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Vestibular Migraine

Vestibular migraine can be confusing as the vertigo can overwhelm the migraine and be confused with benign positional vertigo. The different types of migraines as a subset of headaches can be difficult to diagnose, sometimes even to a neurologist.

As mentioned previously, there are different types of headaches and migraines. Vestibular migraine is associated with moderate to severe vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation that the room is spinning, unlike dysequilibrium, where you feel like you are spinning a bit.
These symptoms also include:

  • Vertigo
  • Sensitivity to motioin
  • Nausea
  • Dysequilibrium (feeling "drunk")
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing feels muffled
  • Ear fullness

Actually, the name for this is just another name for vertiginous migraine. The symptoms are the same as a "regular" migraine but the spinning can be so bad as to be disabling.

This page was added because so many people are told that they have this diagnosis but are a bit confused by what it means. It is really just an interchangable name for vertiginous migraine.

Other Conditions Causing Vertigo

As always, a good physician will rule out conditions that could be more serious than vestibular migraine. Neuroimaging should include an MRI of the brain, with contrast to rule out tumors. An MRA should be done to look at the arteries in the brain to rule out aneurysm.

The medical problems to rule out include:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Inner ear infection
  • TIA's or cerebellar stroke
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Neck pain causing cervicogenic vertigo

Treatment Of Vestibular Migraine

This particular type of headache responds to calcium channel blockers such as verapamil. Beta blockers such as propranolol may also work well in addition to anti-seizure medications such as Topamax. TCA's in low dose, such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline are quite good at treating the vertigo and the migraine. TCA's in particular, work to calm the brainstem which can be the source of vertigo.

Remember that calming the brain down is the ultimate goal to reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. This is accomplished through medications, lifestyle changes and regular exercise.

If this doesn't sound like your symptoms, you may want to learn more about different types of headaches.

You can also learn how to explain to those around you about your migraine headache symptoms. More information about what causes headache.

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