Migraines and Epilepsy: 4 Commonly Asked Questions

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What is epilepsy, and how are they linked with migraines? Science suggests that certain migraine patients may be genetically predisposed to chronic headaches and epileptic seizures, but a cure for either condition is still out of reach. Here are some FAQ that many patients have about migraine headaches and epilepsy.

Migraines and Epilepsy: 4 Commonly Asked Questions- Migravent

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes frequent seizures, resulting in a temporary loss of consciousness and control of body movements. An epileptic seizure occurs as part of a nervous system malfunctioning, as excess electrical surges cause your nerve cells to “black out” while communicating with your brain and the many nerve endings in your body.

Epilepsy is sometimes inherited biologically, but can also be caused by an injury or underlying health condition.

How is epilepsy related to migraines?

Migraines and epilepsy are both neurological disorders; more than that, doctors have noticed an unusually high incidence of epileptic episodes in people who get migraines with aura, attributing the correlation to genetics.

In a recent study which focused on 730 patients with epilepsy, migraine with aura symptoms were prevalent among people who inherited epilepsy from other family members.

Moreover, the study found that epileptic patients who had at least three close relatives with epilepsy were twice as likely to suffer from migraines with aura as epileptics with fewer links to hereditary epilepsy, suggesting a higher-than-normal risk for migraines with aura if you have a family history for epileptic seizures.

Are Migraines linked with Epileptic Seizures? It’s Genetics

Are all seizures caused by epilepsy?

Seizures are common symptoms of epilepsy, but a single incident doesn’t necessarily signify a brain disorder. A seizure may happen from oxygen depletion, high fevers, head injuries, or other remote causes, without being diagnosed as epilepsy.

Other causes of non-epileptic seizures include magnesium deficiency (which is also linked to migraine), thyroid disorder, or fluctuating glucose levels.

When seizures are frequent, occurring as a result of a nervous system disorder involving surplus electrical impulses, then they may be diagnosed as a form of epilepsy.

If I have migraines, am I at risk for epilepsy?

Scientists don’t know exactly what causes migraines, or why some migraines with aura (MA) patients are more likely than others to experience seizures. What they do understand is that a correlation exists, and they are able to use this information to help you prevent migraines when they occur following symptoms of aura, such as flashing lights, hallucinatory scents, or temporary speech slurring.

If you get migraines with aura, and you know of several family members who also experience chronic migraines, then it helps to be aware of your risk for epilepsy and speak to your doctor about prevention options.

Your turn!

Do you experience migraines with aura, in addition to epileptic seizures? Which anticonvulsant medications do you use, and are you satisfied with their performance?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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Like this? Read more:

Migraines and Epilepsy: Is Migralepsy for Real?

Migraine Headaches and Then Some…Migraine Comorbidities


Evidence for a shared genetic susceptibility to migraine and epilepsy

Overview of Seizures

What is Epilepsy?
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