Category Archives: Migraine with Aura

Five Things Restaurants Can Do to Eliminate Migraine Triggers

I love going out to restaurants. It’s a real treat not having to cook an entire meal myself or enjoying dishes that are too complicated or time-consuming to make at home. Every once in a while, I like having someone wait on me, even if I’m only having a cup of tea or coffee with a fresh muffin while I read a book. No matter how much I may love dining out, however, there are many times when visiting a restaurant has triggered a migraine. Though I avoid known triggers and call potential ones to a manager’s attention when I’m out, it’s sometimes too late: the migraine has already started. I don’t want restaurants to become sterile, uninviting places, but I do wish that all restaurant owners, managers, and employees knew some of the most common triggers of migraines so these triggers could be eliminated before people with migraine even walk in. Their customers would then feel safer enjoying that meal away from home.

1. Control the Temperature

Temperature control is very important for most people who suffer from migraines since extreme variations and quick changes can trigger those pounding, one-sided headaches. For some of us, heat is a trigger, so, no thank you, we don’t want to sit at that table with the full sun shining on it. If there are blinds or shades, please do put them down even if our table is not right next to the windows. For many of us, that cold air blowing down from the air-conditioning unit will trigger a migraine. We’re not trying to be difficult when we ask to me moved to a different spot. We just want to enjoy our meal without getting stabbed in the head by the icepick-pain that is our migraine. Moderate temperatures probably work best for all customers, but it’s imperative for those who suffer from migraines. Please keep the restaurant at a more moderate temperature, neither stifling hot nor freezing cold.

2. Eliminate Any Flickering Lights

Whether it’s from those romantic candles on each table, from that television hanging in the corner above the bar, or from a failing fluorescent bulb in a ceiling fixture, lights can cause debilitating headaches in almost all of us diagnosed with migraines. If I ask to be seated someplace where I can’t see the flashing lights of sporting events or commercials, I’m trying to take care of myself, not annoy you. I can blow out a candle on the table to keep its flame from triggering a migraine, but I can’t fix that flickering fluorescent light on the ceiling, and moving to another table doesn’t always keep that blinking light from my peripheral view, and that, too, can trigger a migraine. Please check all the ceiling lights before opening each day, and replace any bulbs that are humming or flickering. Don’t light candles on individual tables unless the patrons request it or agree to it when they’re seated. We, too, may love romantic lighting, but nothing kills romance faster than the excruciating pain of a migraine. Please be aware that flickering lights are triggers, and eliminate them whenever possible.

3. Turn Down the Noise

I’ve only walked into a sports-bar restaurant once, and I immediately left because there were big-screen televisions everywhere, each turned to a different sporting event, all with their sounds blaring. When popular restaurants have the sound on the bar’s television turned completely off (sometimes with closed-captioning on for patrons who want to watch television while dining out), I’m very grateful. But that loud music pumping through the restaurant’s speakers can cause just as many headaches for those of us who suffer from migraines, and not because we don’t like whatever music you happen to be playing. If you have live musicians and we ask if their microphones could be turned down, we’re not trying to insult your musicians. We just want to eat our meal without having a migraine triggered by the noise. When patrons talk even louder to be able to hear each other over the already loud television volume or music, the migraine triggers are compounded. Keep ambient noise to a lower level so everyone can enjoy their dining experience, not just those of us who have migraines.

4. Avoid Strong Odors

Of course, anyone may encounter unfamiliar smells at a restaurant, especially if it serves ethnic food or other dishes with which patrons may not be familiar. Those kinds of smells don’t usually trigger a migraine for me, but that chlorine bleach or Lysol with which you cleaned your restrooms almost instantly causes a migraine. Cleaning product odors can trigger fierce headaches for countless people with migraine. I realize that you have a large volume of traffic in your restaurant, and that you want to keep your patrons safe from germs and contagious illnesses, but there are plenty of natural products free of such triggering odors, products that also disinfect and keep germs at bay. If you are prohibited from switching to more natural, less offensive-smelling disinfectants for some reason, you might clean your bathrooms a few hours before opening, and avoid cleaning them with strong-smelling products while diners are present in the restaurant to keep those powerful odors from triggering a migraine in the middle of a patron’s meal.

5. List All Food Ingredients & Additives

There are many food ingredients, natural and manufactured, that can trigger migraines. Those artificial sweeteners in your restaurant’s diet sodas and desserts may be fine for most patrons, but they cause migraines for many of us. Food allergies can trigger migraines — or worse, anaphylactic shock ( a life-threatening allergic reaction). As someone allergic to bees, I can’t have honey, raw or cooked, but honey is rarely listed as an allergen in restaurant foods.

MSG is a known migraine trigger, and restaurants that specialize in oriental foods are not the only ones that use it. MSG could be in the packaged gravy mix your cook uses for the homemade meatloaf, in the seasoned salt he sprinkles on the fish or meat, or in the bouillon cubes he tosses into the soup to make it taste richer. Other ingredients, like soy or yeast extract, can also trigger migraines even if the patron is not actually sensitive to MSG.

Some restaurants have their wait-staff memorize the ingredients in each dish; other restaurants have all ingredients hanging in the kitchen so the list can be consulted if patrons have questions. The wait-staff needs to be informed about such food and beverage triggers, and then trained to be diligent and knowledgeable when serving patrons. Even better, having every ingredient in every dish listed and available to patrons on request will protect all your patrons with food allergies, not just your customers with migraines who might be triggered by a dish’s ingredients. Any initial expense of printing all the ingredients would soon be recouped by loyal patrons who know they can eat your restaurant’s meals without fear of having a migraine triggered.

Though I don’t go out to eat regularly, I appreciate having a safe environment when I do go out to a restaurant. If the manager monitors the ambient noise level, is aware of climate control, and watches for any flashing or flickering lights, they can protect customers from being inadvertently exposed to migraine triggers. Additionally, I scrupulously avoid known food triggers, so when the wait-staff, cook, or manager can readily provide me with the complete ingredient list of any dish I order, they’re helping me take care of my own health and inspiring customer loyalty.

Related Posts

For more of my migraine articles,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

This article originally appeared on MigraineMantras.

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Filed under chronic pain, health, hemiplegic migraines, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines

Why Getting a Medical ID for Hemiplegic Migraine Depressed Me

“You’re getting a migraine, aren’t you?”said my physician last year during one of my regular visits. “If you were pulled over, a policeman would think you were drunk or on drugs. If you were taken to a hospital, they would think you were having a stroke. Time for you to get a medical ID bracelet.”

I was so shocked that I just sat there staring at him, and not just because he’d said I sounded impaired. I was first diagnosed with migraines at age five and have suffered from the throbbing head pain, vision changes, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells all my life, as have many of the women in my family.

When I was 9, a doctor realized that I was having seizures when I had a migraine, though he did not give my headaches a different name. In my mid-thirties, a migraine specialist determined that I suffer not only from complex-complicated migraines but also from familial hemiplegic migraines, which are rare.

Hemiplegic migraines mimic strokes by causing temporary paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, loss of balance or coordination, and confusion or an inability to understand speech. Hemiplegic migraines can also cause speech difficulties such as slurring, dysphasia (words get mixed up or switched around in sentences), or aphasia (an inability to speak).

Most frightening, this type of migraine can cause changes in consciousness including seizures or coma. No one in my family who suffered from migraines ever carried anything other than pain medication, and though migraines with aura significantly increase the risk for stroke, no one in my family ever wore a medical alert. Now, however, medical ID bracelets are being recommended for people diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines since so few physicians are familiar with the symptoms.

Once I got over my initial shock at my doctor’s suggestion that I wear a medical ID bracelet, I welcomed the idea of the bracelet, if only because I thought I would feel safer wearing a medal with “Hemiplegic Migraines, Aphasia & Seizures” inscribed under my name and emergency contact numbers. To my surprise, I was terribly depressed upon receiving the bracelet. For months, I was so depressed that I found myself constantly “forgetting” to put the medical alert bracelet on. Because my doctor insisted I wear it, I had to figure out why the medical ID bracelet depressed me. This is what I came up with.

My medical condition was no longer private.

Many people describe migraines as an “invisible illness” because the suffering can’t be seen, and I suppose I felt more comfortable having a condition that most people didn’t know about. With the medical ID bracelet, instead of my life partner and close friends being the only ones who know I have migraines, everyone who sees me now knows something’s wrong with me. I’m wearing a bracelet that says so. Even though the bracelet is for my safety, it felt like an intrusion into my privacy.

I felt like a failure.

I take care of myself by getting plenty of sleep, avoiding dietary and situational triggers, and by walking, doing yoga, and meditating almost every day. I’ve tried every anti-depressant and anti-seizure medication on the market to get my migraines under control, but wearing a medical bracelet listing my condition made me feel as if I hadn’t done enough. The bracelet didn’t change the frequency or severity of my migraines, but it made me feel I have somehow failed to prevent them.

I felt like my migraines were my fault.

Migraines are neurological conditions, and researchers are still investigating whether all types of migraines may be inherited. Both sporadic (not inherited) and familial (inherited) hemiplegic migraines definitely involve genetic defects or mutations that upset neurochemicals in the brain, causing the symptoms of the aura and the pain of the migraine. Despite knowing all that on a conscious level, having to wear the medical ID bracelet made it somehow seem as if the migraines were my fault, which I had never felt before.

I felt like I was wearing a sign on my forehead.

I readily admit that I’ve had to make a lot of lifestyle changes and adjustments because of my migraines. I can’t go to concerts or movie theatres because the high volume triggers a migraine. I avoid grocery aisles with humming or flickering fluorescent lights that can instantly cause both a severe migraine and its associated seizures. I use only unscented lotions, soaps, or shampoos, nor can I be around anyone who’s wearing perfume because it causes migraines. I have to know every ingredient of every dish I eat that I don’t make myself to avoid food triggers like artificial sweeteners or additives (e.g., MSG): those things can cause migraines, and hemiplegic migraines can cause seizures which can lead to coma.

I’ve been called “neurotic” by more than one person in my life, including doctors who dismissed my symptoms as “all in my head” when they didn’t know anything about hemiplegic migraines. I guess I never minded being considered “neurotic” because I knew that I was taking care of myself. Though I’m unable to work when I have a migraine, I never considered myself to have a chronic illness let alone a disability. Wearing the medical ID bracelet made me feel like I was chronically ill as well as disabled. Further, the medical alert made me feel like I was wearing some shameful Disabled sign on my forehead for everyone to see.

To my surprise, my life partner was very pleased when I got the ID bracelet. He admitted, for the first time in almost 25 years together, that he has always been concerned about my having a migraine-induced seizure: he worried that he would be unable to adequately explain hemiplegic migraines to medical personnel. The instructors in my T’ai Chi and Kundalini Yoga classes looked so relieved when I showed them the bracelet that I felt quite guilty for not having gotten it sooner. When I went to a new dentist and then to an oral surgeon to have a dying tooth extracted, both doctors immediately asked about the medical alert and were then pleased to know that my medical condition, which neither had ever heard of before, was clearly indicated on the bracelet.

One day when I went to the grocery last month, I actually forgot to put my bracelet on. After I realized that I’d left it at home, I became anxious that I might experience an aura and have difficulty speaking while I was among strangers. That was when I understood that my initial depression over wearing the medical ID bracelet had completely disappeared.

After wearing my medical ID bracelet for almost a year, I can honestly say that I am happy to have it. I wear it every day, even at home, and have it on 24-hours a day when I have a migraine in case of seizure. I feel only safety wearing the medical alert bracelet now, and I encourage anyone who has a severe, chronic, or rare medical condition to wear one.

This article, in a slightly altered form, was first published
on  The Mighty and reprinted on MigraineMantras.

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This Is Your Brain on Migraine

Impacting not just the head but the entire body, migraine is the most common neurological disorder, affecting 10-15% of the adult population. For comparison, epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder (after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease). Unfortunately, few people completely understand the mechanism of migraine. Even doctors, neurologists, and scientists who specialize in migraine research do not necessarily understand everything about this disorder, if only because few of them have ever suffered its agonizing pain.

To make the process of migraine clearer for everyone, let’s imagine your body as a house run entirely by electricity. When the power supply works well and is uninterrupted, you have all the modern conveniences: light, heat, air-conditioning, refrigeration, computers, and Internet. The brain’s 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) are your body’s power system: its wiring and its electricity. Neurons enable you to breathe, move, and think. The neurons in the brain’s outermost layer — the cortex — process information from the senses, regulate body temperature, initiate movement, and enable such complex processes as memory, attention, speech, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. Electrical power makes your house and your body run more efficiently.

Now, imagine your house during an electrical brownout. Too little voltage, as in a dip, and lights noticeably dim, fans slow, and electronic devices sound a warning. Too much voltage, as in a surge, and appliances and electronics can be damaged. This is your brain during an aura. Cortical neurons fire abnormally, in dips and surges, causing symptoms which can include visual disturbances, nausea, clumsiness, or vertigo. Strange tastes, unusual smells, rapid fluctuations in body temperature, and speech difficulties are relatively common. The irregularities in your brain’s electrical system during an aura’s brownout can cause insomnia, depression, irritability, anxiety, brain-fog, and fatigue.

Of course, if you aren’t home during an electrical brownout, or if you’re asleep during an aura, you won’t notice the electrical havoc. Only 20-25% of those with migraines report aura, though some researchers suspect that migraine sufferers may not always notice aura symptoms or associate them with subsequent head pain. Some people with migraine may not associate fleeting irritability, occasional insomnia, or mild depression with an aura because, just as electrical brownouts are not always followed by a complete power outage, auras are not always followed by the crippling pain of a migraine.

Now, imagine your house during a complete power outage. Though the house is still standing, nothing in it that depends on electricity will work. That means no light, no washers and dryers, no television or computers. Without electricity, almost all modern conveniences are unavailable or inoperable. This is your brain on migraine. Instead of firing abnormally, in dips and surges, the cortical neurons across the brain begin to shut down completely. In a wave called Cortical Spreading Depression (CSD), the neurons in the brain’s cortex — the nerve cells that process sensory input, control movement, and enable both speech and thinking — go into “electrical silence” and don’t fire at all. It’s a power outage in your brain.

Why is this neural blackout in the brain so painful? Research indicates that migraine pain is likely due to inflammation of the trigeminal nerve — the largest nerve in the head — responsible for motor control, touch sensation, and pain perception in the scalp, face, eyes, nose, sinuses, cheeks, jaw, teeth, and gums. This inflammation of the trigeminal nerve appears to be directly triggered by the brain’s electrical blackout during Cortical Spreading Depression. When deliberately induced in the brain of a rat, a CSD neural blackout activated the pain-transmitting trigeminal nerve system in the meninges: the sensitive membranes covering the brain. Trigeminal nerve pain, as anyone who has ever experienced a migraine knows, is excruciating and debilitating.

Usually, after a blackout in a residential area, electrical power is restored, and life in your home returns to normal. Since people rarely die during power outages, they are usually not life-threatening. You don’t suffer physical pain during a power outage either, so it’s merely an inconvenience. This is where the analogy ends.

People with migraine suffer incapacitating pain during CSD’s neural blackout. Even after a migraine, when the neurons start firing relatively normally again, it’s highly probable that another wave of CSD and its associated pain will strike. Despite taking medication, effecting lifestyle changes, and avoiding as many triggers as possible, people with migraine cannot entirely eliminate the auras or the pain. Unlike the electrical system of a house, which can be upgraded to reduce brownouts and power outages, our brains cannot be upgraded to reduce abnormal neuron-firing, Cortical Spreading Depression, or CSD-triggered migraine pain.

There is some good news, however. In 2017, an international team of researchers discovered a “genetic particularity” that is more common in those who have migraine, with or without aura. This is the “first irrefutable genetic link” regarding the most frequent forms of migraine. Perhaps, one day soon, researchers will be able to determine ways to adjust and regulate the brain’s complex electrical system, reducing or even eliminating the neural brownouts that are thought to cause aura, as well as the CSD neural blackouts that trigger the incapacitating pain of migraines.

[Illustration of trigeminal nerve branches credit:
Trigeminal Nerve Branches, by John Charles Boileu Grant,
An Atlas of Anatomy, by Regions, 1962. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia]
(This article was originally published on MigraineMantras.)

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What Is Hemiplegic Migraine?

The smell of smoke woke me in the middle of the night. I got out of bed fast, prepared to evacuate my apartment. I heard people talking and assumed that others were already leaving the building. When I got to the hallway, however, it was empty: there was no smoke, and there were no people.

Cautiously, I went to the floors above and below mine, where I could still smell something burning and hear the hum of voices. I went to the parking lot, thinking people were congregating outside. No one was around, and all the apartments in the building were dark. I went back to my place, firmly convinced that there was an electrical fire in one of my outlets.

After an hour of crawling around smelling each outlet, I was more confused than ever. No smell seemed to be coming directly from any of the outlets, yet when I stood back up, I could most definitely smell electrical fire. I could still hear people talking, too, though no one seemed to be close enough for me to hear them clearly: I couldn’t make out the actual words of the conversation. I was up most of the night, crying and waiting for disaster to strike. The next day, when I smelled gasoline and still heard several voices faintly talking to each other, despite my being at home alone all day, I thought I was losing my mind.

Gasoline, cigarette smoke, electrical fire, propane gas – I’ve smelled all of them for no reason in my life, and it took years before I was brave enough to admit it to anyone. Even then, I only told my doctor because I was also experiencing such dreadful tingling and weakness in my left hand that I kept dropping things, and because my left foot was numb so often that I limped and stumbled along, unable to feel my foot.

When I finally admitted smelling strange, non-existent odors, along with hearing “voices” without understanding the words, my doctor began to question me about other possible symptoms. She mentioned strange tastes, temporary mental confusion, an infrequent inability to speak, instances of my words coming out jumbled and mixed up, or my losing consciousness without warning.

I’d been having non-convulsive seizures during the migraine attacks at least since the age of 9, when a doctor noticed that I sometimes lost consciousness during migraine. Because I was diagnosed with migraine at age 5, and because virtually all the women in my family also had migraine, the doctor said she thought she knew what was causing all those frightening neurological symptoms.

After sending me for multiple medical tests to ensure that I was not developing multiple sclerosis and that I had not had a stroke, the doctor diagnosed Familial Hemiplegic Migraine, a rare form of migraine disorder.

Hemiplegic Migraine

Hemiplegic Migraine (HM) is caused by mutations in one of at least 4 genes, preventing the neurons from firing normally, causing partial numbness, tingling, or paralysis on one side of the body (hemiparesis) along with the other migraine aura symptoms such as visual disturbances or speech difficulties. HM can also cause impaired consciousness, ranging from confusion to profound coma. Familial HM is inherited: other family members with migraine have similar neurological symptoms. Though Sporadic HM can occur after head trauma, and though he same genetic mutations are involved, Sporadic HM is not inherited, so it does not run in families.

The pronounced neurological symptoms of Hemiplegic Migraine make it a subdivision of Migraine with Aura, which can cause heightened sensitivity to smells and to light, as well as nausea and vomiting during the migraine itself. Although the debilitating pain of migraine does not always follow the aura symptoms of light sensitivity or nausea in other forms of migraine, virtually everyone who experiences the one-sided neurological symptoms of Hemiplegic Migraine, whether familial or sporadic, has the excruciating one-sided head pain after the aura.

Though it’s uncommon for the neurological symptoms to remain after the pain of the migraine has passed, HM can cause prolonged weakness, extended memory problems, or mild but permanent difficulties with movement and coordination. A few doctors and researchers seem to believe that Hemiplegic Migraine “disappears” after age 50, but most people do not get miraculous relief from these migraine attacks as they age. Unfortunately, triptans and ergotamines, which are sometimes used to prevent or treat other forms of migraine, are contraindicated in those with Hemiplegic Migraine because those prophylactic medications often trigger strokes.

Despite the worrying symptoms, a diagnosis of Hemiplegic Migraine can actually be a relief for migraine sufferers. Their strange neurological symptoms are part of a rare migraine disorder that not only has a name, but is a recognized illness and disability.

(This post is an excerpt of my post originally published on MigraineMantras.)

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Sound Vitality Infratonic 9 Sound Wave Device to Reduce and Eliminate Chronic Pain, a Review

Sound Healing

Sound healing is not new. Tibetan Singing Bowls, chanting, humming, lullabies — they’re all forms of sound that have been used throughout history for soothing, healing, or meditation. I’ve had a Tibetan Singing Bowl for almost two decades now. I meditate with it and use it to reduce anxiety during a panic attack. Unfortunately, the Singing Bowl doesn’t reduce the pain or duration of a migraine, whether it is with aura or without, nor does the Singing Bowl reduce the excruciating pain of atypical trigeminal neuralgia, from which I’ve suffered for the last two years. Because my medical massage therapist had actually used a Sound Vitality Infratonic sound wave device on some of my childhood injuries to reduce recurrent inflammation and pain, I decided to use that specific device on my head in the summer of 2018 after a three-month migraine showed no sign of ending.

My therapist was afraid to use her Infratonic device on my head: I have hemiplegic migraine that can cause seizures, and my therapist feared that the sound waves might trigger a migraine-induced seizure. In June 2018, she let me borrow her Infratonic 8000 (an older version) to use at home, cautioning me to make sure I was lying down in bed before using it on the migraine pain so that, if the sound waves did trigger a seizure, I would already be in a safe environment.

When I first put the Infratonic 8000 on my head, directly over the migraine pain, the pain increased slightly. Almost immediately, however, the pain changed in a way that’s difficult to describe. Before I’d even removed the Infratonic 8000 from my head to change its settings, the pain began to reduce in intensity. (I wrote an article detailing the treatment of that particular migraine, and another with placement suggestions for anyone else treating migraine pain with Infratonic sound wave devices.) Using the Infratonic 8000 never triggered a migraine-seizure, and because the Infratonic 8000 so noticeably reduced the pain, I started researching the science behind the sound wave device as well as how I could acquire an Infratonic of my own.

How Sound Vitality Sound Devices Work
Sound Vitality makes no claims that their sound wave devices heal you. Instead, their devices reduce pain and inflammation with infrasonic sound waves (less than 20 Hz or cycles per second, which is below the threshold of most humans’ ability to hear), allowing your own body to begin to heal itself. The patented Infratonic is 501(k) listed by the FDA as medical massage device, though it doesn’t really “massage” your tissue. The earlier units, which plug in, vibrate a bit, but it’s not actual massage. The Infratonic 9 does not vibrate.

Infratonic 9 in my hand. Photo © Alexandria

The newest version of the Infratonic sound wave device is a dramatic improvement over the earlier devices, which were rather large and cumbersome, and which needed to be plugged in to operate. To use the Infratonic 8000, you had to literally be within a foot or two of the device’s base. The Infratonic 8000 is no longer available for sale because the company now offers a new version: the Infratonic 9, or I-9 for short. Not only is the Infratonic 9 smaller than the previous versions of Sound Vitality’s devices, it is portable and rechargeable. The I-9 is approximately 3.5″ wide, 6.5″ long, and slightly over 1.5″ deep. It weighs 14 ounces (i.e., much less than the hardcover Lord of the Rings in one volume). The I-9 comes with its own non-padded, vinyl carrying case and AC adapter/charger.

I was delighted to learn that you do not have to have a medical massage license to purchase Sound Vitality’s Infratonic 9. You do not need your physician’s recommendation or a prescription to buy one, and you most certainly do not need the permission of an insurance company to buy the I-9 to treat your own pain.

After using the Infratonic 8000 periodically for a few years in my medical massage therapist’s office, using the Infratonic 8000 daily for a month to treat an intractable migraine, and using the Infratonic 9 virtually 24 hours a day for the last 7 months, I can now comfortably review both the product and the company.

Sound Vitality’s Infratonic 9

How to Operate the Infratonic
There are three sound wave settings on the I-9 for reducing pain and promoting healing, on the right side of the On/Off button, operated by the Signal button after you turn the I-9 on. Each setting has its own frequency of sound waves.

  • Balance (which some medical massage therapists call “body”): soundwaves at 8-17 Hz
  • Acute (which some call “body and mind”): soundwaves at 8-50 Hz
  • Deep Calm (which some call “spirit”): soundwaves 8-800 Hz

Infratonic 9 (I-9) controls. Photo © Alexandria

To the left of the On / Off  button is the Timer button: the I-9 has two pre-set timers, for 10 or 20 minutes each, which also operate with an electronic alarm (which sounds just like the device when you turn it on). The timed settings, with or without alarm, shut the device off automatically after designated 10 or 20 minutes.

Infratonic 9 Timed Settings and Alarm. Photo © Alexandria

To run the device on any setting — Balance, Acute, or Deep Calm — continuously, press the Timer button until all the lights on the left side of the control panel are off. The device will run continuously until you manually turn it off with the On / Off button in the center bottom.

The I-9 has a rechargeable battery (life expectancy = 3 years) and a plug-in adapter/charger. It took 45 minutes to charge it the first time (their site says it takes 90 minutes).  You can safely use the I-9 while it is charging, but don’t put it under a pillow when it’s plugged in and charging as the I-9 gets hot to the touch when plugged in and under a pillow. Sound Vitality estimates 60-65 hours of continuous usage from one battery charge: I’ve gotten as much as 2.5 days of continuous use before the unit alerted me, with a noise and the battery light, that it needed to be recharged.

The Battery light in the center of the control panel only operates when it needs to be charged, in which case it will glow red, or when it is charging, also red. The Battery light turns green when it is fully charged and goes off when you unplug the unit.

The sound waves are emitted from the underside of the I-9, which looks like the grill of a fan. No air comes out. The I-9 has a patented Chaos system that makes the sound waves come out in a “chaotic pattern” so that your brain and body cells cannot accustom themselves to the sound waves. If your cells can find the pattern, they can replicate it, which allows the damaged cells to remain damaged.

The underside of the Infratonic 9. Photo © Alexandria

If you hold the I-9 to your ear, you might hear the sound of the Chaos-mechanism whirring slightly, but you have to have exceptional hearing, i.e., beyond the usual human range, to hear the sound waves themselves. Horses and dogs can hear the sound waves. I think my cats can, too. I hear something beyond the Chaos mechanism on both the Acute and Deep Calm settings, but most people hear no sound when they put the I-9 up to their ear.

You can place the Infratonic directly on bare skin: it will not burn you or heat up. You do not need any gels or lotions for the sound waves to pass through your tissue and bone; further, I wouldn’t advise putting the I-9 on top of gels or lotions since those might damage the machine by getting inside. You do not have to take breaks from using the I-9: I’ve used it the entire 9 months that I’ve had the migraine that is being triggered by the trigeminal neuralgia, including when I sleep, and I’ve been using the I-9 specifically for the atypical trigeminal neuralgia for over six months, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I-9 with adapter/charger and case. Photo © Alexandria

What’s In the Box
• the Infrantonic 9
• a non-padded, vinyl, zippered carrying case
• plug-in adapter for recharging the battery
• a handbook of testimonials from customers

Infratonic 9 carrying case. Photo © Alexandria

For such an expensive device, the carrying case is pretty cheap and flimsy. It is not padded in any way. To carry the fully charged Infratonic device with me in my purse or backpack, I put it into a sturdier, fully lined, padded leather pouch.

Infratonic 9 in my own leather pouch. Photo © Alexandria

Since the AC-adapter/charger doesn’t have retractable prongs and doesn’t fit in either the original carrying case nor in my leather pouch, I’d put the Infratonic 9 in my padded, suede, iPad-mini case if I were traveling, if only because that case has a separate zipped outer compartment where I could safely store the adapter/charger.

My padded, suede, iPad-mini cover, with 2 zipped compartments, for travel. Photo © Alexandria

The adapter could have been improved by having retractable prongs, but it would have been even better to have a USB adapter and a separate plug (with retractable prongs). A USB-adapter/charger cord would easily fit into the vinyl carrying case that comes with the device as well as into the smaller leather case I have. A USB-adapter/charger would not scratch the I-9 itself as the attached-plug charger could if it were forced into a case with the device. This type of adapter/charger would also allow the device to be charged at home and at work, for instance, without requiring you to carry around the bulky plug.

Warranty and Customer Service
The Infratonic 9 has a 30-day Unconditional Return Guarantee and 1-Year Warranty on Parts & Labor from Sound Vitality itself. Mine behaved strangely the first few days: it kept sounding the alarm and shutting itself off randomly. Sound Vitality paid my return shipping, replaced the circuit board and battery, and shipped the repaired I-9 to me, all free of charge. After it was returned to me, I’ve used it over 6 months, virtually continuously, and it’s worked perfectly.

At the end of the seventh month of constant usage, the light indicating that the battery needed to be charged on my I-9 began coming on in less than 24 hours — far shorter than the 48-60 hour charge time I’d been used to — and the unit began turning off and on and off again, by itself, but without the customary warning beeps. When I contacted Sound Vitality’s customer service about buying a new battery, they informed me that the battery should last 3 years. They talked me through some trouble-shooting tips to reset the device, and mailed me a replacement battery free-of-charge. After the trouble-shooting, which I was easily able to do myself, the device stopped randomly turning itself on and off. Once I installed the replacement battery, the device returned to its original 48-60 hours of operation before needing to be charged.

Sound Vitality has outstanding customer service, and someone is available to answer questions by phone or online chat to help you with your device.


Sound Vitality Sources of Infratonic Information

If you have questions about the I-9 itself, the customer service department at Sound Vitality is happy to answer you via online chat or by phone at their toll-free number. They have a former website at Chi Institute, which has several articles on the 30-year history of the Infratonic, on how infrasonic sound waves work healing injured horses, on how the Infratonic reduces pain and cellular trauma, and how the Infratonic device accelerates recovery. The Hospital Protocol pages lists some of the types of injuries and tissue damage for which the Infratonic may be used. Sound Vitality also has testimonials on its site about the type of conditions the Infratonic machines have been used to treat.

Their older website has some diagrams about using the Infratonic (all versions), but I actually found it more effective when I just put the Infratonic (whether the older 8000 model or the latest model I-9) on the pain itself, as well as on any areas that might be contributing to the pain. The Infratonic Therapy User’s Guide for the I-9  is 110 pages of testimonials from customers who have used it on themselves or their animals, for injuries, surgeries, etc. You can read the entire guide online.

Sound Vitality has a video on the I-9 settings and timer, a brief video tip on using the I-9 for sleep, a very brief video mentioning the I-9 for headache and migraine, and a 48-minute webinar on treating various injuries and illnesses with the I-9, but there are no detailed instructions on how to specifically use the I-9 to treat specific injuries beyond “put it where it hurts” and “chase the pain.

I had to figure out where to use the Infratonic for migraine pain myself. That’s why I wrote my first I-9 article: I would have loved to have found such a detailed article when I was researching ways to reduce migraine pain with sound waves, and I wanted to share what worked (and what didn’t) with others suffering from migraine.

Final Evaluation of Sound Vitality’s
Infratonic 9 Sound Wave Device

My main purpose in using the Infratonic 9 sound wave device is to reduce and eliminate chronic and acute (sometimes excruciating) pain: the I-9 scores extremely high in that area. It reduces both chronic and acute pain almost immediately. I have been using Sound Vitality’s Infratonic sound wave devices continuously since Jun 2018, for migraine without aura, hemiplegic migraine, and atypical trigeminal neuralgia. Since August 2018, I have been using the Infratonic 9 constantly for the atypical trigeminal neuralgia. I even made a pocket for the device out of a sport’s headband, and I pin the device-in-the-pocket to another sports headband, and wear the I-9 all day long, over the area of the damaged trigeminal nerve. At night, I sleep with the I-9 under my pillow, vent side turned upward.

The I-9 reduces the duration of hemiplegic migraine attacks and enables me to use less pain medication (though I still have to stay in bed). After 3 months of continuous usage, the Infratonic sound wave devices enabled me to differentiate the migraine without aura that was being triggered by the atypical trigeminal neuralgia, the hemiplegic migraine attacks, and the unremitting pain of the atypical trigeminal neuralgia. The I-9 also has reduced the frequency and the excruciating lightning-bolt pain of the trigeminal neuralgia. For the last week, I have had several days when I was relatively pain-free for several hours at a time: when I tried not wearing the I-9 a couple mornings this past week, I had severe pressure in my face from the atypical trigeminal neuralgia and some excruciating breakthrough pain, but nothing I couldn’t handle with several aspirin, herbal supplements, and brief usage of the I-9.

The Infratonic 9 has given me hope that I will one day be pain-free.

Having used the Infratonic 8000, which is most decidedly not portable, the newer I-9 scores high with its portability and light weight. Considering the fact that I’ve been able to actually get out of bed regularly the last few months, despite continuing pain, by literally wearing the I-9 (in the headband-sleeve, attached to another sports headband worn around my forehead), the smaller size, lighter weight, and portability of this newer device rate very high.

The I-9 was relatively easy for me to use, but I may be more familiar with all types of electronic devices than some people. Considering the fact that there are I-9 videos which demonstrate how to actually use the I-9, there are obviously some people who don’t understand its working mechanism. Sound Vitality would do well to have an instruction sheet on the device’s basic operation, especially if they wish to have people who are not medical massage therapists using the device on themselves.

More important that even a padded carrying case that would hold both the device and its adapter/charger, Sound Vitality needs to provide an owner’s manual that instructs us in how to treat chronic or acute pain with the I-9 sound wave device. Because I have been going to medical massage therapists for over two decades, and because I have purchased many medical textbooks to help me learn how to treat chronic pain, I was a little more informed about treatment areas for the pain of migraine and atypical trigeminal neuralgia. However, I had to basically teach myself how to treat the the damaged areas areas with the Infratonic 9. Some treatment areas worked and reduced the pain, some didn’t, and I would have greatly appreciated having an owner’s manual that gave me some rudimentary advice, at least, about I-9 placement (such as in my first article on the Infratonic 9).

Infratonic 9 Evaluation
• Ease of use: A-/B+
• Portability: A
• Reduction of pain, chronic and acute: A+

Accessories
• Carrying case: D-
• Adapter/charger: C
• Owner’s manual: F

Service
• Warranty: A
• Customer service: A+

Purchasing an Infratonic 9

I first had experience with an Infratonic 8000 in my medical massage therapist’s office, who told me that she had first used one on herself at the office of another medical massage therapist before she purchased an Infratonic for her office.

I realize that this is a rather expensive unit, and if I hadn’t used it in my medical massage therapist’s office for a recurring injury and its pain, I would have hesitated even longer about buying my own. My research into sound healing and Sound Vitality’s 30-day money-back guarantee convinced me to purchase my own I-9, and I was saving the money to buy it when I learned that Sound Vitality allows you to make a purchase via PayPal Installment.

You do not need a physician’s prescription or a medical massage license to purchase an Infratonic 9. I am not aware of any insurance companies’ covering the cost of the device, although you can purchase an I-9 with the funds in a Health Savings Account (HSA) if you have one.

If you have any questions about using the Infratonic 9 for pain relief, please feel free to ask me in Comments to this post, on Twitter or on Facebook, or in an email via the Contact page. I’ll do my best to help you figure out how to use the Infratonic 9 to help you reduce your pain.


My I-9 was purchased directly from Sound Vitality.
I received no compensation for this review.*

Sound Vitality I-9

I have not received any sort of compensation for this review, nor have I received any compensation for any of my other articles about my experience treating migraine and atypical trigeminal neuralgia with the Infratonic 9. I did all the research on sound healing, ultrasound, infrasound, and Chi-sound machines myself, before and after my Infratonic 9 was purchased. When I had some questions about the frequencies of the sound waves, I contacted Sound Vitality, and their Director told me the specific ranges of the sound waves, as well as why the Chaos mechanism was added to disrupt those sound waves for healing purposes. I learned everything else from my own research and my own experience with the Infratonic 8000 and the Infratonic 9, and that includes all the suggested placements for pain relief and treatment in the Related Posts (below).

The Infratonic 9 is made by Sound Vitality, and you can buy it directly from their site. After you have the item in your cart, you can choose Pay with PayPal if you wish to pay in installments. You will then be taken to PayPal’s site, where PayPal handles all the financial information and installment arrangements. Otherwise, you pay with a credit or debit card.

The Infratonic 9 it is also sold by Sound Vitality through Amazon, which lists the same device three different times (all with the same price): for sports injuries, abdominal pain, and menstrual cramps. They are all the same device, though the photos make the device look slightly different. If you buy the Infratonic 9 from Amazon, Sound Vitality will be sending you your device.


Related Posts

For more of my articles on migraine or on the I-9,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

* These ads are affiliate links: if you click through and purchase an I-9,
I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.*

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Filed under chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, healing, health, Infratonic 8000, Infratonic 9, Infratonic Sound Devices, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Review, Sound healing, trigeminal neuralgia