The Evil Calcium Headache

Ok, I’m back in the land of the living. I can’t describe the last week adequately. I considered going to the ER about once every ten minutes, but I knew they’d want to do a lumbar puncture and I knew I wouldn’t let them (because of aforementioned LP that didn’t heal properly), so I stayed put in bed. Head pain, I think, is the most debilitating pain there is. It takes away all your senses. You can’t open your eyes to light, you can’t move your eyes up and down because it hurts too much, you can’t stand noise, you can’t chew, you can’t stand people touching you or talking to you… you can’t even be upright. At least with most of my back pain I can watch TV. The other day, I was talking to my husband on the phone, telling him how bad the pain was on the right side of my head. As we spoke, I felt it zig zag over to the left. It was bizarre. It was like I could feel a little pain worm traveling through my brain to the other side. I had just said, Thank god half my head is out of pain~ it makes it more bearable. As I finished the sentence, the pain had completely switched sides. That night, the pain radiated down into the right side of my jaw for about an hour. Yesterday, it was pretty much gone except a residual cramping. Every time I tensed something ~ coughed or pushed my pee out too quickly ~ the right side of my head would light up. It was like somebody blowing on embers. It would erupt into fire briefly and then go back to smoldering again.

Now, here’s the kicker. I realise it makes sense to say it’s another unexplainable symptom of ME or it’s because I came off the pill or it was just a ridiculously bad migraine, but I’m pretty sure it was from my calcium supplement. That was the only thing that changed. I started taking powdered calcium citrate in OJ, thinking I was being so responsible. My husband was googling help for me and saw that too much calcium and too little magnesium can cause headaches. Then I found this site. If you don’t want to read all the comments like I did, I’ll sum it up: one person after another saying their calcium supplement caused terrible headaches. Many of them saying they got the worst headache of their lives and that it was all on one side. Mine was invading my entire head for many of the days, but it was certainly only the right side the last two days. YOU FOUND THE CAUSE! I whispered to my husband, but my eyes said block capitals like that: YOU SAVED ME! The pain started to ease up a day after I stopped the calcium and it was gone two days later. Be warned, everyone! Especially if you have one of these sensitive systems (a blessing and a curse).

Now my dilemma is how to keep my bones strong since I have osteopenia, don’t eat dairy, don’t do weight-bearing exercise, I’m petite and had hyperthyroidism for years (the latter two my doc said contributed to osteopenia in the first place. The dairy and exercise, obviously, are omitted because of ME). Honestly, though, I’m not touching a calcium supplement for a while. I’d rather live in the now without a headache.

I’m grateful I don’t have a headache!!!!!!

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17 thoughts on “The Evil Calcium Headache

  1. Jenny Bolton says:

    Leafy greens, leafy greens, leafy greens. Great source of calcium. Learn to love broccilli if you don’t already. Always have a tupperware full of steamed broccolli in the fridge for snacking. Experiment with making your own dipping sauces. Oh, and add as much turmeric to your life as you can. Such a great anti inflammatory.

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  2. Anna says:

    I’m grateful you don’t have a headache too! And I actually could tell you were feeling better just from your text this morning, even though it didn’t say anything about how you were feeling.

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  3. I got muscle aches from calcium supplement, which I only started to take because I won it in a contest and didn’t want it to go to waste. 😛 I was able to figure out the cause after a few weeks, knowing that calcium contributes to muscle contractions (CFS/ME doesn’t cause me muscle aches). But to think that calcium pills are even used as placebo in some studies!

    Many people think that if you don’t eat dairy you need calcium supplements, but this is nothing but dairy industry propaganda. 😛 People in Asia manage just fine and have far less osteoporosis than in the west (except for India, where they do eat dairy and the osteoporosis situation is getting really bad). There are some theories that it can even worsen bones in the long run.

    The best ways to keep bones strong, besides exercise, are vitamin D, vitamin K2 and strontium. All of these may even reverse osteopenia. Boron can help too.

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  4. Curiosity says:

    I’m SO glad to hear that you managed to find the cause!

    I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve taken or eaten that were supposed to be “totally fine” for every human on the planet, but caused terrible side effects for me. Small bits of zinc give me crazy vertigo, even if I’m just eating it from food sources. I’m so glad that you managed to connect your calcium to this one and give you some relief.

    I’ve been lucky with Calcium supplements. But I also take a crap load of magnesium plus additional magnesium skin spray and Epsom salts baths, so I imagine that’s part of it. I’m really glad, because I have no idea how long it would have taken me to figure out a calcium connection.

    Anyway, I’m rejoicing on your behalf.

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  5. […] for those of you that have tried to contact me. I’m okay. Not great, but okay. After the Worst Headache, I had an up-swing for two weeks, feeling like I had more energy, less pain, more mobility and JOY. […]

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  6. […] and debilitating symptom of this disease. I’ve written about them before here and here and here. Don’t get me wrong, PEM is by far the most disabling and cruel aspect of ME (I will write a […]

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  7. […] Now Foods calcium citrate = worst headache of my life […]

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  8. annebirdlady says:

    I am so glad i am not the only ME sufferer to experience calcium headaches! I have osteoporosis in my spine & osteopenia in my left hip, after an awkward fall i broke my femur & my wrist so my daughter got me a calcium & vit D supplement. I am recovering apart from awful headaches, glad i know cause now. thank you xx

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    • I am so sorry about your fall! I have osteopenia on the brink of osteoporosis, which, as I’m sure you know, is very scary when I’m immobilised by ME. The headaches from calcium were the worst I’ve ever had and I’ve been hospitalised with headaches before, so I know bad head pain! I’m now taking vitamin K2 along with D3 for my bones.

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  9. Mark says:

    I get the same violent, life-altering headache from Calcium Citrate as well…Though perhaps obvious…the issue is the CITRIC ACID.

    There are more than one form of Citric Acid….(Naturally Derived and Lab-Synthesized (i.e. fermented from mold))

    I get the SAME headache from many, many foods that have Citric acid as a perservative/additive.

    Benzoic Acid and other additives have a similar effect for me as well.

    Google: “Citric Acid Intolerance”…..it might keep you 100% headache free…as it has me,

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  10. Karen Guendjoian says:

    I have hypoparathyroidism and 7 days ago had 3 parathyroid glands surgically removed. My doctor put me on 3000mg of calcium + 2000IU of Vitamin D per day. My head has been killing me ever since….I was thinking that I probably had a brain tumor! I was just googling the effects of calcium supplements and came across the articles about the headaches. I am calling my doctor tomorrow to see how to handle this.

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  11. Ilene Barrios says:

    Thank you for posting this. When I told my doctor that I got headaches from Calcium, she just said it was weird. I thought cutting my pill in half and trying that would help. I am in the same boat, I am almost 50 so you start thinking bone health. Anyway, it seemed to work until yesterday. I had the worst headache in my life. Thank you for showing that I am not the only one.

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  12. Trena says:

    I thought my eye drops were causing my headaches. Well after having my bloodwork done found out I was taking to much calcium. Because when I had my bone density test they said more calcium. Gave me an amount to take so here I am now Dr. says stop taking calcium for 3 months but add vitamin D.

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  13. Angel says:

    I donated platlets to a friend going through stem cell replacement. They gave me to calcium supplements before and during the procedure my lips and tongue were tingling and I sneezed a lot so they gave me a total of 6 Tums. About two hours later I was done and when I got up I felt groggy and left side of my head was heavy.. 20 minutes later I felt slightly better but my head is still hurting me right behind my eye on my left side. I woke up with this similar head pain same side. Going on day two now midday and I still have pain behind my left eye…

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  14. wnytomato says:

    I know this is old, but if you cut down on your phosphorus intake it will help your calcium stay up naturally 🙂 take it from a chronically hypocalcemic patient ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. shulamitbrachael says:

    Boron deficiency causes greatly increased amounts of calcium and magnesium to be lost with the urine. A borax supplement will reduce the daily loss of calcium by nearly 50%. As this calcium comes mainly from resorbed bone and teeth, boron deficiency may be the most important factor in causing osteoporosis and tooth decay.

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  16. […] of my pain scale, the week before last I had a bowel spasm that was a 9. My first 9 since The Evil Calcium Headache of 2012. I have experienced a lot of bowel issues in my life — just the day before, I had […]

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