Are Migraines A Problem? Are They Affecting Your Enjoyment of Life?
Many people who get migraines also have problems with their vision and may also experience, photophobia (light sensitivity), phonophobia (sound sensitivity), nausea, lethargy, dizziness or vertigo along with the headaches.
These symptoms can be both concerning and anxiety provoking. They usually improve or even remit with treatment. Lifestyle adjustments, medications, and complementary therapies can help reduce migraines and their associated symptoms.
Vision Problems Associated with Migraines
Before some migraines, sufferers get an aura, which often includes visual symptoms:
• Blind spots
• Flashing lights
• Spots of light
• Pinwheel or strobe like visual phenomenon
• Wavy lines in your field of vision
Vision problems usually start 5 minutes to a ½ hour before the headache. Even if you don’t get an aura to warn you, the headache itself may cause visual disturbance. There are migraine that occur in the brain, but another form of migraine may occur inside the eye itself.
Ophthalmic or Retinal Migraines
A retinal migraine can cause a variety of visual symptoms, possibly even blindness in one eye, before and during the headache. Fortunately, these problems usually resolve, but rarely, permanent vision loss may be a complication of this kind of migraine. Patients sometimes present with the others symptoms of a migraine but do not experience a headache. This is still a migraine and should be treated.
Other serious conditions, such as optic nerve problems, glaucoma, stroke or damage to the arteries that supply blood to your brain, can also cause unilateral vision loss. See your doctor as soon as you can to evaluate this or call InterMountain Eye. Don’t wait if the symptoms do not reverse with medications such as Aspirin or Naproxen Sodium.
Vertigo and Dizziness
Migraines are one of the leading causes of dizziness. More than one-fourth of the people in the U.S. who have migraines get this uncomfortable symptom. Dizziness and vertigo are more common when you have migraines with aura.
You may feel lightheaded or unsteady. Vertigo can make it seem like the room is spinning. This may happen before or at the same time as the headache. Sometimes you won’t get a headache at all. The symptoms may last anywhere from a few seconds to days.
The sensations are actually related to your inner ear. In fact, some people who have vertigo with their migraines also have other ear and hearing problems such as sound sensitivity and ringing in their ears. A basilar-type migraine is the most likely to cause vertigo. It’s also likely to cause ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and coordination difficulties.
Some people who have migraine-related vertigo don’t get this symptom until several years after their headache episodes begin.
Doctors have a hard time diagnosing vertigo caused by migraine. That’s because people who have these headaches often have other conditions that may cause dizziness, too, including anxiety, depression, and low blood pressure related to their body position.
Treatment for Migraines and Related Symptoms
Many people can lessen or get rid of their migraine and migraine symptoms by changing their lifestyle habits:
• Avoid trigger foods, including chocolate, peanuts, heard cheese, coffee, bananas, lima beans and alcohol. Red wine is especially bad for migraine sufferers.
• Stop smoking.
• Lower your stress level.
• Get regular exercise.
• Get plenty of sleep.
• Eat a proper diet.
No single medication exists thatwill work for all migrainesufferers. However, there are options that, alone or in combination, may relieve the headaches and associated visual and other symptoms.
Some prescriptions suppress migraines before they start:
• Amitriptyline or Nortriptyline, medicines once used to treat antidepressant
• Topiramate, a seizure medication that also works to prevent migraines from starting
• Verapamil, also used for high blood pressure, chest pain, and irregular heart rhythm
Other medications abort the migraine once it begins:
Your doctor may prescribe drugs called triptans, including sumatriptan and rizatriptan, to abort migraines before they become full-blown.
A new technique called a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may short-circuit a migraine by turning on your brain in a particular way. When one feels a headache coming, one holds a small device that releases a pulse of magnetic energy on the back of the head for about a minute. You’ll need a prescription for this device, too.
Both prescribed and over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, may provide relief from the migraine’s effects.
Biofeedback and acupuncture can help you manage your stress as well as headache pain and other sensations.
See Dr. Vale for your migraine diagnosis and treatment. We offer a number of treatment options for Migraines at InterMountain Eye Associates.