A headache is one of the most frustrating ailments out there, and a migraine is even worse. Pair this with vertigo and you get a condition that can affect your daily functioning in more ways than one.
A vestibular migraine, also known as migrainous vertigo, is a type of migraine with a number of symptoms that impair its sufferer. Learn more about what this condition is, its symptoms, its causes, and ways to effectively treat these unwelcome and intense types of conditions from this article.
What Is A Vestibular Migraine?
This kind of ailment is a nervous system problem that often occurs in patients who have a history with normal migraines and their symptoms.
Some people can go years only experiencing migraine symptoms before vertigo associated with the vestibular kind kicks in. Typically, this vertigo is the primary symptom, and the sufferer may not always complain of a headache in itself.
Either way, this condition can be extremely debilitating and is something that can and should be treated by both you and a medical health professional. You can help yourself by learning more about it so that you are better prepared when the next one comes along.
Causes Of The Condition
In every person’s nervous system, you find the vestibular system. This is located in the inner ear and sends messages to the brain’s balance control center about the position of the head. When we experience vertigo, we suffer the false sensation that we or our surroundings are moving.
As it stands, the exact vestibular migraine causes are not known. However, it is theorized that it has to do with the widening of the blood vessels in and around the patient’s brain, in particular, the area wherein the vestibular system is located.
This causes problems with the processes between this system and the balance control center of the brain. Sometimes this does not only cause vertigo but it also causes a number of associated symptoms that make up this exact condition.
Because there is a link between previous sufferers of migraines and those who suffer migrainous vertigo, checking out these additional causes for headaches may be helpful in gaining a better understanding of one’s condition.
The symptoms of vertigo may happen before, during, or after a headache, so sometimes preventing the headache itself may keep vertigo at bay.
Who Suffers From These Migraines?
Although it is more likely to begin suffering vertigo after the age of 40, both adults and children can be affected by this condition. Women are more likely to suffer from it than men, as is the case with traditional migraines. Around 40% of people who suffer from the latter also experience symptoms of vertigo. It is estimated that around 1% of the population are affected by migrainous vertigo.
No matter who you are or what your age, this condition can be extremely frustrating and can impair your daily functions and overall quality of life in a number of ways.
Vestibular Migraine Symptoms
There are numerous symptoms associated with this ailment. The main being that of vertigo: feeling unbalanced and as if one is falling or the ground is moving. This can seriously affect a person’s ability to conduct movement.
Along with the dizziness and vertigo associated with a vestibular migraine, you may also experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Pain or discomfort when turning, bending, or otherwise moving the head and neck area
- Constant neck pain
- The feeling of pressure within the head and/or ear
- Difficulty hearing low sounds
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feelings of confusion and disorientation
- Visual disturbances such as blurred or hazy vision, or loss in parts of vision
- Tinnitus which is a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear not caused by any external sound
Along with the above, of course, sometimes comes the presence of a headache. One or more of the following symptoms of a traditional migraine are often experienced at the same time:
- Abnormal sensitivity to light and/or sound
- Seeing flashing or shimmering lights in one’s vision. This is called a migraine aura.
- A headache that is one-sided and pulsing and that gets worse upon activity or other exertion
Migraines are ailments that affect a great deal of the population, and their symptoms alone can be cause for concern and distress. Read more about the debilitating ailments and what causes them here.
Diagnosing The Condition
When determining whether or not you are suffering from this ailment, it is best to visit a medical health professional to make the diagnosis for you. This way, you can be sure of what it is and receive the right treatment.
There are, however, general guidelines for diagnosis set forth by the International Health Society. If you exhibit the following you could be diagnosed as a migrainous vertigo sufferer:
- You have a history with traditional migraines and/or still suffer from this ailment
- Vestibular migraine duration of symptoms is anywhere between 5 minutes and 72 hours, from moderate to severe intensity
- Half of your episodes are paired with traditional migraine headaches or problems with vision and hearing
- You have experienced at least 5 separate episodes of a vestibular migraine
A medical health professional’s diagnosis is crucial in the treatment of this condition. If you think you exhibit the right symptoms that ascribe to the above guidelines, it is recommended that you visit a doctor to help you manage the ailment effectively and professionally.
Treating The Condition
Once you have been diagnosed, there are a number of different ways that your doctor may choose to treat your condition.
Not only can you receive preventive medication prescriptions, but you can also learn from your doctor what your triggers may be. Once you know what these are, you can combat them by making some simple but effective lifestyle changes:
Lifestyle changes for vestibular migraine treatment
- The best vestibular migraine diet is a healthy one. Making sure you eat enough fruits and vegetables and that you drink enough water can go a long way in improving how your body functions, thus avoiding unwelcome vestibular symptoms. The best foods to eat are ginger, tomatoes, and foods rich in zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B and C.
- Try to regulate your sleeping patterns. If you get enough sleep each night, it is likely that you will be able to combat the severity of your symptoms.
- Alter your lifestyle in such a way that you can avoid stress to the best of your ability. Stress is often cited as one of the main causes of traditional migraines. Exercise, regular sleeping patterns, and healthy eating are great ways to reduce stress.
- Avoid any food or drink that may cause headaches. The top causes here are caffeine and alcohol consumption. The amino acid, tyramine, should also be avoided. This can be found in many foods and has been cited as a potential migraine trigger. Examples of these foods include red wine, yogurt, chocolate, bananas, citrus fruits, ripened cheeses, and nuts.
Of course, lifestyle changes are not the only things that may help you to keep migrainous vertigo at bay. Doctor prescribed medications are key in treating the debilitating symptoms of this condition. While these medications may not completely rid you of your migraine, they are helpful in reducing severity and duration.
You may also find that home remedies for ridding yourself of a migraine or headache are helpful. These include avoiding the sun, drinking chamomile tea, using peppermint and lavender oils, and chiropractic care. Be sure to be aware of your symptoms and what triggers them.
Is There A Cure?
Can vestibular migraines be cured you ask? Well, there is no completely effective cure for them, but the above-mentioned means of combating them have proven to be extremely helpful. Making sure you know what the condition is can go a long way in helping you to identify triggers and reduce severity.
Your doctor will prescribe you medication in order to prevent the migraine or stop/decrease its symptoms when it happens. The following medications are helpful and often used in treatment:
- Traditional migraine medications
- Vestibular suppressants
- Anti-nausea medication
- Seizure medications
- Blood pressure medications
Often, combating the vertigo element of a vestibular migraine, or combating the headache element can be effective in treating and preventing the entirety of the condition. However, keep in mind that a medical professional is the best person to diagnose and prescribe medical treatment.
If you suffer from vestibular migraines, keeping the above information regarding treatment and lifestyle recommendations in mind can truly help you to improve your quality of life. Make sure to follow our guidelines and the guidelines set out by your doctor.
Living with this condition can be extremely frustrating and can seriously impair your standard of living. As such, it is best to be fully prepared for anything that may cause an onset or worsen your symptoms. Read more about headache treatment options here, and take the necessary steps to change your life for the better.