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Can Migraines Cause Vertigo?

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Why Migraine Associated Vertigo Goes Undiagnosed

Dizziness and migraines are two of the most common medical complaints. They even often occur in the same case. Some 75 percent of migraine sufferers report feeling dizziness and a third experience vertigo during an episode. While migraines are a common cause of dizziness, they are not often diagnosed as such.

Vertigo is often hard to identify because the symptoms and experience can be difficult for people to describe. The sensation of perceived motion and spinning can vary by individual and often changes based on positioning and activity.

Migraine Associated Vertigo

Migraine associated vertigo, MAV, is the second most prevalent form of vertigo and dizziness after inner ear vertigo (BBPV). MAV frequently replaces headaches in female migraine sufferers around or after menopause.

If you have a family or personal history of migraines or motion sickness, a dislike for bright lights and loud sounds, or a tendency for nausea, you may be at higher risk for MAV.

Migraine associated vertigo is thought to be caused by these changes in your body:

  • Vascular, such as blood vessel spasms in the ear or brainstem
  • Neurotransmitter, such as irregularities in serotonin
  • Cerebellar, such as altered metabolism
  • Sensory, such as amplified motion sickness

MAV can also be triggered by the following:

  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Aged cheeses
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Skipping meals
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep change
  • Stress
  • Hormone changes
  • Bright lights
  • New or unusual smells
  • Seasonal or weather change
  • Altitude change

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