A new year means a new you! Ok maybe not new, but you might be ready for a change. You may be in a constant 24/7 cycle of dizziness from your vestibular migraines and are desperate for a break. Or perhaps you are starting to see some breaks, little glimmers of hope, but then get hit with a nasty vertigo attack. Here are a few tips that have helped me with my vestibular migraines along the way.
1. Don’t hesitate to change doctors.
Whether you’ve been trialing meds and getting nowhere, or feel like you are not connecting with your physician, it’s time to re-evaluate. Is your doctor only spending 15 minutes with you and doing most of the talking? Or do you feel like you do all the talking, showing them the notes of your migraine days and symptoms, without much response. If you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere with the doctor you are seeing after at least 2 months (or earlier), it’s time to start the search. Sometimes doctors reach the limit of their expertise when it comes to vestibular disorders and sadly they will not be the first to admit it.
It’s important to be open minded in this search. There are some great ENT’s that know more about vestibular migraine than neurologists. There are neurologists that are better than ENT’s. There’s actually a doctor who specializes in vestibular disorders called a NeuroTologist. If one isn’t available in your area, call offices to see if that particular neurologist or ENT is experienced with vestibular disorders like vestibular migraine.
Feel free to reach out to me, to VeDA, or even post in Migraine Strong or the Vestibular Disorders Support Group if you need help locating a new doctor.
The only exception to this rule is if you’ve found a doctor that you trust and you’re trialing meds. You must give your body a few weeks to adjust to new medications or supplements, and these changes take time. Vestibular migraines cannot be cured overnight. However, if you’re stuck in a 24/7 cycle 6 months later and still doing the same things, it’s time for a change.
See this guide to get you started.
2. Try a new supplement.
There are certain supplements that are recommended for all types of migraine, including vestibular migraines. Let’s say you’ve been on magnesium glycinate a few months now and have zero improvement. Do a little research on another type that might be a better fit for you. Or if you’ve been on supplements you enjoy, but are looking for something even better, do a little experimentation (with the ok from your doctor).
For instance, I was doing well on magnesium glycinate, but I still had lingering brain fog in the mornings. I did a little research and decided to add magnesium threonate to my morning routine. It helped my foggy head so much better than I expected, almost as if I had a cup of coffee. Now I take a combination each day. For more information on this, see this post.
Some good ones to research that have been recommended by Johns Hopkins are B2, Magnesium (in different forms), CoQ10, Feverfew, Butterbur (be cautious with this one), and Melatonin.
If you’re noticing your vestibular migraine attacks coincide with hormonal changes, your OBGYN may be able to offer some helpful insight. Maca powder and chasteberry were two supplements I tried when coming off of birth control and I found them helpful with regulating my cycle and the dizziness associated with changes.
3. Commit to a migraine diet, any diet.
The recipes on The Dizzy Cook are all Heal Your Headache compliant, with some gluten free options, but it’s not a magic cure for everyone. If you’ve been following a certain diet for around 4-6 months and haven’t noticed any inkling of a change, it’s a good time to re-evaluate.
Or if you’ve been on a migraine diet for 6 months now and have noticed a large improvement, but still wonder if it could get better, look into other options. For instance, I had great success with HYH and stayed on it for about 6-8 months before reintroducing some foods. At that point, I still wondered if my vestibular migraines could be lowered further so I eliminated gluten for about 5 months. I didn’t notice a difference for me personally, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be the key for you. Dairy, gluten, and refined sugars all have been linked to increasing inflammation in the body. This could be because the individual has a sensitivity to it.
There are lots of diets out there that claim they can help you with migraine attacks, but if you’re looking for diets that have specifically been formulated for migraine patients, check out Heal Your Headache, The Charleston Diet, and keto for migraine. More information and (free!) help with all these diets can be found at the Migraine Strong Facebook Group.
If you’re just getting started on Heal Your Headache, check out some of these posts to get you going.
4. Decide this is the year you will not let this rule your life.
It’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in how terrible we feel. Vestibular Migraine naturally lends itself to anxiety that we never experienced previously. Perhaps you’re afraid to leave the house for fear of an attack? Or maybe living in constant fear has kept you to yourself and fostered depression. It is so easy to fall into this pit of despair (reminds me of this classic).
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, I recommend finding a counselor you really connect with who can help you with goal setting. Having the mindset that you will not let this rule your life can help you get out of that “depression” phase and step into the “do anything and everything to help yourself” phase. If I’ve learned one thing from this site over the past year, it’s that there are people who are desperate to feel better and will be open to anything that is suggested.
There are also those who like to complain about how hard this is and never listen to advice. It’s the former ones who always update me that they are feeling better after a few months. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help.
As someone who laid on the couch straight for a month cursing my old employer, crying, and telling myself I was worthless, it’s a waste of time and leads to nothing positive.
5. Find a passion outside of work and migraine
Do you even know what that passion is? This can be a part of goal setting that’s discussed above.
If you have no idea, try adult coloring books (don’t laugh, I did this!), knitting, cooking, baking, meditation, a new sport, or volunteering. If you can’t drive, look into organizations that need help with online documents. I found several small dog rescues that needed help with calling potential families or uploading pictures to social media. Working on a volunteer basis is both fulfilling and you can set clear hours.
I had no idea what to do with my life right after I lost my career in watch development at Fossil. All I really had was vestibular migraine…and I liked to cook. I used to take ballet when I was younger, so I looked into classes that I could handle. Most studios are very accommodating to illnesses if you let them know ahead of time. They can help you modify movements to keep you steady.
The Vestibular Disorder Association would love to have you on their team, whether it’s making calls to new members, creating social media posts, or helping with paperwork. They will make sure to cater to your physical needs.