Study Finds Symptoms and Triggers of Vestibular Migraine

Symptoms and triggers of vestibular migraine in the absence of peripheral etiology for vertigo have been identified by researchers. The results of the study were published in Pain Medicine.

Vestibular migraine affects about 1% of the population, but it often goes unrecognized. It most often goes undiagnosed when there is no headache or the clinician is not a headache specialist.

Researchers at Gazi University in Turkey reviewed patient records in an attempt to identify common symptoms of patients diagnosed with vestibular migraine by a headache specialist after otolaryngologist referral. They reviewed 101 adult patients and found patents most commonly described feeling as if the ground were slipping under their feet. More than 40% of the patients described feeling this way.

Of the records reviewed, more than half of the patients found head or body motion and moving visual stimuli to be common precipitating factors. Most patients also said their symptoms lasted seconds.

Common triggers were also identified, such as sleep deprivation and hunger.

“The descriptions of the patients fit into dizziness rather than spontaneous internal or external vertigo,” according to the authors.

  • Debbie Moore
    Posted at 14:35h, 28 September Reply

    I was diagnosed with Vestibular Migraines several years ago, maybe before they were named. The ENT surgeon initially diagnosed me with Migranous Menieres.
    I would have severe pressure in my head and the as soon as the pressure stopped I developed Menieres symptoms. I would fall to the ground, lean against a wall, throw up due to nausea, experience the sound of a train in my right ear, and extreme dizziness. I could not hear what people said although I heard talking. I felt like my body temperature was 120 degrees. This would last for 30 minutes to a few hours. Then I would be exhausted and sleep for 24 hours. After 18 months of doctors and tests, I found Dr. John McElveen in Raleigh, NC. I talked with him for 5 minutes and he told me I was experiencing a form of migraine with Menieres symptoms. Later, the term Vestibular Migraines came out and I knew that was my condition.
    All of this came about after a severe blow to the head in a car accident. Dr. McElveen sent me to a headache clinic in Asheville, NC and they prescribed Paxil.
    Dr. McElveen said he wished they had never named it an anti-depressant because it helped so many patients with migraines.
    Within 2 weeks, I received my life back. I was able to drive, teach, walk, leave the house and function as a semi-normal person. I have to rest, cannot go long without eating protein, and occasionally weather systems bother me.
    Thank you for all you do to help patients. Until you experience something like this you have no idea what it can do to your life!

  • Denise Schneider
    Posted at 06:08h, 30 September Reply

    Debbie, that is great! I am glad you received your life back!

    I am a physical therapist and see patients with migrainous vertigo, headaches, and vestibular issues. It is so fulfilling when patients are able to make positive changes, resume function, and have quality of life back.

    Physical therapy, has been demonstrated to play an effective role in the treatment of patients with migrainous vertigo. People who suffer from migrainous vertigo may have symptoms such as: nausea, imbalance, sensitivity to head movement, sensitivity to visual stimuli, and/or feelings of falling or tilting. Physical therapy consists of vestibular rehabilitation to address these symptoms. Physical therapy interventions may include: eye tracking exercises, balance exercises, gait training, head movements, postural exercises, and general conditioning. Physical therapists who treat this disorder have specialized training to do so. Therefore, when considering physical therapy, it is necessary to receive treatment from that one that has additional training and/or a certificate in vestibular rehabilitation.

    Bisdorff, A. Management of vestibular migraine. Ther Adv Neurol Disord. May 2011; 4(3) 183-191. .
    Dieterich, M et al. Vestibular migraine: the most frequent entity of episodic vertigo. J Neurol. 2016; 263: 82–89.

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