Susan has always had migraines. Severe headaches that would almost incapacitate her half a dozen times a year. She could recover by resting in a dark, quiet environment for a while. Then the dizziness spells began. All of a sudden the migraines were accompanied with the room spinning and Susan would have trouble standing upright. Susan has started to suffer from vestibular migraines.
As if a migraine isn’t bad enough, vestibular migraines mix in bouts of dizziness, vertigo or imbalance just for fun. You’re in a mass of pain and you can’t move unless you hold on to something or you will just keel over.
Interestingly enough, in some cases, there is no pain associated with the condition, but it can affect the ears, eyes and your balance. So while you are undergoing an episode you may have no pain but you may find you are very sensitive to light and noise or you may even experience tinnitus.
Anyone can get a vestibular migraine. In fact, vestibular migraines are thought to be one of the most common causes of vertigo and usually occurs mostly in people who have had migraines for many years. Secondly, for some reason, vestibular migraines tend to affect women more than men!
Assessing and diagnosing vestibular migraines should be done by a specialist, usually an audiologist who has specialised in vestibular and balance disorders.
Your assessment will be based on an organised process that excludes other disorders, looks at the pattern of reported symptoms, and also your response to medicines designed to prevent migraines.
Your specialist will conduct a thorough analysis of your medical history, review of your answers to a specific questionnaire about symptoms and more, and finally a physical examination looking at the functioning of your vestibular system (your inner ear, brainstem and cortex). It may also involve an MRI or CT scan.
It is important to note that there are many factors that can result in a previous vestibular migraine diagnosis being reviewed and altered. This is because vestibular migraines are diagnosed through excluding other diagnosis so if a new observation or symptom comes into play, it may change the diagnosis.
Treatment may include prescription medicines or even over the counter supplements. You should also consider the inclusion of vestibular rehabilitation, and in some severe cases, where the condition may have caused anxiety or loss of confidence, the use of psychological intervention.
But in all cases, where your migraines are accompanied with bouts of dizziness or vertigo, undertaking a process of diagnosis is the most important first step. Talk to your GP or audiologist today.
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