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Migraines With Vision Problems and Vertigo

Migraines With Vision Problems and Vertigo

  • Vision Problems
  • Vertigo and Dizziness
  • Treatment for Migraines and Related Symptoms

Many people who get migraines also have problems with their vision as well as dizziness or vertigo along with the headaches.

These effects can be scary and troubling. But they usually get much better or even disappear with treatment. Lifestyle changes, medications, and complementary therapies can help migraines and their related symptoms.

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Understanding Migraine — Symptoms

The symptoms of migraines include:

A brief period of depression, irritability, anxiety, moodiness, and decreased appetite as much as 24 hours before the onset of a headache
Symptoms of an aura an hour or less before head pain starts
A severe, throbbing headache, sometimes concentrated on only one side of the head or around one eye lasting between four and 72 hours
A headache that worsens with exertion

Nausea and vomiting

Extreme sensitivity to light, so painful to t…

Read the Understanding Migraine — Symptoms article > >

Vision Problems

Before about 2 in 10 migraines, you’ll get an aura, which often includes visual symptoms:

  • Blind spots
  • Flashing lights
  • Spots of light
  • Wavy lines in your field of vision

Vision problems usually start 20 minutes to an hour before the headache. Even if you don’t get an aura to warn you, the headache itself may cause vision trouble.

A retinal migraine causes a variety of visual symptoms, possibly blindness in one eye, before and during the headache. Fortunately, these problems go away with it, but permanent vision loss may be a complication of this type of migraine.

Other serious conditions, such as optic nerve problems or a tear in the arteries that supply blood to your brain, can also cause one-sided blindness. See your doctor as soon as you can to rule them out.

Vertigo and Dizziness

Migraines are one of the leading causes of dizziness. More than one-fourth of the people in the U.S. who have migraines get this uncomfortable symptom. Dizziness and vertigo are more common when you have migraines with aura.

You may feel lightheaded or unsteady — vertigo makes it seem like the room is spinning. It may happen before or at the same time as the headache. Sometimes you won’t get a headache at all. The symptoms may last anywhere from a few seconds to days.

The sensations are actually related to your inner ear. In fact, some people who have vertigo with their migraines also have other ear and hearing problems such as sound sensitivity and ringing in their ears.

A basilar-type migraine is the most likely to cause vertigo. It’s also likely to cause ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and coordination difficulties.

Some people who have migraine-related vertigo don’t get this symptom until several years after their headache episodes begin.

Doctors have a hard time diagnosing vertigo caused by migraine. That’s because people who have these headaches often have other conditions that may cause dizziness, too, including anxiety, depression, and low blood pressure related to their body position.

Migraines With Vision Problems and Vertigo

  • Vision Problems
  • Vertigo and Dizziness
  • Treatment for Migraines and Related Symptoms

Treatment for Migraines and Related Symptoms

Many people can lessen or get rid of their headache and its problems by changing their daily habits:

  • Avoid trigger foods, including chocolate, peanuts, and red wine.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Lower your stress level.
  • Get regular exercise.

No surefire medication will work for everyone who gets migraines. But you have options that, alone or in combination, can relieve the headaches and associated vision issues, dizziness, and vertigo.

Some prescriptions block migraines before they start.

  • Amitriptyline, an antidepressant
  • Topiramate, a seizure medication
  • Verapamil, also used for high blood pressure, chest pain, and irregular heart rhythm

Your doctor may prescribe drugs called triptans, including sumatriptan and rizatriptan, to stop migraines before they become full-blown.

A technique called a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may short-circuit a migraine by turning on your brain in a particular way. When you feel a headache coming, hold a small device that releases a pulse of magnetic energy on the back of your head for about a minute. You’ll need a prescription for this gadget, too.

Both prescribed and over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, may give you relief from the migraine’s effects.

Biofeedback and acupuncture can help you manage your stress as well as headache pain and other sensations.

WebMD Medical Reference

View Article Sources Sources


Vestibular Disorders Association: “Vestibular migraine.”

Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute.

American Hearing Research Foundation: “Migraine Associated Vertigo.”

National Headache Foundation: “Migraine.”

International Headache Society: “Retinal migraine.”

WebMD Medical Reference: “Types of migraine and headache medications.”

American Academy of Family Physicians, “Migraine headaches: Ways to deal with the pain.”

News release, FDA.

Reviewed by
Neil Lava, MD on July 15, 2016

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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