cold pack or damp towel on your head. The cold should constrict blood vessels in your head and help alleviate the pain.
  • Relaxation Techniques Talk to your doctor about relaxation exercises that are safe during pregnancy. Relaxing the muscles around your back, neck, and head can release the pressure causing the migraine.
  • Take care of yourself Sometimes, migraines can be set off by dehydration, tiredness, not eating well, or lack of sleep. Try to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, which can help mitigate the symptoms of migraines.

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What Are Migraine Headaches

Vascular headaches, a group that includes migraine, are thought to involve abnormal function of the brain’s blood vessels or vascular system. The most common type of vascular headache is a migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by the following:

  • Severe pain on one or both sides of the head

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Disturbed vision and intolerance to light

People who get migraine headaches seem to have blood vessels that overreact to various triggers, which may include the following:

  • Stress and other emotions

  • Certain foods

Is It Safe To Take Ibuprofen During Pregnancy

Warning Signs – Headaches During Pregnancy

Unless your doctor specifically approves it, avoid products containing aspirin or ibuprofen as they could negatively impact you and your baby. In the early stages of pregnancy, ibuprofen may increase your chances of miscarriage. During the third trimester, it can hamper your babys heart and lung development. Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also tend to prolong labor and increase the risk of bleeding.

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How Is Migraine Treated In The Postpartum Period

No particular problems arise for women with migraine around the time of the birth. Postpartum headache is common, occurring in about 34% of women. It is most common during days 3 to 6 postpartum and is associated with a personal history or family history of migraine. Postpartum headache, although usually less severe than patients typical migraine, is usually bifrontal, prolonged, and associated with photophobia, nausea, and anorexia.

No direct data exist to establish that any particular triggers are worse than others in the postpartum period. In the absence of a specific contraindication such as coronary or cerebrovascular disease, sumatriptan by injection is an ideal way to deal with disabling migraine in this period, even for breastfeeding women. Preventive agents can be reintroduced during breast feeding. Table 2 lists the current options for prevention and the level of recommendation as classified by the US Food and Drug Administration and TERIS .

How Frequent Are Migraines During Pregnancy

The incidence and reoccurrence of migraine attacks in women vary widely. Some of them experience for the first time in pregnancy, while some women experience increasing migraine symptoms during the first trimester.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, around 50 to 80% of pregnant women experience reduced attacks . This reduction in symptoms is attributed to the increasing levels of estrogen during pregnancy.

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What Can I Do About Headaches

Steps to manage headaches include the following:

  • Avoid any known headache triggers, including allergens and certain foods, like monosodium glutamate, cured meats, and strong cheeses.

  • Smoking is never a good idea in pregnancy. You should also avoid secondhand smoke.

  • Try to eat well and drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are prone to morning sickness.

  • Reduce your stress level. Try a massage or cold pack to help with tension headaches.

  • If your headache is a migraine, rest in a cool, dark room with no noise, and try using warm or cold compresses or an ice pack.

There is good news, however. Most women have fewer headaches during pregnancy, especially after the first trimester. And those with a history of migraines often find there is improvement during pregnancy.

Migraine Treatment During Pregnancy

Pin on Pregnancy

For safe, effective relief of migraines during pregnancy, consider using acetaminophen. In the U.S., 70 percent of pregnant women take acetaminophen. Using it in moderation is considered safe during pregnancy.

Natural remedies for migraines include placing a cold compress on your forehead, lying down in a dark room, and getting as much rest as possible.

However, some studies have reported a link between long-term acetaminophen use and ADHD in babies. So if you suffer from chronic migraines and prefer to steer clear of medications altogether, non-drug treatment options are available.

Natural remedies for migraines include placing a cold compress on your forehead, lying down in a dark room, and getting as much rest as possible. Maintain stable meal and sleep patterns, and try to avoid common triggers. Consider keeping a migraine diary to identify triggers such as emotional stress or eating chocolate or aged cheeses.

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Treating Headaches During Pregnancy

Pregnant women must avoid over-the-counter medicines all of them are not harmful, but too many of them can cause problems. Medications used for treating headaches or migraines affect the uterus and penetrate the placenta, which can harm the baby, and for this reason, most women bear the pain.

However, persistent headaches during pregnancy or recurring migraines might be a cause for concern and you must consult a doctor. The type of relief you need depends on an accurate diagnosis. You may have to undergo some tests such as a physical exam or x-rays, and the doctor will collect your medical history to understand what is causing the migraines and headaches or triggering them.

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