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Vestibular migraine: causes and symptoms

Man with migraine holding his head in pain
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What is a vestibular migraine?

A vestibular migraine causes vertigo, a feeling of dizziness and imbalance. You might become more sensitive to movement and find that moving your head or seeing moving images can worsen the symptoms. These episodes are normal spontaneous, occurring without a headache, or before or after a headache. The duration of the attacks can vary; you may experience vertigo for minutes, hours, or days.

What causes a vestibular migraine?

Similarly to other types of migraine, vestibular migraines can be triggered by eating certain foods, the amount of caffeine you are having as well as stress. You might find that particular activities can worsen your symptoms or if you haven’t had as much sleep as you need. Taking care of yourself by eating regularly, finding time in your day to relax as well as exercise can help to keep you feeling well, and prevent migraine attacks.

Can stress cause vestibular migraines?

It is not completely known what causes a vestibular migraine however they are triggered by a number of factors, such as dehydration, poor sleep, your diet and stress. Changes in the hormone balance of your body can cause you to have a migraine, that’s why it is important that you take care of yourself. Make sure that you are taking time out of your day to relax and unwind, as well staying hydrating and getting the right amount of sleep for you.

Vestibular migraine symptoms

Symptoms of a vestibular migraine can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Unsteadiness
  • Difficultly concentrating
  • Sensitivity to movement

Unlike other migraines, vestibular migraines are not always accompanied by a headache or pain behind the eyes; however the triggers that cause this type of migraine are similar.

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Vestibular migraine treatment

Treatment recommendations for vestibular migraines centre on managing your triggers and living a healthy lifestyle. If you know that a lack of sleep or not eating enough trigger your migraines then it’s important that you create a meal and bed time routine that you can easily follow.

Exercising regularly and managing your stress levels can also help to fend off attacks, however if you are having frequent episodes or they are severe then your GP can offer advice. They will be able to prescribe medication to help not only ease the symptoms but also stop the migraines occurring.