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Janet Jackson Puts Rare Form of Migraine in the News

Janet_jacksonMusician Janet Jackson was recently in the news for interrupting her music tour due to attacks of vestibular migraine, a rare form of migraine marked by dizziness as its primary symptom, rather than pain.

Migraine sufferers often experience dizziness, but vestibular migraines are much different than regular migraines. The attacks of dizziness, which can make an individual feel as though he or she is spinning, rocking or moving in some way, can come on suddenly and be accompanied by several other symptoms, including extreme sensitivity to light, sound and motion, nausea, hearing loss and weakness in the extremities. Some people also develop a chronic form of vestibular migraine and experience a constant sense of dizziness.

Typically, patients are diagnosed with vestibular migraines when they are young, and the diagnosis can be difficult to make, especially if dizziness by itself is the only symptom. Approximately 30 million Americans experience migraine, and some health experts estimate that vestibular migraine affects only one or two people out of a thousand migraine sufferers. Other experts suspect vestibular migraine is more common than that but misdiagnosed as other disorders that are also marked by dizziness.

Vestibular migraine can be difficult to treat, though Jackson was able to get back on stage after being treated. Medications that prevent migraines are typically used, though dizziness can still occur with these medications. For people with chronic or frequent vestibular migraines, calcium channel blockers (a blood pressure medication), antiepileptic drugs and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (common antidepressants) may be diagnosed. Additional help may come from anti-inflammatory and antinausea medications as well as some muscle relaxants.

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