What Causes Migraine Dizziness?

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Migraine headaches got you spinning in circles? There are several causes for dizziness with migraine disorder.  Whether you’re experiencing vertigo, lightheadedness, or fatigue, here are some clues that will help you put an end to that dizzy feeling.


Is it dizziness or vertigo?

Dizziness and vertigo are not identical. Sometimes, people complain of vertigo when they are really feeling dizzy, or light-headed. It’s important to know the difference, as true vertigo may necessitate an MRI brain scan.

Dizziness makes you feel confused, tired, weak, and wobbly. If you are a migraine sufferer who experiences dizziness day in, day out, then you should consult your doctor.

Vertigo, on the other hand, is more than just dizziness- you feel intoxicated, as if the room were spinning around, and you have difficulty walking steady. Vertigo from migraines is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. With true vertigo, lying down brings some relief, while sitting up suddenly makes the dizziness worse.

Migraines with aura (MA)

Migraines are often classified by the presence of an aura- a premonitory phenomenon that occurs minutes before a migraine attack strikes.

Migraines with aura begin with a number of disturbing symptoms, including:

  • Vertigo
  • Fatigue
  • Speech slurring
  • Visual disturbances, like seeing bright lights, zigzagging colors, dark voids in your field of vision, or eclipsing images
  • Temporary partial paralysis
  • Painful tingling sensations

Some migraine patients experience vertigo and other symptoms of migraine aura separately from migraine headaches. Migraine vertigo can last for hours or days.

Migraine Headaches and Dizziness- Stop the Ride, I want to get off!


Vestibular migraine

Vestibular migraines are a type of migraine with aura that produces intense vertigo instead of throbbing headaches.  Sudden rocking sensations make you feel dizzy and nauseous, and may last for hours.

Triggers of vestibular migraines include:

  • Sudden movements
  • Turning the head abruptly
  • Driving or being a passenger
  • Large crowds

Scientists are certain what causes vestibular migraines, but they believe it is an inherited disorder.

Hemiplegic Migraine Headaches

Hemiplegic migraines are MA-type migraines that may occur as early as childhood.  Unlike vestibular migraines, hemiplegic migraines cause severe head pain, in addition to dizziness, paralysis on one side of the body, and other MA symptoms. Hemiplegic migraines are typically longer-lasting than other types of migraines, and sometimes (but rarely) result in pervasive balance disorders.

Scientists believe that genetic mutations may be the cause of hemiplegic migraines and dizziness.


Topamax, an anticonvulsant prescribed for epilepsy, is a popular treatment endorsed for migraine headaches. For some, Topamax provides dramatic relief from migraine attacks.

However, a significant number of migraine patients using Topamax complain of side effects such as dizziness, brain fog, fatigue, and memory loss.

Are Migraines linked with Epileptic Seizures? It’s Genetics


Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)

ME/CFS shares several links with migraine disorder, including symptoms like vertigo, chronic pain, and sluggishness. Like migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome occurs in the brain, as a result of the nervous system’s hypersensitivity to various stimuli.

Meniere’s disease

Meniere’s disease is a balance disorder that occurs in the inner ear and the brain. Symptoms include vertigo, ear fullness, partial hearing loss, and tinnitus (ear ringing).  A significant number of Meniere’s disease patients also suffer from migraines.

Migraines and Meniere’s disease: a Match made in Hades

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Balance Problems- Mayo Clinic

Migraines & Central Sensitization in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


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