I think I’m finally getting used to my new home’s barometric pressure fluctuations, but man are they doing a number on my thoughtbox. Intracranial hypertension causes some pretty brutal brain pain even without help, so the added swings in air pressure just make everything that much worse.
Rainy days aren’t the only things that make my head hurt, though. While intracranial hypertension symptoms include a pretty much constant headache as it is, several different things can trigger bouts of agonizing pain. These can include:
- Too much salt.
- Medications that trigger an increase in CSF pressure, including common OTC drugs like ibuprofen.
- Tyramine, an amino acid abundantly found in preserved meats. While a low tyramine diet hasn’t been shown to cure intracranial hypertension, some people’s symptoms are improved by limiting their intake.
- Staying up too late.
- Inverted postures.
This list is by no means complete. Every person’s triggers are a little bit different, which is why it’s good to keep a journal of what you eat, what the weather’s like, where you are on your hormonal cycle (if applicable), and so on. This will help you identify patterns in your pain, which will give you a way to help limit it as much as you’re able to.
The trouble is, none of that is going to help you much if you’re already in agony. I’ve put together a list of things that help me survive the days when I’m convinced my brainmeats are trying to squeeze out of the back of my head like so much toothpaste. Try:
- Using an ice pack where it hurts. For me, that’s almost always right at the base of my skull.
- Using a heating pad where it hurts. Some days are ice pack days, some days are heating pad days. Try putting one on. If it makes you feel worse or doesn’t give you any relief, try the other.
- Laying propped up at an angle. Sturdy wedge pillows are pretty much the bomb for this, but any decent pillow-pile with some structural integrity will do. What you want to do here is allow yourself to get comfortable, but still keep your head elevated enough to encourage your cerebrospinal fluid to drain.
- Drinking cold drinks. If you’re experiencing nausea, try cold ginger or peppermint tea. Ginger ale works too, just make sure real ginger appears on the ingredient list. A lot of commercial sodas only use an insignificant amount, too little to be of real benefit.
- Applying some headache balm to your temples, behind your ears, and wherever else you’re hurting. I have some Narayan gel (cooling herbal muscle rub) that I use for headaches, and it’s amazing.
- Trying some white noise, especially if you have pulsatile tinnitus. I find my tinnitus really disorienting sometimes, and the loud *WHOOSH!* *WHOOSH!* constantly pounding in my ears makes it really difficult to relax. I don’t know how well binaural beats work for other people with IH, but the video below seems to help me relax and ease (some of) my pain:
And, above all, rest. If your symptoms persist or get worse, go to the emergency room if you have to– sometimes emergency lumbar punctures are a necessity in that situation.
Good luck, and here’s hoping for more pain-free days for everybody!