As if migraine headaches weren’t bad enough…here come headaches and dizziness to spoil your day! Migraine vertigo can be part of your migraine symptoms, or it can signify a comorbid vestibular disorder.
What is Migraine associated vertigo (MAV)?
Migraine attacks include a wide range of symptoms, including extreme dizziness. A significant percentage of migraine sufferers also experience vestibular migraines– migraine headaches that come with symptoms of vertigo.
Go Ask Alice: Migraine Auras in Wonderland
What are the symptoms of migraine associated vertigo?
It is important to use descript terms when explaining vertigo symptoms to your doctor or headache specialist, so that he will be able to differentiate between true vertigo, which is a vestibular disorder, and other conditions common with migraineurs, such as anxiety or Meniere’s disease.
Migraine patients usually describe vertigo symptoms as:
- Severe dizziness
- Rocking or spinning sensations
- Motion sensitivity
- Feeling of ear fullness
- Tinnitus, or ringing inside the ear
- Muted hearing
Ménière’s disease and MAV
There is a high correlation between migraine illness and Meniere’s disease, as stated in this Japanese study on migraine-associated vertigo and Meniere’s disease released by PubMed. The main difference is duration- migraine vertigo symptoms can linger for hours, day, or even years, where vertigo associated with Meniere’s disease generally lasts for 24 hours, and no longer.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo, and usually the cause of vestibular migraines.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Small strokes, or transient ischemic attacks, are another cause of vertigo that your doctor will be able to diagnose with testing.
It is worth noting that migraine patients are extremely prone to motion sickness while traveling, which is another common cause of light-headedness, headaches and dizziness.
Fluid leaks in ear
Sometimes, vertigo and tinnitus symptoms indicate leaking fluid in your inner ear.
Anxiety attacks and depression
If you suffer from chronic migraines, then you might also experience feelings of anxiety, nervousness, depression, or panic. Vertigo is one of many symptoms of an anxiety attack, with others being breathlessness, sweating, uncontrolled thoughts, paranoia, and heart palpitations. People who suffer from depression often experience panic disorder as well.
Treatments for migraine headache and dizziness
If headaches and dizziness are chronic, then your neurologist or other headache specialist might prescribe a migraine treatment such as Topamax, antidepressants, or beta-blockers. Alternatively, natural therapies and ingredients for migraines that help include:
- Exercise, including yoga, Tai Chi, and low-impact aerobics
- Migraine prevention by diagnosing migraine triggers
- Stress management, including guided meditation, biofeedback, and deep breathing
- Herbs and vitamins designed for natural migraine management, such as butterbur, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 and magnesium for migraines.
Read more about migraine symptoms:
Why do Migraines cause Nausea and Vomiting?
Does migraine-associated vertigo share a common pathophysiology with Meniere’s disease? Study with vestibular-evoked myogenic potential- PubMed- NCBI
Epidemiology of vertigo, migraine and vestibular migraine
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo- Mayo Clinic
Ménière’s Disease [NIDCD Health Information]
Image credits, from top:
Mykl Roventine, AlicePopkorn, Renee Silverman