10 Vestibular Migraine Questions Answered
- By Dizzy & Vertigo Institute
- June 30, 2020
If you’ve been getting migraines for years and are now starting to get frequent dizzy spells too, then you may have vestibular migraine. And if you’ve never heard of vestibular migraine, then you’re not alone. Although vestibular migraine (VM) is the second most common balance disorder, many people are unfamiliar with the term. Your doctor might also call it Migraine-Associated Vertigo, Migrainous Vertigo, or Migraine-Related Vestibulopathy. Nonetheless, you have questions and we have answers:
Why Is It Called Vestibular Migraine?Just based on the name, you’d guess that Vestibular Migraine was a combination of dizziness and headaches. But this is misleading. It’s actually just a variety of migraine that affects the vestibular system and causes imbalance symptoms. It’s counter-intuitive, but headaches and migraines are not always a symptom of vestibular migraine.
How Common is VM?Vestibular migraines are still relatively unknown to the general population even though an estimated 1% of people will get VM in their lifetime.
What Does A Vestibular Migraine Feel Like?Many describe a vestibular migraine episode as having their senses overwhelmed and then their balance swept out from under them. Some of the common symptoms of VM are:
- Issues with balance: feeling like your balance is off or wobbly
- Dizziness when the head is moved: a sense of spinning or dizziness during head motion. Can occur with or without nausea.
- Internal Vertigo: the false sensation that your body is rotating, twirling, swaying, or wobbling
- External Vertigo: the false sensation that the world around you is spinning or flowing
- Hypersensitive to physical movement: especially intolerant to movement of the head and neck. Changing head position brings on feelings of dizziness.
- Hypersensitive to visual movement: highly sensitive to viewing something move, possibly coming down with a sense of seasickness after witnessing movement
- Motion sickness: higher likelihood of experiencing motion sickness
- Nausea and/or vomiting: migraine-induced nausea and vomiting are associated with migraine-related vertigo
- Ear pressure: a fullness feeling in ears
How Long Do VM Symptoms Last?There’s a lot of variation in the duration of a VM episode:
- Episodes lasting minutes: 30% of patients
- Episodes lasting hours: 30% of patients
- Attacks lasting several days: 30% of patients
- Approximately 10% have attacks lasting seconds only. These tend to occur repeatedly during head motion, visual stimulation, or after changes of head position.