Headache, vomit, feel better

I sometimes get headaches that are whoppers of intense pain. When I get one of those I also get sick to my stomach and the pain will actually cause me to puke. Most of the time after I vomit, the headache will either becomes alot less intense and sometimes even go away altogether.

Why is that?

I know this is no substitute for seeing a doctor, but the headaches are rare and usually caused by eye strain (looking too long at computer screen) or a pinched nerve in my back (gonna have that one for awhile, seen doctor, physical therapist, etc)[/sub]

Headaches that make you vomit aren’t common from eyestrain. If you were my daughter/friend/sister/mother, I’d get you to a neurologist. A headache that’s relieved by vomiting is a scary thing. Even if it’s stress, it’s not right.

Your symptoms don’t sound like mine, but here’s an anecdote:

I’ve suffered from migraines since I was about 3 years old. They’ve tapered off greatly since puberty (not uncommon for early migraine sufferers) to once or twice a year. They started with light sensitivity and the feling of an “aura” (no better way to describe it) that indicated the headache was coming. One of the common occurrences was eventual vomiting from the unbearable pain, followed by unconsciousness (sleep), after which I was better, if extremely fragile and light-sensitive.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be you’ve developed a migraine condition. Even if not, you’ve got something potentially serious going on, and you need a doctor.

I’d see a neurologist just to be sure, but i agree with deb it sounds like migraine. nausea and vomiting are common with migraines. Oliver Sacks wrote an entire book on migraine and i remember he mentions offhand at one point people whose migraine disappears after vomiting. The book catalogues every bizarre and obscure phenomena associated with migraine, though, so i dunno how common it is.

I usually get migraines without nausea. But when I do get nausea I know that it tends to reach a crescendo where I either throw up or feel like throwing up just before I get better. And when my migraines resolve they usually get better (the pain part anyway) very quickly. So maybe all that’s happening is a sudden resolution of your migraine after it peaks. The fact that you vomit at the peak of your migraine doesn’t necessarily mean vomiting causes the pain to go away. Just a thought. And that’s assuming you are having migraines. See a doc I guess.

As a former migraine sufferer and a close friend of person who still gets them, you sound like you’ve got a migraine condition.

Assuming you’re female, you are more likely to suffer from them than men. There was a lengthy piece about them in the LA Times on 10/8/01.

Go see a doctor, but there are no quick fixes, but it’s best to get checked out to make sure nothing else is wrong.

My migraines went away because I got them as a child and they peaked during puberty. Once I got out of college, they disappeared. But when I had them the pattern went, headache, nausea accompanied by decreased headache, puking, return of headache with a vengeance for about an hour, and then a very very very very long sleep.

Yes, I have the same issue. I feel loads better after I vomit. I think it might be because when you are building up towards vomiting, your body is tensed and stressed, and this is exacerbating your muscle tension, and thus your headache.

I get migraines occasionally, and one of my friends who gets them very regularly explained that it is all to with blood supply to the brain (as told him by his doctor, so sorry if there’s any inaccuracies in here).

The basic premise is that the blood vessels in the brain constrict for no known reason (this is why people on beta-blockers for other conditions do not get migraines). The brain reacts to the decreased blood (& oxygen) supply by producing a feeling of pain, and by shutting down non-essential systems, to divert blood back to the rest of the body & by ordering the blood vessels to open up.

At this stage, you’ll have a hell of a headache, and feel really nauseous - you may or may not vomit. This is due to the fact that the digestive system is considered a non-core system (the same process happens to a lesser degree when you are scared/nervous, the adrenalin shuts down the digestion temporarily, producing those butterfly in tummy feelings). Shutting down the digestion also relieves the load on the liver, and that is a major system, receiving a lot of blood. Anyway, whether or not you vomit at this stage, the brain is already entering the next phase - a more normal-feeling (though often still incredibly intense), headache.

This is due to the opposite reason - it now has too much blood going to it, and so it produces a higher pressure (sorry, best way for me to describe it, I’m sure there’s a more technically accurate term) which stresses the brain cells.

As the brain gets its blood supply balanced and under control, the pain from the over-reaction gradually goes away and your other systems start to open up again, allowing you to start to feel hungry instead of nauseous, etc.

Migraines are often increased in frequency by stress, or triggered by a reaction to some chemical. Technically it isn’t an allergy, as allergies involve a histo-immune response, but rather a migraine trigger. Most people will know what you mean though, if you were to say “I’m allergic to chocolate, it gives me migraines”. It is worth looking closely at what you have eaten at times that the migraines come on and avoiding the food if there is a common factor.

If migraines persist or are very frequent, there is a drug that can be prescribed, which stops the brain doing the complete shutdown, complete opening up response, which prevents the nausea and long recovery. It can be given orally (if taken in time before the nausea onsets), or injected. I don’t know the name of it, but since causes of migraines are many and varied, I’d recommend seeing your physician anyway.

Not always. I get migraines. My regular doctor put me on atenolol (a beta blocker) to try and cut down the frequency of the attacks. I started out at 25 mgs. daily, increasing in 25 mg. increments, until I was taking 200 mgs. daily. I finally went to see a neurologist, and he had me stop taking it, since it wasn’t working as intended.

Yes, indeedy. I know for certain that some foods will trigger a migraine. Red wine, sourdough bread, avacado (and guacamole), carrots, and raw peanuts do it for me.

Imitrex, the wonder drug. I tried the pills (threw them back up) and the nasal spray (didn’t always work right) and now have the injection form. It works very well for me. I was really scared of giving myself an injection, but it’s one of those auto-inject pen thingys, and was not as bad as I thought it would be.
[sub]posting from work, gotta get the heck outta here, be back later[/sub]

Thanks for the info. It is nice to know that I am not a rare sufferer. I do know that the pinch nerve (in the wing area of the back) is exacerbated by stress and that when the pain in my pinch nerve is alot, my headache is terrible. But it is the price of growing older (after that line I feel 200 years old–I should start a thread “ask the Civil War surviver”).

And the answers make sense. I was figuring that it could possibly be because I think that throwing up will help me, and thus the brain causes that to happen. But it makes more sense that this is the culmination of the pain sequence.

Thanks also for the concern. I have had this since I was a teenager and it has been many moons since I saw those years. It also only occurs about every six to nine months and the frequency nor the severity has increased in that time.

Hopefully this question and answers helps others.


My migraine history is identical to Cap’n Crude’s. My doctor speculated that the nausea might be your body thinking that the cause of your headache is food poisoning. It tries to protect itself by making you vomit to get rid of the poison. I dunno, sounds like bullshit to me.

I also get these types of migraines…though mine are related to my menstrual cycle. Switching to a low dose BCP has made a huge difference, though I still get 2 or 3 yearly.

I don’t get auras, but do get sensitivity to light and sound. They do not go away until I vomit and forcing myself to vomit doesn’t work either…I’ve tried. I always end up on the bathroom floor, head pressed to the tile, praying to puke.

You have my sympathy, my dear.

When I was young I had migraines, and I am also allergic to peanuts. I throw up with both migraines and with peanuts. I can say that the feeling with a migraine is completely different from the allergy. When I could resolve the migraine by vomiting (anout half the occurences) it was much more like very very very VERY bad motion sickness- I had the feeling of spinning or falling, which got faster and faster until I hurled, and then it was over in very short order. On the occurences when I did not get the “vomit” aura, I developed the regular eye-centered migraine headache which lasted for a long time. My migraines lasted from the age of three or four until junior high, and as I got older, they shifted from mostly headache migraines to mostly vomit migraines. I’d choose vomit any day.
OTOH, if I get a peanut, the vomiting involves bad cramping in my esophagus and stomach, and is very much more “localized.”
So I agree that your doctor’s idea is bullshit. I think if s/he had said that the dizziness from the aura reminds your body of vertigo or carsickness, s/he’d be more on the right track. JDM

I get exactly the same deal: migrane, barf, feel better after a while. Sometimes it seems to be associated with sinus or allergy triggered (or related?) migranes. Often times, the barfing is so intense that I crash out for hours afterwards. It seems to me that relief is not instant, but gradual. Definitely, they are migranes, though. There are the auras, the literally blinding head pain, the whole thing.

I am glad to see I am not alone in this, although as I am sure others will say we wish no one had to go through it.

As I am both the President of the Migraine Club and a Member, I can say that nausea/vomiting is common in migraine. Other gastrointestinal symptoms are also common.

I’d recommend seeing a neurologist, just to be sure. Heck, I need all the referrals I can get…

My God, I was on 5o mg per day for high sytolic reaings and my pulse dropped to 48 bpm. I’m almost afraid to ask what 200 mgs per day did to your pulse – 20 bpm?

I don’t know. (I know, I should)
I’ve always had low blood pressure, and when I got up to about 150 mgs., I definitely felt rather lethargic, sluggish, whatever. (Kind of a lazy feeling. No energy to do anything).
My mother and MIL are both on 25 mgs. for HBP, and were amazed I was taking so much.
I do feel better (more active) now that I’m am off of it.

In my clinical experience, non-selective beta-blockers, like propranalol, work better for migraine than “cardioselective” beta-blockers, like atenolol.

The long-acting agent works better than the short-acting ones. Propranolol LA is available in 60mg capsules. The side effects: mental depression, bronchospasm, etc., are also greater with propranolol.

When I was a child I had serious migraines, probably twice or three times a week. Same symptoms as the rest of you - intense pain, nausea, vomiting, then almost instant relief.

My grandfather had them as a child, and always reassured me that as I got older they would go away. And sure enough, they did. I still get the odd headache, but I haven’t had a migraine in 20 years.

I’m pretty sure that real Migraine headaches are related to epilepsy. The ‘aura’ is the same that some epileptics see before a seizure. I found this out because I’m a pilot, and migraines can be a disqualifying condition for an aviation medical.

Wow . . Exactly the same thing here also . . . I used to think that the nausea was a normal part of the headache experience! There have been countless times when I actually force myself to eat, knowing that I will probably vomit, yet feel MUCH better (gross, I know . . and probably not very healthy either). Also, going to bed right afterwards, in a completely dark room, usually guarantees complete relief . . .

I have had headaches as far back as I can remember . . many times I remember lying in the nurses office waiting for the school day to end so I could go home . . dreading the bus ride home . . afraid I would get sick . . or the many family day vacations ruined because “Gui has a headache”.

I still get them . . . probably at least once a week . . as difficult as it is to comprehend, I never considered the possibility that I was suffering from migraines until recently [most of the independent research I had done seemed to state that migraines most often affect women and often can last for more than a day, which was rarely the case with me (or not the case with the woman part :D)].

Thanks to all for the advice . . . now I won’t feel silly seeing a doctor for what I always thought of as a part of normal life.