Migrainous Vertigo

Also called “vestibular migraine,” this is a migraine headache with vertigo.  Attacks last hours to a few days, and recur.  In research, 5 such attacks are needed to make the diagnosis; out in the real world, we’d settle for at least 3.

We’d only diagnose this if a patient with vertigo also had at least two other symptoms of Migraine Headache.  These include:

  • pulsating headache on one side of the head
  • sensitivity to both light (photophobia) & noises (phonophobia)
  • an aura (brief sensations immediately before the headache begins, like seeing bright shapes, hearing funny sounds, numbness or tingling, involuntary movements, or feeling partly paralyzed)

The best diagnostic tool is preventive migraine treatment — one or more of various medications that stop attacks from happening (see Migraine).  For example, if a person usually had an attack every two months, and then had none during a year of treatment, we might be convinced.

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