Vital Facts About Vestibular Migraines That You Should Know About

Updated on August 17, 2021

Today seems to be an excellent day for debunking some migraine myths. Therefore, true or false: Migraines are always accompanied by terrible headaches? If you guessed yes, we do not really blame you — pain is frequently cited as the primary symptom of migraines — but this is incorrect. Certain types of migraines are painless. Among them are vestibular migraines.

Vestibular Migraines: What Is It and The Most Common Symptoms

Vestibular migraines are a type of headache that is characterized by symptoms such as vertigo and dizziness and may or may not be accompanied by head pain. The following are the primary vestibular migraine symptoms that you should be aware of:

• Dizziness: It is not uncommon for migraine sufferers to experience wooziness or to be lightheaded. This is believed to be due to the increased sensitivity in the inner ear during a migraine attack. You may even get a sense of instability on your feet.

• Vertigo: This symptom is simply a type of dizziness that occurs when you feel as though the room or that your body is spinning, and it is a strong indicator that someone may be suffering from vestibular migraines.

• Vomiting and nausea: Although the mechanism by which migraines induce these symptoms is unknown, they may occur as a side effect of having a condition that usually involves dizziness.

• Sensitivity to light, noise and, smell: These are all common migraine symptoms that may or may not accompany a vestibular migraine episode.

• A headache…possibly: When you suffer vestibular migraines, you may or may not experience head pain. If you do, you may experience intense throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head.

People who suffer from vestibular migraines may have unique triggers, such as menstruation, altered sleep patterns, and consuming foods such as ripened or aged cheese, chocolate, and red wine.

Difference Between Classic Migraines and Vestibular Migraines

The primary distinction between that and of a classic migraine and vestibular migraine is that the latter is characterized by dizziness and vertigo and may not be accompanied by headache. Apart from that, they might be relatively similar, even in their progression.

Causes Of Vestibular Migraines and Those Who Is Most Likely to Get Them

Although neurologists do not know why vestibular migraines occur, there are some theories. One is that there is an excessive activity of the neurons in the brainstem, which overstimulate the vestibular system (the area of the inner ear responsible for balance). Another possibility is that specific triggers dilate the blood vessels, triggering the production of inflammatory chemicals associated with migraine symptoms. Additionally, similar to classic migraines, it appears as though the trigeminal nerve, which interprets sensations in the head and face, may be affected somehow.

As is the case with classic migraines, just about anyone may develop vestibular migraines. And, once again, similar to classic migraines, vestibular migraines are familial. Women are also more susceptible to vestibular migraines than males, which is unsurprising given that women are almost three times more prone to suffer from migraines in general. This is most likely due to the role of hormonal changes related to menstruation, birth control, and pregnancy can have in precipitating or aggravating migraines.

Getting Diagnosed with Vestibular Migraines

This is where things become peculiar: The majority of persons who suffer from vestibular migraines would not experience dizziness concurrently with their headache, assuming they get one at all. As a result, doctors may easily mix the symptoms with other health disorders.

Regrettably, there is no definitive test to diagnose vestibular migraines. If your physician feels this is the case, they may ask you diagnostic questions from ICHD. Individuals who suffer from vestibular migraines typically has the following symptoms, as outlined by the ICHD:

• Five episodes (at the least) of experiencing moderate to severe vertigo that lasts between 5 minutes to 3 days. 

• At least half of the migraine episodes included one of the following:

  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • A headache that appears to be localized on one side of the head, pulsating, is moderate to severe in intensity and worsens with physical activity 

Furthermore, the doctor may order specific tests to rule out other health problems, such as blood tests to check for problems in the blood vessel, an MRI or CT scan to rule out other neurological conditions, and perhaps a spinal tap to rule out infections, brain bleeding, or some other underlying medical condition.

Treatment Options That Are Available for Vestibular Migraines

The treatment of vestibular migraines and typical migraines is quite similar. In general, therapy options fall into two categories: painkillers and preventive medications.

Pain relievers include over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin, as well as migraine-specific medications. Additionally, there are medications known as triptans that constrict your blood vessels and lower the pain threshold, as well as ergots that inhibit the transmission of pain messages to the nerve fibers. There are other additional pain-relieving solutions available. What is best for you may be different than what is best for others who suffer from migraines, so it is recommended to do a thorough discussion with a doctor before choosing a migraine prescription on your own.

In terms of preventive, your doctor may prescribe beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers, both of which act on blood vessels. Beta-blockers may help lessen the frequency and intensity of migraines, whereas calcium channel blockers may help to prevent them altogether.

Tricyclic and certain other antidepressants may also be beneficial, potentially reducing the frequency of migraines through modulating serotonin levels and other brain chemicals. Just like with pain relievers, there are still more types of preventive medications that may help with your migraines; consult your doctor for advice.

Bear in mind that no medicine is guaranteed to be effective for everyone who suffers from vestibular migraines.

That is why, in addition to medication, you might have to seek alternative treatment for your migraines. This may involve maintaining a regular sleep pattern and, as much as possible, lowering your stress. You may also want to check whether or not exercising can alleviate migraine episodes because workouts may potentially trigger migraines with other people.

If you do get vestibular migraines, managing them may require some trial and error, but it will be worth it once you feel steady on the ground again.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.