Most people associate “migraine” with “headache.” While it is true that headaches are a common symptom of vestibular migraines, this is not always the case. Other symptoms may include:
- Vertigo (spinning)
- Motion intolerance (usually in adults)
- Spatial disorientation (inability to determine your body’s position)
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Episodes of vertigo can last from minutes to hours and are often, but not always, accompanied by other symptoms. Since the symptoms are so varied, many patients are mistakenly diagnosed with sinus headaches or Meniere’s disease (an inner ear condition responsible for vertigo).
Causes of Vestibular Migraine
Vestibular migraine is thought to be a combination of two factors:
- Dilation (enlargement) of certain blood vessels in the brain
- The release of chemicals responsible for inflammation and pain. This can affect the sympathetic nervous system, triggering nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
While the exact cause of migraine may be uncertain, there are known triggers that may lead to an attack:
- Hormonal changes
- Certain foods (cheese, chocolate and red wine)
- Bright or flickering light
- Changes in atmospheric pressure
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Disrupted sleep patterns
Vestibular Migraine Treatment
Migraine symptoms are typically not treated by ENT or audiology specialists. If vestibular migraine is suspected, you may be referred to a neurologist.