I don’t know what’s harder, being a mom or living with migraine. Having both can be overwhelming. Over the years, as a stay-at-home mom of two and chronic migraine fighter, I have learned to adapt my life and my children’s lives to migraine. I alter my family’s schedule around my children’s naps, meals and moods, while also keeping in mind my migraine attacks, sensitivities, triggers and abilities.
Severe side effects are very rare but can happen if the botulinum toxin unexpectedly spreads throughout the body from the site of the shots. This can cause muscle weakness, hoarseness or trouble talking, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids. The breathing and swallowing problems can be life-threatening. If this happens, seek medical attention right away.

Why Botox works isn’t completely clear. There’s some evidence that it may reduce the production of neurotransmitters related to pain in the areas where it’s injected. There’s also some evidence that it may have a broader effect on the brain’s pain centers, reducing the sensitivity that causes migraine sufferers to react to migraine triggers. While the exact mechanisms are poorly understood, the studies, as well as many of my patients’ experiences, do show a real benefit for many people.

If you think either of the FDA-approved anti-CGRP treatments might be right for you, speak with your primary health care provider, neurologist or headache specialist. If your medical provider isn’t aware of the treatments, don’t be afraid to let him or her know about them, or ask for a referral to a local neurologist or headache specialist. This is just the first step in advocating for the care that you deserve. To find a headache specialist in your area, consult our Find a Doctor tool. Dr. Starling believes that every person with migraine should be involved in advocacy, in order to bring awareness to the disease and break the stigma that surrounds it. She recommends that patients living with migraine get involved in advocacy organizations, such as our Move Against Migraine support community. You can also attend the annual Headache on the Hill event in which patients and providers go to Capitol Hill asking for more National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding for migraine and other headache disorders. The next Headache on the Hill event is planned for February 11-12, 2019. Within the coming weeks, the American Migraine Foundation will be compiling a guide to all three anti-CGRP treatments. For additional information on anti-CGRP migraine treatment options, consult our doctor-verified resource library.

Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, and trouble swallowing.

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