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Can Migraines Cause Permanent Damage

Posterior Circulation Territory Infarcts

Dr. Peter Goadsby on Migraine and Brain Lesions

Based on our finding of an increased prevalence of posterior circulation infarct-like lesions in migraineurs, we further focused on these lesions. Of all 60 identified subclinical brain infarcts, 39 were in the posterior circulation territory, and a majority of these were located in the cerebellum. Lesions were often multiple, and round or oval shaped, with a mean diameter of 7 mm. The majority of infratentorial infarct-like lesions had a vascular border zone location in the cerebellum. Prevalence of these border zone lesions differed between controls , cases with migraine without aura and cases with migraine with aura . Besides higher age, cardiovascular risk factors were not more prevalent in migraineurs with posterior circulation infarct-like lesions compared to those without lesions. The combination of vascular distribution, deep border zone location, shape, size and imaging characteristics on MRI makes it likely that the lesions have an ischaemic origin.

No previous study specifically reported on cerebellar lesions in migraine. But interestingly, subclinical cerebellar dysfunction has been reported in migraineurs, which raises the question whether more advanced functional tests would have identified cerebellar dysfunction in our cases.

Is Retinal Migraine Dangerous

Most often, a retinal migraine attacks will subside after a short time with no lasting harm, though it can affect your ability to drive safely.

Still, its worth discussing with your doctor and potentially getting an eye examination to look into potential causes and rule out more serious concerns, such as a stroke in the eye.

Migraine with or without aura is a risk factor for stroke.

If its never happened before, losing vision in both eyes at the same time may also be a sign of a more serious problem.

Your head may start to hurt at the same time a retinal migraine affects your vision or up to 1 hour later, or you may not experience a headache at all.

The same is true for the more common migraine with aura.

Retinal migraine is considered relatively rare. Its more common for a different type of migraine to affect vision in both eyes, not just one.

Older research from 2005 puts the frequency at about

Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors

Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:

  • Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
  • Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
  • Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
  • Smoking.

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Dehydration Is Common With Sinus Infections

People who have suffered from chronic sinus infections are usually dehydrated.Dehydrationis caused by sinus pain, which is caused by the swelling of the nasal tissues and membranes in your nose. The swelling may lead to pressure on some of your pain receptors, triggering pain that affects your ability to drink fluids, resulting in dehydration. This can cause major health problems.

Dehydration is very dangerous. It can lead to heart failure because your blood pressure will drop. If you have any sinus infections, you should drink eight glasses of water each day. You can make soup or eat pasta and drink a lot of water.

Overestimating The Implications Of Lesions

Migraines can cause permanent brain damage

Goadsby and many other headache specialists say they are confident that the risk of long-term damage is not a cause for concern. Another study they cite to support this is a population-based study from The Netherlands called the CAMERA Study. In this study, researchers compared the brain scans of healthy control subjects and the scans of people with migraine with aura. They re-examined the same subjects nine years later to determine whether people with migraine developed new lesions and whether these lesions were associated with changes in concentration, memory, information processing, and other cognitive tasks, and found that people with migraine had a slight increase in the number of lesions but that there was no evidence of neurological impairment related to these changes.

These same changes can occur in children and adolescents. In addition, age is a known factor that increases the risk of these tiny white matter lesions. The EVA study, a French population-based study on migraine and cognitive decline, conducted brain scans and cognitive function tests on subjects with and without migraine who were born between 1922 and 1932. Again, they found no correlation between the observed brain changes and any evidence of cognitive dysfunction.

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Genetic And Epigenetic Component Of Migraine

Genetic factors may determine susceptibility to migraine, while different environmental factors can contribute to the development of a migraine attack . Mainly through genome-wide association studies , which tested for differences in allele frequencies of single nucleotide polymorphisms over the genome in migraine patients and controls , it is now understood that multigenetic variants, rather than individual genes, influence the susceptibility to migraine. Although GWAS in migraine, similarly to other disorders studied with GWAS , failed to shed light on the molecular changes that are responsible for the evolutive nature of migraine, one can envisage that combined knowledge from many variants will highlight which molecular pathways potentially could be involved in migraine pathophysiology .

Regardless of these outcomes, due to their small effect size no single SNP has any clinical use in predicting the risk of developing migraine. There is still a big challenge in the field of GWAS to link associated SNPs to actual genes and pathways. GWAS in migraine are yet to offer further knowledge on the functional consequences of the associated SNPs and how they influence susceptibility to migraine.

Is there a role for epigenetic mechanisms in migraine susceptibility and chronification?

Compromised Blood Supply To Auditory System

According to a study conducted by researchers at Assiut University Hospital in Egypt, there is a correlation between migraines and hearing loss. Out of 58 migraine sufferers, two-thirds had one or more abnormalities with their cochlea function and auditory pathways. Researchers need to conduct more studies to determine exactly how migraines can cause hearing loss. However, these particular researchers hypothesized that the abnormalities could be a result of compromised blood supply to the auditory system during migraine attacks.

Other researchers support these claims. According to a study published by JAMA Neurology, migraines can damage the small hairs in the inner ear. These hairs convert sound vibrations into electrical signals sent to the brain. If the hairs dont receive an adequate supply of blood, they can eventually become damaged and die. During a migraine, a vasospasm of the labyrinthine arteries can cut off the supply of blood to the auditory system. This can lead to gradual, yet permanent hearing loss.

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What Causes A Migraine

The cause of migraine headaches is complicated and not fully understood. When you have a headache its because specific nerves in your blood vessels send pain signals to your brain. This releases inflammatory substances into the nerves and blood vessels of your head. Its unclear why your nerves do that.

When Should I Seek Immediate Help Or Contact My Healthcare Provider

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  • You are experiencing the worst headache of my life.
  • You are having neurologic symptoms that youve never had before, including speaking difficulty, balance problems, vision problems, mental confusion, seizures or numbing/tingling sensations.
  • Your headache comes on suddenly.
  • You have a headache after experiencing a head injury.

Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if:

  • The number or severity of your headaches increase or your headache pattern changes.
  • Your medications no longer seem to be working or youre experiencing new or different side effects.

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What Commonly Triggers A Migraine

People who get migraines may be able to identify triggers that seem to kick off the symptoms. Some possible triggers include the following:

  • Stress and other emotions
  • Biological and environmental conditions, such as hormonal shifts or exposure to light or smells
  • Fatigue and changes in one’s sleep pattern
  • Glaring or flickering lights

What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines

Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.

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Can Migraine Cause Permanent Damage

According to the American Headache Society, migraine does not result in long-term brain damage.

The organization references two population studies that took brain scans of people with and without migraine to study the long-term effects on the brain.

After 910 years, researchers found white lesions on the brain in some individuals with migraine, but these changes had no link to any changes in cognitive or brain function.

The AMF also confirms that research has found white matter lesions in some people with migraine, but that these lesions usually have no link with cognitive decline or neurological problems.

Migraine can cause the following complications.

Imaging The Migraine Generators In Chronic Migraine


Although our understanding of the pathophysiology of migraine has progressed over the last years, where exactly migraine attacks originate is still an unresolved question. Several studies demonstrated a selective activation of the dorsal pons during spontaneous and nitroglycerin-triggered migraine attacks, which persisted after complete pain-resolution due to triptan administration , in patients with episodic migraine. Thus, leading the authors to hypothesize that this brainstem region might represent the so-called migraine generator. An increased cerebral metabolism in the pons has also been described in patients with chronic migraine during and outside the headache phase . Similar to episodic migraine, the dysfunctional activation of this brainstem region did not change after electrical suboccipital stimulation, supporting the key role of this region in migraine attack generation as well as in migraine chronification .

Relative to episodic migraine, an increased activation of the hypothalamus seems to facilitate the recruitment of cortical areas involved in pain processing in chronic migraine patients .

In conjunction with functional alterations, structural plasticity of the anterior hypothalamus has been demonstrated in patients with chronic migraine. A hypothalamic volume lower than 1.43 ml had a good diagnostic accuracy for chronic migraine with sensitivity of 81% and specificity of 100% .

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Can Ect Cause Permanent Brain Damage

Can ECT cause permanent brain damage? ECT can cause severe and permanent memory loss, brain damage, suicide, cardiovascular complications, intellectual impairment and even death. As of early 2017, the WA Chief Psychiatrists ECT Guidelines recommended ECT consent form, states: In some people, memory loss may be severe and can even be permanent.

Does ECT treatment cause brain damage? Does ECT Cause Brain Damage? There is no evidence that, in the era of modern ECT, it causes brain damage, .

Does ECT cause permanent damage? Some studies also suggest that ECT causes long lasting or permanent memory damage, they add, although ECT advocates claim this memory loss is caused by depression not ECT itself.

Can you recover from ECT damage? Many people experience memory loss after having ECT. Some people find this only lasts for a short time and their memories gradually return as they recover from ECT.

Stroke And Cardiovascular Disease

As we noted above, specific lesions or damage to the brain has been observed over the course of migraine progression. This may contribute to and explain the presence of cardiovascular disorders in the later stages of life. It is important to remember, however, that statistics still show these as rare occurrences even if there is a higher inherent risk.

  • Stroke: Those diagnosed with migraine with auraparticularly after the age of 50 yearshave a particular concern for ischemic stroke later in life, according to researchers.12 Atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, has also been associated with migraine-related aurawhich directly increases the likelihood of stroke.13 Its also important to note that other non-aura migraine types and earlier development can lead to elevated stroke risk.
  • Other Cardiovascular Diseases: Findings remain inconsistent as to whether chronic migraine leads to coronary heart disease and hypertension .11 While the link is unclear, patients must still pay close attention to any changes in their heart functioning.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

  • Will my child grow out of their migraines?
  • What medications do you recommend for me?
  • What should I change about my lifestyle to prevent my migraine headaches?
  • Should I get tested?
  • What type of migraine do I have?
  • What can my friends and family do to help?
  • Are my migraines considered chronic?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Migraine headaches can be devastating and make it impossible to go to work, school or experience other daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to possibly prevent a migraine and other ways to help you manage and endure the symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to keep migraines from ruling your life.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.


How Is Retinal Migraine Diagnosed

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There arent any specific tests to diagnose a retinal migraine.

If you see a doctor or optometrist during a retinal migraine attack, they may use a tool called an ophthalmoscope to check for decreased blood flow to your eye, but this generally isnt feasible because attacks are usually brief.

Doctors typically diagnose a retinal migraine by investigating the symptoms, conducting a general examination, and reviewing a personal and family medical history.

Retinal migraine is usually diagnosed by a process of exclusion, meaning that symptoms such as transient blindness cant be explained by other serious eye diseases or conditions.

If you need help finding a primary care doctor or optometrist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.

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The Evolutive Migraine Attack

Migraine is cyclic disorders with a complex sequence of symptoms within every headache attack. In its episodic form, migraine is characterised by recurrent attacks involving different phases: . A premonitory phase prior to the onset of the actual headache, characterised by symptoms, such as excessive yawning, thirst, somnolence, food craving, cognitive difficulties, and mood changes . Transient neurological symptoms, known as migraine aura , that occur just before the actual headache starts . . An intense headache attack, usually involving only one site of the head, which can be exacerbated by movement and accompanied with hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli , nausea . The postdrome phase which is mainly characterised by symptoms of fatigue, difficulties in concentration and comprehension, and neck stiffness . During the interictal phase, although patients may appear normal, genetic predisposition and a number of triggers make them susceptible to an attack.

Fig. 1

Migraine is cyclic disorders with a complex sequence of symptoms within every headache attack. In its episodic form, migraine is characterised by recurrent attacks involving different phases, with a complex sequence of symptoms within every phase. Significant advances have been made in characterising migraine as a brain disorder and in identifying evolutive functional changes in different brain areas during the different phases of a migraine attack

What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine

Migraine with aura . This is a headache, plus:

  • Visual symptoms or vision loss.
  • Sensory symptoms .

Migraine without aura . A common migraine is a headache and:

  • The attacks included pain on one side of your head.
  • Youve had at least five attacks, each lasting between four and 72 hours.

Plus, youve experienced at least one of the following:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Lights bother you and/or you avoid light.
  • Sounds bother you and/or you avoid sounds.

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Migraines ‘can Cause Permanent Brain Damage’

Migraines can cause permanent brain damage, especially in those who experience flashing lights before the onset, a study has found.

Experts have discovered that migraines, which affect 10 to 15 per cent of the population, raise the risk of white matter brain lesions and altered brain volume compared with people without the disorder.

The association was even stronger in those with migraine with aura when there is a warning sign before the migraine begins. Dr Messoud Ashina, one of the studys authors from the University of Copenhagen, said: Traditionally, migraine has been considered a benign disorder without long-term consequences for the brain. Our review and meta-analysis study suggests that the disorder may permanently alter brain structure in multiple ways.

Dr Ashina reviewed 19 studies to see whether people who experienced migraine had an increased risk of brain lesions, silent abnormalities or brain volume changes on MRI brain scans compared with those without the condition.

The results showed that migraine with aura increased the risk of white matter brain lesions by 68 per cent and migraine with no aura increased the risk by 34 per cent.

The risk for brain abnormalities increased by 44 per cent for those with migraine with aura compared with those without aura. Brain volume changes were also more common in people with migraine and migraine with aura than those with no migraines.

How Long Does Retinal Migraine Last

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The visual effects of a retinal migraine usually last no more than an hour.

Not all retinal migraine attacks come with a headache or nausea, but such symptoms may last longer potentially for more than a day.

Both children and adults of any age can experience retinal migraine. These tend to be more common in the following groups:

  • people under 40 years old
  • women
  • people with a family history of retinal migraine or headaches
  • people with a personal history of migraine or headaches

People with certain illnesses that impact the blood vessels and eyes may also be at risk. These illnesses include:

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