Vascular Changes Causing Dizziness In Migraine
Persons with migraine can sometimes experience a stroke, especially in the cerebellum — the main balance part of the brain, and thus there can be dizziness due to vascular disturbances. Strokes from migraine are called “complicated migraines”. As only about 1% of persons with Migraine experience a stroke, and not all strokes are in the balance part of the brain, this is an unusual situation.
The well known association between strokes and Migraine has caused some difficulties for mechanistic systems thinkers. It is difficult to see any value to a disorder that causes stroke, and also difficult to see how neural circuitry involved in modulating pain could cause a stroke either. Perhaps we are dealing with more than one disorder here ?
Persons with migraine also frequently exhibit MRI findings suggestive of small strokes, or multiple sclerosis. . At this writing, it seems unlikely that these lesions are of any functional significance.
What Does An Ocular Migraine Feel Like
An ocular migraine begins with a sparkling and shimmering area that has a jagged border and that gradually spreads outward. It causes a small blinding spot that enlarges and blocks your vision temporarily. The brightness begins at the edge of your field of vision and gradually spreads to your line of vision. Zigzag lines or stars may also be seen. It is almost like looking through a broken window. Scotoma is the area where vision is disrupted and the whole episode is called a positive aura.
An ocular migraine is often referred to differently by different experts. While many call it a visual migraine or a typical aura without headache, the International Headache Society classifies such a migraine as a silent or acephalgic migraine.
Though it seems serious since you lose your vision partially, the condition is usually harmless and will resolve on its own within 2030 minutes without any medical intervention. Complete visual darkness, or a negative aura, is not a symptom of an ocular migraine, but of some other underlying condition that needs to be investigated.2
Apart from visual disturbances, ocular migraines can also interfere with your speech. You may also feel tingling, weakness, or numbness in your hands and legs, experience size or space distortions, or feel confused. All of these, however, are rare.3
How To Handle A Barometric Migraine
It makes sense that your first step in managing this type of migraine is to know when the barometric pressure is changing, so investing in a small barometer for your home can help alert you ahead of time.
Some other ways you can reduce the severity of a barometric headache are:
- Watch the weather: Its not enough to just look through the window. Youll need to follow the weather predictions in detail, particularly the next two to three days.
- Stay hydrated: Avoid the effects of increased humidity that typically accompany cloud build-up by keeping up your water consumption.
- Avoid glare: Staying indoors might not help you avoid changes in barometric pressure, but it will enable you to manage your exposure to glare, extreme temperatures and humidity. Investing in a good pair of tinted glasses also helps block sunlight outdoors and bright, fluorescent lights indoors.
- Watch Your Triggers: When you know a low pressure period is coming, keep a close eye on any other of your particular triggers, such as foods and drinks that might affect your migraines. Its possible to get away with having these occasionally, but try to avoid combining them with a dip on the barometer.
Disclaimer: Migraine Relief Center does not endorse the quality or effectiveness of any apps mentioned this blog, only that they exist.
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Foods To Eat With Low Blood Pressure
Certain foods can help increase blood pressure, including
- Low carb foods
- Foods rich in vitamin B12 like meat, eggs, milk products, fortified breakfast cereals, and few nutritional yeast edibles
- Foods that are rich in folates like dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, fruits, beans, eggs, meat, seafood, poultry, and grains.
What Causes A Migraine
The cause of migraine headaches is complicated and not fully understood. When you have a headache its because specific nerves in your blood vessels send pain signals to your brain. This releases inflammatory substances into the nerves and blood vessels of your head. Its unclear why your nerves do that.
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What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine
Migraine with aura . This is a headache, plus:
- Visual symptoms or vision loss.
- Sensory symptoms .
Migraine without aura . A common migraine is a headache and:
- The attacks included pain on one side of your head.
- Youve had at least five attacks, each lasting between four and 72 hours.
Plus, youve experienced at least one of the following:
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Lights bother you and/or you avoid light.
- Sounds bother you and/or you avoid sounds.
Does High Blood Pressure Cause Headaches Or Other Symptoms
Q.My friend insists that she can feel when she has high blood pressure, because her face flushes and she gets a headache. Is this possible?
A. In almost all instances people cannot feel high blood pressure and are unaware that they have it. This is why it is often referred to as a silent killer.
It is usually only when a person is in the midst of what is known as a hypertensive crisis a period of extremely high blood pressure with a reading of 180/120 millimeters of mercury or higher that she or he will experience symptoms, such as a headache. This is considered a medical crisis, and if it occurs, you should call 911 and get emergency help.
However, even in these instances, high blood pressure can’t be diagnosed based on symptoms alone. The only way to truly tell if you have elevated blood pressure is to take a reading with a blood pressure cuff.
If your friend is experiencing frequent headaches and other symptoms she’s attributing to high blood pressure, it might be wise for her to visit her doctor to make sure another condition isn’t causing the problem. If she does have uncontrolled high blood pressure, she should also be certain to work with her doctor to manage her condition. Unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to numerous complications, including damage to your arteries, brain, heart, and kidneys.
by Hope Ricciotti, M.D., and Toni Golen, M.D.Editors in Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
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Treatments For Hypertensive Headaches
If people have headaches as a result of high blood pressure, they should seek immediate medical attention. Without treatment, there is a risk of further organ damage or unwanted side effects.
Doctors classify hypertensive headaches with other related symptoms as a hypertensive emergency. This condition often requires blood pressure control with intravenous medications.
Examples of these medications include:
- sodium nitroprusside
It is essential that people do not try to lower their blood pressure at home, even if they have the medications. Reducing blood pressure too quickly can affect the blood flow to the brain, causing unwanted side effects.
Instead, they should go to an emergency room where doctors can help them to lower their blood pressure in a safe, controlled environment.
Ear Conditions Associated With Migraine
Migraine is associated with several other causes of dizziness.
Meniere’s disease and Migraine — the interrelationship causing dizziness in migraine. Maybe in a few.
Basilar artery migraine is quite difficult to distinguish from Meniere’s disease because the “aura” can include 3 of the 4 diagnostic features of Meniere’s disease. Migraine associated vertigo, for the subcase where there is no headache, overlaps nearly 100% with the criteria for Menieres.
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Is It A Trigger Or A Warning
We know that the brain of someone with migraine likes balance, like regular sleep and meal patterns. We also know that migraine can be triggered by alcohol and the menstrual cycle. The evidence for other triggers, such as exercise, eating chocolate and bright light, is less certain.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if something is really a trigger, or if what youre experiencing is an early symptom of a migraine attack.
Studies have found that sometimes what you may think is a trigger is actually to do with the premonitory or warning stage of a migraine attack.
During this stage, you may get symptoms such as changes in your mood or emotions, cravings for certain foods, and being more sensitive to light, sound or smells.
These symptoms can lead to you think that something is triggering your migraine attack. For example, at the beginning of a migraine attack, you may start to crave sweet foods. You may then eat some chocolate to satisfy the craving. When you then get a headache, you may think that eating chocolate was the trigger. But actually you were starting to have a migraine attack when the cravings started and the cravings were the warning sign.
The same could be true for other triggers. If you are more sensitive to light in the warning stage, you might think bright lights are a trigger. If you are more sensitive to smells, you might think certain scents are a trigger.
What Are Migraine Triggers
A number of factors can trigger a migraine, whether its ocular, retinal, or classic migraine. The reasons can vary from person to person. If you have ocular migraines, pay attention to these possible triggers:
- Stress and anxiety
- Relaxation after a stressful time
- Loud sounds or bright lights
- Strong odors
Dr. Kim discusses common triggers for migraine headaches.
Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.
What are some triggers for migraines?
Retinal migraines are more likely to be triggered by other factors: intense exercise, dehydration, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, hot temperatures, and tobacco use.
Certain foods can trigger both types of visual migraines:
- Red wine or other alcohol
- Food and drink with caffeine
- Hot dogs, sausage, and other processed meats that contain nitrates
- Chips, fast foods, broths, and other products with the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate
- Artificial sweeteners
- Food with the naturally occurring compound tyramine, including smoked fish, cured meats, and some soy products
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How Does High Blood Pressure Cause Headaches
Pain levels depend on how high someones blood pressure is. Hypertension headaches may range from mild to severe and are regulated by how much blood is reaching the brain. During times of high blood pressure, blood vessels running through the tissue under the skull constrict or tighten, leading to headache development.
It is also possible for blood pressure medication to cause headaches. Checking blood pressure during headaches can be a good indicator of whether it is caused by abnormal blood pressure levels.
Some medical professionals believe that having a headache due to high blood pressure is a sign of a hypertensive crisis, which is when blood pressure spikes to critical levels.
Migraines And High Blood Pressure
Patients who suffer from chronic hypertension do not commonly live with migraine conditions. This may be explained by the fact that patients who do not get auras with their migraines tend to respond positively to being treated with high blood pressure medications. Some migraine patients experience periods of dangerous hypertension following a severe episode of migraine with aura and intense cephalalgia. This can be explained by the simple fact that pain tends to raise blood pressure in practically all patients. Migraine patients who suffer chronic episodes more than twice a week can expect that their vascular system will eventually weaken to the point of developing high blood pressure.Kidney damage is one of the most serious consequences of living with high blood pressure. This is something that all people should keep in mind, and not just those who live with migraine conditions. Many patients eventually grow out of their migraine conditions for reasons unknown, migraines tend to stop as patients enter their golden age. Nonetheless, many of these patients go from migraines to hypertension headaches if they neglect caring for their blood pressure. To this effect, living a healthy lifestyle can reduce migraines and prevent hypertension at the same time.
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Blood Pressure Drug Appears To Prevent Migraines
Jan. 5, 2000 — Researcher Harald Schrader, MD, says serendipity played a large role in his decision to study a popular blood pressure drug as a preventive therapy for migraines. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology professor says he had suffered from crippling headaches for several years when he also was found to have high blood pressure.
“I was placed on lisinopril, and my headaches got better almost immediately,” Schrader tells WebMD. “Soon after that, we gave the drug to a woman we were treating for disabling migraines who also had borderline high blood pressure. A few weeks later, we got a hand-written, four-page letter from her telling us that the treatment had given her a new life.”
Schrader and colleagues now have more scientific evidence that lisinopril, which goes under various trade names such as Prinivil or Zestril and is among the class of high blood pressure medicines known as ACE inhibitors, really does prevent migraines. In the Jan. 6 issue of the British Medical Journal, they report that the therapy appears to work as well as other preventive agents with fewer side effects.
In nearly a third of the patients, symptoms were reduced by half while on lisinopril. These patients also had fewer overall days with migraine.
Mathew says the most important thing a patient can do is find a doctor who is knowledgeable about the treatment of migraines.
How Are Migraines Treated
Migraine headaches are chronic. They cant be cured, but they can be managed and possibly improved. There are two main treatment approaches that use medications: abortive and preventive.
- Abortive medications are most effective when you use them at the first sign of a migraine. Take them while the pain is mild. By possibly stopping the headache process, abortive medications help stop or decrease your migraine symptoms, including pain, nausea, light sensitivity, etc. Some abortive medications work by constricting your blood vessels, bringing them back to normal and relieving the throbbing pain.
- Preventive medications may be prescribed when your headaches are severe, occur more than four times a month and are significantly interfering with your normal activities. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. Medications are generally taken on a regular, daily basis to help prevent migraines.
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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
The visual cues are hard to ignore: shimmering or flashing lights, zigzagging lines or stars, black spots. All make it difficult to read, write, or drive. If you experience these symptoms, youre most likely having an ocular migraine. It can occur with or without the pain of a migraine headache.
For people prone to migraines, one of every five has this visual aura before the headache pain begins. An ocular migraine by itself lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and isnt considered a serious condition.
Headache specialist Richard Kim, MD, describes a migraine with aura.
Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.
What is a migraine with aura?
Although some doctors think ocular migraines are caused by the same factors that create classic migraines, no one knows for certain. Ocular migraines seem to run in families. They have been linked to estrogen, a female hormone that fluctuates during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, or with use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapies.
Most ocular and retinal migraines dont require treatment.
Hypertension: The Silent Killer
Blood flows through your blood vessels and the force varies second to second anyway, so why does it matter if blood pressure is high? That is, why is hypertension so dangerous? Hypertension is called the silent killer for two reasons.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, and aneurysms without previous symptoms or warning signs. That is why it is important to know your blood pressure and treat it if you have hypertension.
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Treatment For Medically Refractory Migraine Headaches
In cases where no other preventive or acute treatments have provided significant relief from migraine headaches, an affected person may be recommended to explore neuromodulation therapies. As described by the International Neuromodulation Society, these are a recent development in the treatment of migraine headaches, which involve the use of technological devices which alter, or modulate, a personâs nerve activity by delivering targeted electrical or pharmaceutical agents to a specific area.
In treating migraine headaches, the device is used to supply the electrical or pharmaceutical agents to a specific area of the head or neck, for a particular amount of time. These factors will vary according to which particular treatment is used.
For more information about neuromodulation therapies in the treatment of medically refractory migraine headaches and other headache disorders, see this fact-sheet from the International Neuromodulation Society.
What Are The Four Stages Or Phases Of A Migraine Whats The Timeline
The four stages in chronological order are the prodrome , aura, headache and postdrome. About 30% of people experience symptoms before their headache starts.
The phases are:
It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.
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