What Does An Attack Look Like
There are four distinct phases of a migraine attack: prodrome, aura, headache, postdrome. You dont have to experience all the phases. In fact, only about 20% of people with migraine have an aura. Understanding the phases can help you manage the disease better.
The prodrome and aura phases usually occur before the headache develops. Prodrome may precede the migraine attack by several hours or even days. Typical prodrome symptoms include extreme tiredness and yawning, irritability or moodiness, difficulty concentrating, and food cravings. About 75% of people with migraine experience a prodromebut often they dont recognize it as the beginning of an attack. Aura is rarer and usually begins just before the headache starts. Most people experience changes in their vision, while others notice tingling, numbness or trouble speaking.
These symptoms can serve as a warning sign and allow you to take acute medication before the headache begins. Identifying and treating a migraine early can even help prevent further symptoms in some people.
What Are Rebound Migraines
Women who use acute pain-relief medicine more than two or three times a week or more than 10 days out of the month can set off a cycle called rebound. As each dose of medicine wears off, the pain comes back, leading the patient to take even more. This overuse causes your medicine to stop helping your pain and actually start causing headaches. Rebound headaches can occur with both over-the-counter and prescription pain-relief medicines. They can also occur whether you take them for headache or for another type of pain. Talk to your doctor if youre caught in a rebound cycle.
How Long Is Too Long For A Migraine
How long is too long for a migraine? A typical migraine lasts between four and 72 hours. If a migraine lasts longer than 72 hours, it is paramount to consult with a doctor. Also, if a person experiences 15 or more headache days per month, a doctor may diagnose this individual with chronic migraines.
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What Are Their Symptoms
The main symptom that gives this condition its name is intermittent pain throughout the abdominal region that can be quite severe in intensity. This pain is usually not localized and is often described as dull or sore. The abdominal pain may last for an hour or as long as three days. Additional symptoms of abdominal migraines may include:
- Pallor, sudden paleness of the skin most often located in the face and palms
- Inability to eat
My Vision Went Black Except For A Silver Crescent
The first time it happened while I was busily working on the computer. Suddenly my vision dulled and a silver crescent appeared. Since this experience was brand new, it took a few seconds to process what was happening. I stopped typing and closed my left eye so I could only see through the right. Everything was black except for that shimmering crescent on the right edge of my vision.
What Makes A Silent Migraine Different
This is a general guideline of how migraine works, but it can vary from person to person and even from episode to episode for the same person. A silent migraine includes all of the above phases, minus the pain, and with a few extra physical symptoms.
Silent migraine sufferers may experience extremes of the following physical symptoms:
- Food cravings and loss of appetite
- Extreme thirst and frequent urination
Their visual symptoms in phase one can also be extreme. They may include wavy lines or floating dots, flashing lights, hallucinations, difficulty with speech, and tunnel vision. Silent migraine sufferers may also temporarily lose their speech, may experience auditory hallucinations, and may have a distorted sense of smell or taste. A silent migraine is a full sensory experience that can be enough to limit the ability to function. They can last anywhere from an hour or two to several days, just like types of migraines with pain.
What Are The Side Effects Of Migraine Treatment
Preventive medication does not always stop the headaches completely and medications may lead to certain side-effects.
- Topiramate may cause diarrhoea, nausea, weight loss, memory difficulties and concentration problems.
- Triptans can cause sleepiness, tingling sensations, tightness in the throat and chest, flushing.
- Ergotamines can cause nausea,
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Tips For Dealing With A Silent Migraine
Silent migraines are those without pain. Apart from the lack of pain, they share similarities with standard migraine attacks and can be just as debilitating. In a typical migraine attack, its not just the pain sufferers have to deal with. There are many other severe symptoms that manifest over a period of hours or days.
Natural Relief For Migraines Is Available
Remember that migraines, especially silent migraines or migraine with aura, seem to be related to blood flow to the brain. Well, proper blood flow to the brain is facilitated by the cervical spine. How? The vertebrae in the neck have tiny loops of bone called vertebral foramen. These allow a place for the vertebral arteries to flow through on their way to the brain.
Unfortunately, this means that a misalignment can affect that free flow of blood. It has been noted in numerous migraine and headache patients that an upper cervical subluxation exists. Correcting this misalignment has helped many people in case studies to experience fewer or less severe migraines. Some have even gone from dealing with chronic migraines to being completely migraine-free).
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The Effect On Patients
Research is a bit limited, but we know that migraine presents patients with a high burden from different symptoms. For a patient whos having visual aura that comes on in situations like driving, it can be very disconcerting. It definitely affects day-to-day functioning, even if headache and other features arent there. This is especially true if its the first time is happens or theres a change in how it presents. Typical aura without headachethe silent migrainecan be quite scary.
Jennifer Robblee, MD, is part of the Mayo Clinicin Scottsdale, Arizona
Your Er Doctor May Or May Not Be Very Familiar With Migraine
Watch a few episodes of Greys Anatomy, and it will become clear. Youre not going to get a board-certified headache specialist, or even a neurologist, in your local ER. After all, theyre trained to set a broken arm, remove a bullet and shock your heart. Stat!
I was taken to the ER in an ambulance with Migraine Aura, thinking I was having a stroke because half of my tongue was numb and I was slurring my speech . Of course, the doctor who saw me was pissed that I wasted his time, and talked to me like I was an idiot. Monica S.
That was my very last visit and I will NEVER go back for a migraine. It was very traumatic for me and made matters worse. I also think that ER docs are trained to treat emergencies and having a migraine is low on their list and not an emergency to themso you are handled in a very, very slow manner and a lot of times without compassion. Cherry S.
When I went the ER doctor was SUPER nice about it. They turned off the lights and made me do a CT scan. Since I had not had one that was like that, he was afraid I was having a stroke. Two days before I had gone in with the same migraine, but they treated it like a tension headache and acted like I was wasting their time. Megan P.
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Talk With Others Who Understand
On MyMigraineTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with migraine headaches, members talk about a range of personal experiences, including silent migraines.
Do you have silent migraines? Do you have tips on preventing silent migraines or treating them when they happen? Comment below or post your migraine tips and experiences at MyMigraineTeam. Youll be surprised to learn how many others share similar stories.
What Are Silent Migraine Causes
Researchers are beginning to look at migraines as more than just a vascular condition, focusing on the aura of silent migraine as a neurovascular event.
This means that silent migraine may have something to do with overstimulation and then suppression of nerve activities in the brain. This may lead to increased sensitivity and heightened or changed function in those areas of the brain that control the senses. The visual component seems to be the key to distinguishing a silent migraine from another condition.
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Treatments For Silent Migraine
It can be a little trickier to treat silent migraine, if only because theres no pain symptom that can be handled with an OTC pain reliever. Other than that, however, treatment of silent migraine isnt much different than it isfor traditional migraine .
First up is sensory deprivation: lying in a dark, quiet room can work wonders for soothing the sensory overload that may have triggered your migraine in the first place. If you can keep liquids down, be sure to hydrate since dehydration can worsen your symptoms.
You can also try alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, and vitamin supplementation. Magnesium, for example, has been classified by theAmerican Migraine Foundation as a supplement that is probably effective and generally considered safe for most people to use as a preventive treatment.
Finally, Dr. Segil says there are two pharmaceutical approaches to treating migraine: daily medications, which are taken to prevent episodes, and rescue medications, which are taken to relieve symptoms during an episode. Typically, doctors recommend using a daily medication if you have 14 or more migraine days per month. If you do not need daily preventive medication, then you can use rescue medication with symptoms.
While both of these types of medications can be used to address silent migraine in most cases, Dr. Segil warns that hemiplegic migraine is often handled differently because of its stroke-like symptoms.
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.
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Silent Migraine Symptoms Can Still Be Debilitating
What are the symptoms of a silent migraine if there is no pain phase? One of the most common symptoms is aura, which is interesting because this is one of the less common phases among migraineurs in general. When a person experiences aura, he or she may see spots, wavy lines, flashing lights, or experience tunnel vision. Other effects can occur besides just the visual ones. Hearing problems , tinnitus, speech problems, vertigo, dizziness, and numbness and tingling may also be present.
Of course, aura is not the only symptom of silent migraines. The patient may also experience nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, and chills. When all is said and done, a migraine can be just as bad without the head pain.
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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Diagnosis Of Silent Migraines
Diagnosing silent migraines can be tricky because, unlike other migraines, it does not show any symptoms of headache. People may also mistake it for other neurological disorders, or visual impairment and self-diagnosis may never be the solution.
One should make a note of the attacks, duration, and symptoms that are similar to silent migraines. Depending on these and many other factors, the doctor may find out if it is a silent migraine or any other attack.
Doctors may also go through your medical history of yours, your family, physical exams. They may also conduct some tests that may include: a spinal tap, blood tests, CT scans, and MRI scans.
As mentioned above, taking note of some physical or psychological changes may help diagnose silent migraines.
Below listed are a few such symptoms in phases that can be helpful:
What Are Some Migraine Risk Factors And Triggers
Some things make you more likely to get migraine headaches . Other things may bring on a migraine .
Common migraine risk factors include the following:
- Family history: You are much more likely to have migraines if one or both of your parents had migraines.
- Sex: Women are more likely than men to have migraines.
- Age: Most people have their first migraine during adolescence, but migraines can start at any age, usually before age 40.
Common migraine triggers include the following:
- Food and drink: Certain food and drink may cause migraines. Dehydration and dieting or skipping meals may also trigger migraines.
- Hormone changes: Women may experience migraines related to their menstrual cycles, to menopause, or to using hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy.
- Stress: Stress may trigger migraines. Stress includes feeling overwhelmed at home or work, but your body can also be stressed if you exercise too much or dont get enough sleep.
- Senses: Loud sounds, bright lights , or strong smells may trigger migraines.
- Medicines: Certain medicines may trigger migraines. If you think your migraines might be related to your medicine, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine.
- Illness: Infections, such as the cold or the flu, may trigger migraines, especially in children.
Foods that may trigger migraines:
- aged, canned, cured, or processed meat
- aged cheese
- soy sauce
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Some Relief In Young Adulthood
Much to my relief, the headaches tapered off in young adulthood with only an occasional crawl-into-bed-or-die episode. I thought I lucked out. Maybe Id gone through a phase in childhood that would subside for good after reaching full maturity. In a faith context, perhaps that trial by fire had earned me a reprieve on the strength of being quite the little trooper. If the kid can live through that kind of pain and not scream and pee herself, then she could meet real trouble and take it to the canvas like Cassius Clay did to Sonny Liston.
I would have settled for a merit badge and dinner at Bill Knapps. But apparently, Im a special case with a mandate to settle for more.
Symptoms Of Silent Migraines
The visual symptoms of an aura include blind spots or temporary blindness, flashing lights, and seeing sparkles, zigzag lines, or colored spots. One MyMigraineTeam member wrote that her migraine symptoms appeared as red lights flashing all around my room … the red flashing continued for a few minutes. Sometimes, it looks more like moving grayish flying shadows. Another wrote, My vision goes to nearly black with purple and green glowing lights that bubble back and forth like a ’70s-era lava lamp.
Other neurological symptoms include dizziness, numbness, tingling, and a feeling of weakness on one side of the body. A MyMigraineTeam member described a physical aura where the outside of my right calf starts aching. Some might describe it as numbness, but I think its pain.
These symptoms can be severe. Last week, I went to the emergency room because the left side of my body became weak and numb. I had a very hard time forming sentences or speaking much at all, a MyMigraineTeam member said. I did not have a stroke, which is what I thought was going on. This morning, the same weakness started again. My face all the way down to my leg feels numb and weak.
How can you tell the difference between a silent migraine and a TIA? It can be difficult, but migraine aura symptoms tend to develop slowly and intensify over time, and TIA symptoms appear all at once.
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How Is Silent Migraine Treated
For disorders, doctors use two types of drugspain relievers and preventive medicines. Pain relievers are not much use for silent migraines since there is no headache . Preventive medicines can be helpful if silent migraines are frequent, last a long time, or interfere with functioning. When silent migraines are infrequent and short, treatment may not be necessary. Keeping a symptom diary can help you and your doctor decide whether to start treatment or not.
Common types of preventive migraine medicines include:
Anticonvulsants or antiseizure drugs, which have various effects in the brain
Antidepressants, which balance brain chemicals that likely play a role in migraine
It May Also Indicate A Missing Migraine
Because its not an official diagnosis, a silent migraine can have multiple meanings. Someone may get that Im going to get a migraine feeling , but the aura or headache never shows up, adds Dr. Rothrock. That day you might feel foggy, your coordination may be off, or you may feel uneasy. Find out if you have one of these eight types of headaches.
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What Are Abdominal Migraines
Abdominal migraines occur most often in children who have a family history of migraines and typically start between the ages of two and ten. It is believed that 2% of children get abdominal migraines and, according to the American Headache Society, 4-15% of children who present with chronic abdominal pain actually have abdominal migraines. Women have a higher frequency of being diagnosed with this condition and children who experience abdominal migraines are at a higher risk of developing migraine headaches as adults.
Symptoms for abdominal migraines are quite atypical when compared with other migraine disorders. Children who suffer from this condition do not get the classic headaches along with the stomach pain, but they also do not get any preceding symptom, called auras, either. In fact, the abdominal pain and other effects are most often severe and abrupt rather than slow-to-build before an episode.