Managing Ocular Migraines And Stroke Risk
Besides avoiding common triggers, there are several other ways to reduce your risk of ocular migraines.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is the best way to improve your vascular health, which will help prevent both stroke and migraines. It also releases endorphins that reduce stress, a common migraine trigger.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes blood vessels to shrink, which increases the risk of migraines and stroke. Drinking enough water increases blood volume, making your blood flow easier through your veins.
- Meditation is another great way to reduce stress, which will help you manage your migraines.
These methods also help lower your risk of stroke, which makes them great healthy habits for individuals that struggle with ocular migraines.
What Migraine Sufferers Need To Know About Stroke Risk
Try not to let it give you a headache, but be aware: People who suffer migraines, especially women, seem to have a higher risk of stroke.
“It’s not like people with migraines should be waiting anxiously about the possibility of having a stroke, but it does occur,” said Dr. Mitchell Elkind, a New York City neurologist and professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“More work needs to be done, but I think it’s accepted among physicians that among women, migraine with aura is associated with a doubling of risk.”
First, some perspective: According to the federal Office on Women’s Health, about 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, the recurring, throbbing headaches that can be debilitating and accompanied by nausea and weakness.
A particularly alarming variation of the disorder is known as migraine with aura. That’s when the headache is accompanied by sensory disturbances ranging from seeing flashes of light and zigzag lines to tingling sensations and difficulty speaking.
Three-fourths of migraine sufferers are women. Of the roughly 800,000 strokes suffered each year in the United States, the American Migraine Foundation estimates just 2,000-3,000 of them are linked to migraines.
But the link is there, and it likely runs through the arteries.
The best response to the uncertainty starts at the doctor.
With older patients, Elkind said, doctors watch for the onset of headaches or changes in existing migraine patterns.
Is There A Connection Between Strokes And Ocular Migraines
Currently, there isnt a definitive answer. But some researchers believe that ocular migraine and stroke have a connection. The connection, they believe, has to do with damage to the cells lining your blood vessels. The inflammation of the cells can cause them to become stiff and hence increase the risk of suffering a stroke.
Also, people who have migraine with aura are twice as likely to suffer a stroke as those who have no migraines.
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Link Between Visual Migraine And Stroke
According to the Stroke Association, a person who experiences migraine with aura is twice as likely to have an ischemic stroke in their lifetime. However, the overall risk is still low. A person is more likely to experience a stroke due to other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and smoking.
One 2017 review suggests that young females who experience migraine with aura may have a higher risk of having a stroke and recommends that they stop smoking to reduce this risk. Also, if they are using birth control, they should ensure that it has low estrogen levels.
Additionally, the researchers behind a
Eliminate Other Causes Of Ocular Migraine Stroke Risks
Your doctor will most likely order some tests to help eliminate other neurological causes like those mentioned above.
This is very important. Never just take things for granted.
S/he will eliminate risk factors like: blood clots, brain tumors and other types of strokes. Once anything serious is ruled out, you can focus on attempting to find the triggers that set off your ocular attacks.
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Types Of Ocular Migraines
- Migraine With Aura
Ocular migraine with aura is a recurring headache that typically starts at the same time or after sensory disturbances known as an aura. These disturbances include visual changes such as blind spots, tingling in your face or hands. At times, the aura can occur without having a headache.
- Retinal Migraine
These migraines typically refer to symptoms that manifest only in one eye during or before the headache phase of the migraine episode. Retinal migraines tend to happen repetitively and are short-lasting accompanied by blindness or diminished vision.
The loss of vision is not related to migraines. A more severe underlying condition causes the loss of vision. You might need to see a doctor immediately to get your eyes checked.
You Can Still Take Birth Control
If youre a woman who suffers from migraines with aura, you may have heard that theres also an elevated risk of stroke if you take estrogen-based oral contraceptives. However, if you have no other risk factors , a migraine specialist may feel comfortable prescribing these to you. It may also stabilize your estrogen levels to make your migraines better, says Dr. Wall.;
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How Can You Tell The Difference
It can be hard to tell the difference between a migraine with aura and a TIA. Here’s what to look for:
- With a stroke, symptoms usually come on suddenly. With a migraine, they happen gradually; the headache usually starts small and gets more painful.
- A stroke is more likely to have what are called “negative” symptoms such as you might lose sight in one eye or lose feeling in one of your hands or feet. A migraine is more likely to have “positive” symptoms. That means added sensations, like flashes in your vision or tingling in your skin.
- If you’re young, it’s more likely to be a migraine. If you’re older, it’s more likely to be a stroke, especially if you’ve never had a migraine before or you have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat.
Migraine With Aura Raises Stroke Risk Slightly
While migraine typically does not cause stroke, having migraine with aura can put people at a slightly higher risk of stroke. Liberman stresses that the increased risk is generally small, and people who have migraine should get to know their symptoms and not live in fear of having a stroke.
When stroke occurs as a complication of migraine with aura, its called migrainous stroke or migrainous infarction. Migrainous stroke is an uncommon occurrence. According to an article published in 2017 in Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, it accounts for only 0.2 to 0.5 percent of all ischemic strokes. In the United States, that would mean about 2,000 to 4,000 out of the nearly 800,000 strokes that occur each year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.
While many theories have been put forth about why migraine with aura raises the risk of stroke, some of which are discussed in the Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports article, ultimately, migraine researchers dont know why this association exists.
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When To See A Doctor
A person should speak to a healthcare professional if their headache symptoms worsen over a few days.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommend that people seek immediate medical attention if they experience a sudden, severe headache accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- stiff neck
- vision impairment, such as blurred or double vision
- loss of sensation or weakness in any part of the body
- shortness of breath
People may want to consider speaking with their doctor if their headache symptoms worsen over several days.
Statistics For Ocular Migraines And Stroke Risk
If you were suspicious that migraines and stroke were connected, you were right.
Migraine sufferers are at a higher risk of ischemic stroke, which is the type of stroke caused by a blood clot obstructing an artery in the brain.
The risk of stroke almost triples for those who suffer from regular ocular migraines, according to the American Stroke Association.
Of course,;that does not mean that every person who experiences an ocular migraine will suffer a stroke, only that their risk is higher than the average population.
But what exactly is an ocular migraine anyway?
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How Long Does An Ocular Migraine Last
Ocular migraines usually last between 30-60 minutes. If yours lasts longer, its best to seek advice from a healthcare professional to confirm that you are not experiencing the effects of an underlying health;condition.
Ocular migraines can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms and you may or may not have them;all.
Can You Have A Stroke During An Ocular Migraine Attack
In rare cases, a stroke can occur during an ocular migraine. Doctors call these strokes migraneous infarctions, and they account for only 0.5 percent of all stroke cases.
Migraneous infarctions can be even tougher to distinguish from an ocular migraine;because they also involve an aura.
The difference is, the aura during an infarction lasts much longer than a;migraine. Most auras only last around 30 minutes.
If you continue to see flashing or shimmering lights for over an hour, seek treatment right away.
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What Is An Ocular Migraine
First off, regular migraines are severe headaches that are caused by the cerebral blood vessels shrinking. This creates painful throbbing or pulsing in the skull.
Ocular migraines display the same symptoms as normal migraines, but they also include visual disturbances called auras.
Auras can look like flashing, zigzagging, or shimmering lights or stars. Sometimes they even cause blindness in one or both eyes. Many people report seeing these auras before they feel the ocular migraine.
Other aura symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling in hands and face
- Feeling mentally foggy or confused
- Impaired sense of touch, taste, or smell
These symptoms overlap with common stroke symptoms, which include:
- Weakness in the arm or leg
- Facial drooping
So, how can you tell the difference?
Visual Impairments Associated With Migraine Can Happen With Or Without A Headache
Ocular Migraine is a term that has been used to refer to a number of migraine subtypes that are characterized by a variety of visual disturbances including visual loss, blind spots, zig-zag lines, or seeing stars. Unlike other forms of migraine, they may occur without any accompanying head pain. Its not uncommon for a single patient to experience a wide range of visual symptoms. Heres what you need to know to better understand the migraine subtypes that affect vision.
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Can I Have A Visual Migraine Without A Headache
Definitely. It is actually very common to have a visual migraine without any headache. The medical term for this is acephalgic migraine, which literally means migraine symptoms without headache. Except for the absence of a headache, the visual symptoms in acephalgic migraine are identical to the episodes that accompany a classic migraine aura.
Stroke Or Migraine The Migraine
Migraine is the most common neurological disorder, affecting 10% to 15% of adults in the U.S. According to a study published in the Journal of Stroke, people who suffer from migraine headaches have increased risks for a variety of vascular diseases, including ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.
TheNational Headache Foundation reported that people who have migraine with aura are more than twice as likely to have an ischemic stroke as people who have migraine without aura. In addition to a severe headache, it is these aura symptoms that can mimic some of the signs of a stroke or transient ischemic stroke .
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Can I Get Rid Of Kaleidoscope Vision
Currently, no cure exists for migraine.
Kaleidoscope vision, along with any other migraine symptoms, will typically go away on their own within an hour. People can take medications that relieve painful symptoms and prevent migraine episodes from developing in the first place.
People who experience aura often find relief from sitting or lying down in a dark, quiet room.
A drug called erenumab targets calcitonin receptors to effectively prevent migraine episodes. The Food and Drug Administration have approved its use in adults only.
People can discuss treatment options with their doctor. Medications that help treat migraine include:
Massaging the scalp and applying a damp cloth to the forehead may help alleviate migraine pain.
Having kaleidoscope vision can be frightening, but this symptom will typically pass in a few minutes. People should relax and wait for their vision to return to normal before moving around, driving, or operating machinery.
What Is Ocular Migraine
According to the American Migraine Foundation, about 25 to 30 percent of people with migraine experience aura, and less than 20 percent have it with every attack.
- sparkling or shimmering spots
- speech changes
Certain things, like bright or flashing light, can trigger migraine with aura.
An attack usually starts with a small spot that slowly expands. It might dart away when you try to focus on it. You may still see it when you close your eyes.
These can be disturbing, but theyre temporary and not usually harmful.
The attack typically lasts 20 to 30 minutes, after which vision returns to normal.
For some people, this aura is a warning sign that migraine pain and other symptoms will soon hit. Others have aura and pain at the same time.
An attack can also happen by itself, with no pain. This is called acephalgic migraine or silent migraine.
Migraine with aura isnt the same as retinal migraine, which is more serious. Retinal migraine happens in only one eye and can cause temporary blindness or in some cases, irreversible damage.
Having migraine with aura doesnt mean youre having a stroke or that stroke is about to happen. If you have migraine with aura, though, you may be at a higher risk of stroke.
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Reduce Stress Where Possible
Stress is always considered a trigger for migraines, so make an effort to stay away from stressful situations where humanly possible.
Your lifestyle choices can definitely effect the occurrence of your migraine attacks. Exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, stay well hydrated and enjoy yourself as often as you can.
And learn some relaxation techniques. Here are a few articles I’ve already written that you can experiment with:
Knowing what to watch for can reduce your anxiety!
To educate yourself and stay on top of things… stay in touch.
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A Guide To Ocular Migraine: Everything You Need To Know
We have all experienced different types of headaches. Most adults get headaches now and then, but how do you know if its serious? But there is a throbbing excruciating pain in your head that usually signals that you do not have a normal headache.
These are signs that you might be having a migraine. The most common neurological disorder is the migraine. It is estimated that a whopping 30 million Americans are suffering from migraines each year. What is even worse is that if you suffer from migraines, you are more likely to suffer a stroke.
Different types of migraines are caused by different things, each with a different set of symptoms.
An ocular migraine is a type of migraine that involves visual interference. Since some migraines, including the ocular migraine with aura, can show similar symptoms as life-threatening conditions, you need to know the differences and knowing when it as an emergency.
Treating And Coping With Migraines
Even if the migraines exist alone and are not a symptom of an underlying condition, they can still be debilitating and impact your life. If youre experiencing blind spots or vision disturbances, for example, you will want to wait until they pass before driving.
Ocular migraines will typically go away on their own within 30 minutes. You should rest and avoid triggers such as bright lights until the vision disturbances are gone.
There are both over the counter treatments and prescription medications that can be used to treat recurring migraines. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or Excedrin migraine can be used to reduce the symptoms of a migraine once you already have them. Your doctor can prescribe you:
- beta blockers, to relax blood vessels
- calcium channel blockers, which can prevent the blood vessels from constricting
- anti-epileptics or antidepressants, which are sometimes used to treat and prevent migraines
Some of these prescription medications will be taken on a regular basis instead of an as-needed basis when you get the migraines.
If youre experiencing ocular migraine pain, you can:
- lie down or sit in a dark, quiet room
- massage your scalp with a lot of pressure
- put pressure on your temples
- put a damp towel over your forehead
Consulting A Medical Professional
If you are familiar with these kinds of symptoms, and experience them on a regular basis, its important go to your doctor when you are experiencing new symptoms that are out of the ordinary. In this case, they will likely want to run some tests.
When this happens, doctors and specialists run tests on your brain and functioning to confirm that your migraine was in fact just that, and not anything more serious. The bottom line is that you want to be cautious but you also dont want to panic and think youre experiencing something life-threatening when you arent.
As we often recommend to readers, its always better to err on the side of caution when dealing with pain and brain-related symptoms and therapy, and consult a doctor if youre feeling symptoms that make you feel uncomfortable.
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