Migraine With Vertigo

Posted: April 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
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When my son was about 9 years old, his pediatrician suggested I take him to a neurologist for his persistent headaches. The neurologist asked me who in my family suffered from migraines. Nobody, I told him.

He then asked me if anybody ever got that “freeze brain” type of pain that accompanies eating something cold. Of course, I told him – everybody does. No, he told me, only people with migraines experience that reaction.

I wasn’t convinced. Who in you family suffers from car sickness, he wanted to know. My mother. She has migraines, he told me. No, she doesn’t, I argued. She gets headaches. I get headaches. Everybody gets headaches. But we don’t have migraines.

Not everybody gets headaches and yes, you do suffer from migraines. He should know; he was a neurologist. He taught me a lesson in migraines and I discovered that not only did my son and my mother suffer from migraines, so too did I.

I had always thought that migraines were so completely debilitating that people who experienced migraines had to be bedridden during an episode. The only headache that ever completely debilitated me though, was one that caused me more pain than I have ever experienced. When I discussed with the neurologist the symptoms of that headache, I found out that what I thought had been a migraine, was actually a cluster headache.

Cluster headaches are the most painful types of headaches. I had to ride a bus for an hour and a half and walk home a block and a half from the bus station in more pain than I can even explain – more pain than getting a tooth extracted – more pain than childbirth. I climbed into bed fully clothed and pulled the blankets over my head to drown out the light. Every breath I breathed felt as if a thousand hammers were being slammed into my head. The pain was so excruciating I wanted to cry, but I was in so much pain, I couldn’t cry – only pray for sleep. Even death would have been a welcome relief.

I thank God I have never had to go through that kind of pain again, and I’ve learned the difference between a migraine and a cluster headache. I get migraines frequently, but I can usually ward them off by ingesting three Advil Migraine tablets the second I feel one coming.

For some reason I missed that window of opportunity this past weekend. Over the past several days I have had a migraine that was so different from any of my previous migraines, I thought I would have to get somebody to take me to the ER.

Sleeping for me is usually difficult, so I toss and turn all night long every night. Every time I turned my head and body over to a different position this past weekend, however, I felt as if I was going to fall off my bed, and every trip to the bathroom resulted in me falling against the walls.

Ever since I can remember, I have not been able to look up without feeling dizzy. With this headache I could not look sideways without feeling dizzy. I got sick and was unable to eat all day Monday. I spent most of Tuesday in bed too. Then this morning I awoke at 3:00 and am now back on schedule – awaking intermittently throughout the night, tossing and turning all night long, getting very little sleep – only now I feel dizzy every time I turn. I hope to be rid of this feeling soon.

After some research, I discovered that what I experienced over the past three days was a combination of “Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)” and “Migrainous vertigo.”

According to MayoClinic.com, “Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you’re spinning or that your head is spinning inside.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is characterized by brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo are triggered by specific changes in the position of your head, such as tipping your head up or down, and by lying down, turning over or sitting up in bed. You may also feel out of balance when standing or walking.”

That explanation fit my experience perfectly. But that feeling occurs often when I’m not having a migraine and I’m just standing.

According to the same source regarding Migrainous vertigo, “Migraine is more than a headache disorder. Just as some people experience a visual ‘aura’ with their migraines, others can get vertigo episodes and have other types of dizziness between migraines.”

It’s just nice to know that what I have been experiencing has a name.

Want to read more from this author? Look at the upper left-hand side of this blog under, READ MORE BLOGS AND ARTICLES BY THIS AUTHOR.

  1. stoprocking says:

    Great post! We need to share our stories in order to help others who suffer with this crazy illness. I was bedridden for over a year and lost my marriage over it. If I could be rid of it so can you. Please see: http://www.stoprocking.com

  2. I understand. A Nurogist diagnose me with classical migraines when I was in high school. I couldn’t see, and they thought I had rental detachment. After seeing the eye doctor, he referred me to a neurologist. I still get these blinding (literally) headaches, but I’ve learned that my diet directly affects it. I’m sorry you have to deal with this pain. It truly is terrible. 😦

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