What kinds of headaches can lupus cause?

A Answers (1)

  • People with lupus can suffer from non-lupus migraine headaches as well as lupus headaches.

    About 20 percent of people with lupus also suffer from migraine-like headaches. These non-lupus migraines can be treated with a migraine prevention diet. This diet calls for avoiding certain foods and over-the-counter medications.

    Foods to avoid if suffering from these headaches include:

    Caffeine - Coffee, tea, soda
    •Cheese - Avoid all cheeses except American, cream, and cottage cheese. Avoid cheese-containing foods such as pizza and macaroni-and-cheese.
    •Monosodium glutamate (MSG) - This ingredient is in Chinese restaurant food, many snack foods and prepared foods, and seasoning products.
    •Sour cream
    •Nuts - All, including nut butters (e.g., peanut butter).
    •Processed meats - Including aged, canned, cured, marinated, tenderized, or contain nitrates or nitrites, like hot dogs, sausage, bacon, salami, bologna.
    •Alcohol and vinegar
    •Citrus fruits and juices - Including oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, pineapples, or juices from these fruits.
    •Red plums
    •Canned figs
    •Lima, fava, and navy beans
    •Pea pods
    •Yeast - risen bread products less than one day old.
    •Aspartame (Nutrasweet)

    Over-the-Counter medications to avoid if suffering from these headaches include:

    Caffeine-containing medications like Excedrin®, Anacin®
    "Sinus" or decongestant medications - These include Actifed®, Sudafed®, Dimetapp®, Sine-Aid®, and Dristan®

    If diet alone is insufficient in treating these headaches, medication such as notriptyline can be taken to reduce the frequency and severity.

    True lupus headaches are different from these migraines. An active flare-up of lupus usually causes them, and a doctor will need to perform one of the following tests to diagnose it:

    Lumbar puncture - This is a spinal tap, in which the doctor inserts a needle into the space in the lower part of the spine, called the subarachnoid space, to remove cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for examination. CSF is the liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and protects them from injury. CSF contains a variety of substances that help regulate the nervous system.
    Blood vessel study - This includes an x-ray of the blood vessels.

    A true lupus headache usually requires corticosteroids for treatment.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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