Understanding Vestibular Migraine: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Vestibular migraines affect about 3% of the adult population. Of that three percent, they affect women up to five times more than men. 

But what are vestibular migraines? What are the symptoms? How do you know if you’re affected by them? 

Do you have a history of migraines and wonder if you are having vestibular migraines? If so, we have the answers.

We’ll go over the vestibular migraine symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. By the end, you’ll know exactly what vestibular migraines are and how to deal with them.

If this sounds like you, read on to learn more.

Vestibular Migraine

What Is a Vestibular Migraine?

A vestibular migraine is a type of migraine that presents as dizziness, rather than pain. It is also the most common cause of vertigo. 

These types of migraines will occur mostly without an actual headache. Half of the patients report that dizziness gets followed by or occurs with a headache. 

Women in their late 30s or 40s reported the most occurrences of vestibular migraines. Especially if those women have a history of migraines and motion sickness. 

Vestibular Migraine Symptoms

Along with dizziness, there are many other symptoms of vestibular migraines. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Headaches, usually after the dizziness spell
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Motion sickness
  • Fatigue
  • Vision changes
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hearing changes
  • Tinnitus, or ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Visual auras
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Memory issues
  • Difficulty concentrating

You might have many of these symptoms or only a few. If you do, consult your doctor to get to the bottom of it. The sooner you know what is wrong, the sooner you can better control it. 

What Are Some Common Triggers?

There are things that can trigger you to have a vestibular migraine. The more you know about triggers, the better prepared you will be to avoid them. 

Some triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Hormonal changes
  • Complex visual stimuli 
  • Foods
  • Motion like unexpected movement

It’s a good idea to track your daily routines. Keeping a daily journal will help you identify triggers, and that way you can avoid them or control them. 

Doctors may give you a more in-depth list of triggers. Be sure to pay attention to the things you’re eating or doing. 

Be sure to pay attention to what your body is also telling you. For example, poor sleep quality could include too much or too little sleep. If you’re exhausted, make sure you get the right amount of rest to avoid triggering an attack.

The same goes for hormonal changes. Pay attention to how you feel if you’re going through menopause or hormonal treatment. If hormonal change is a trigger, let your doctor know, so together you can figure out a treatment.

How to Diagnose Vestibular Migraines

If you find you are having symptoms of vestibular migraines, it’s best to consult your doctor. Together, you can review your medical history and diagnose the problem. 

Vestibular migraines can be diagnosed if you have had at least five episodes of symptoms. These symptoms are usually moderate-to-severe. If these symptoms last from five minutes to 72 hours, it could mean a positive diagnosis.

Also, consider each episode. If half had a headache, following the dizziness, did it have at least two of these characteristics?

  • Pulsating quality
  • Moderate-to-severe intensity
  • Aggravation by usual physical activity
  • Unilateral location

Did these episodes also have a sensitivity to light or a visual aura? Often, the visual symptoms are the key to diagnosing vestibular migraines. 

Vestibular migraines often present, like Ménière’s disease. Without the proper expertise, you could misdiagnose yourself. Make sure you are going to an expert with your concerns.

Vestibular Migraine Treatment

There are several treatments for vestibular migraines that are affective. 

Preventative Medications

There are medications you can take that must get prescribed to you by a doctor. These medications include:

  • Beta-Blockers like Propranolol
  • Calcium Channel Blockers like Verapamil
  • Antidepressants like Nortriptyline
  • Anticonvulsant like Topiramate

These medications stabilize the nervous system. They will raise the threshold that triggers attacks. This prevents vestibular migraines from happening. 

Vestibular Migraine Rehabilitation

This is a type of physical therapy that can also be recommend for chronic balance dysfunction. 

Vestibular rehabilitation trains your brain to desensitize itself to common triggers. As time goes on, the intensity of the treatment will increase.

You can use this to treat many triggers. The key is finding what trigger affects you, so you can start desensitizing yourself to it. 

Other Treatments

If you have an attack, there are some things you can do to help yourself feel better. 

When a vestibular migraine hits, it is best to get some rest. Observe what you did or what may have triggered the attack, and jot it down. 

You should also try to stay hydrated. If you have other systems, like nausea, you can take medications to help with symptoms relief. Some medications include:

  • Antiemetic for nausea or vomiting
  • Antihistamines
  • Sedatives for severe symptoms

Another helpful treatment is trying to prevent attacks. Track your symptoms and triggers, so you can avoid them. 

Get Rid of Vestibular Migraines for Good

The key to getting rid of vestibular migraines is keeping track of what triggers them. This way you can prevent it. 

A vestibular migraine is preventable and treatable. With the right help, you can feel better in a matter of weeks.

For more information on vestibular migraines, including headaches, check out our blog posts. Make the best decision for you, so you can get back to normal life. 


Our Team: We are Here to Help

It’s hard to find your triggers. It’s hard to find the right medication combination that really helps you get better. We want to help. We are a small, dedicated app development team with an app that helps you better understand your migraines and triggers. Everyone on the team has lived with migraines at some point in their lives. We are your community. Reach out any time with questions. We love questions. [email protected].

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