Homecoping strategiesMigraines From Dyslexia?

This morning, my head started hurting, the sight in my left eye faded, dizziness set in, I had a hard time doing things with my hands and my face began tingling. Yes, folks, I got a visit from the jack hammering migraine gnomes!

They’re scary things if you don’t know what’s happening. 

What Are Migraine Symptoms?
Many folks tend to think migraines are just really bad headaches, but they’re actually far more than that. Here are some common symptoms that go with the horrendous pain:

  • Pain is usually on one side of the head
  • Vision problems – partial to complete blindness in one or both eyes, flashing lights, patterns or inanimate objects look like they’re moving, colored spots (Who needs LSD when you can have a migraine?)
  • Tingling or numbness in face, hands or other parts of the body
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Poor word recall
  • Difficulty using hands
  • Dizziness
  • Light, sound, smell and tactile hyper-sensitivity

Some people get warning signs, like flashing lights, a few days before the actual migraine.

If the pain is sudden, severe or you don’t know what’s causing it, get to the emergency room as soon as possible. A lot of these symptoms also coincide with stroke, and that’s nothing to mess around with. It’s much better to know what’s going on than to risk it.

Dyslexia Doesn’t Cause Migraines
In addition to the whole unpleasantness, migraines make my dyslexia next to impossible to handle. Even though it’s mostly gone now, I’m still having some trouble hitting the right keys.

Although this one wasn’t triggered by reading, I’ve heard from many dyslexics that they end up with terrible headaches after reading for so long. Naturally, I decided to look up potential links once I started to feel a little better.

I didn’t find any studies, and although there are some people who think there may be a connection, it’s doubtful that there’s much of a medically based link between migraines and dyslexia. Dyslexia, in and of itself, doesn’t cause migraines.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the stress associated with reading could trigger a migraine, or at least a headache, in a dyslexic.

These are some of the things that tend to happen when someone struggles to read for too long:

  • Eye strain from the constant focus on text on a usually white back ground
  • Neck strain from the natural tendency to lean closer to the text
  • Fatigue from the work involved in reading

All three of these are triggers for many different types of headaches, migraine included. If you also take the greater likelihood of sensory processing issues into account, that can open up a whole new can of worms.

I did see a couple of articles stating that Irlen lenses may help relieve or prevent migraine headache. That doesn’t seem very far fetched to me, actually.

When I used to work in an office, I’d end up wearing sun glasses inside to relieve some of the light sensitivity associated with migraine, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if tinted lenses helped avoid that symptom for some people.

Migraines Can Make Dyslexia Worse
Although the fact a person has dyslexia probably won’t make them more likely to get migraines, when a migraine strikes, dyslexia symptoms can get worse. This is especially true if there are visual symptoms associated with the migraine.

Right now, for example, reading anything for more than a few moments at a time is very difficult for me. My eyes are fully functional, but the aftermath of the migraine is still messing with my perceptions. When the headache was still at full blast, looking at text made me nauseous, though that had less to do with dyslexia and more to do with the other symptoms.

What To Do For Migraines
Whether the suffer has dyslexia or not, there are a few things to do if they have a migraine.

  • Offer them a quiet spot to lie down
  • Either darken the room or offer a cool compress to put over their eyes, if they can tolerate it
  • If they have medication, offer to get it for them, along with some water
  • Coffee is surprisingly helpful, as is Excedrin Migraine
  • Keep the area as fragrance free as possible, since smells can trigger nausea or worsen symptoms

If migraine frequency or severity increases, it’s best to get checked out by a doctor. If the headaches are causing damage, or there’s a structural problem, the earlier you can address it, the better.

Finally, if you are just getting over a migraine and know reading can be a trigger for another, don’t do what I’m doing right now. Take it easy and let symptoms fade completely before turning that computer on or picking up that book.

Now, where are my therapy cats? I need some cuddles.

Here’s one. Right where I left him – in his favorite Guinness box.

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