Dealing with a migraine is bad enough – the pounding head, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, and odors, and extreme fatigue. Now, imagine having severe dizziness that accompanies it. Sadly, 40% of people who have migraines have also experienced some sort of dizziness or loss of balance either before, after, during, or totally unrelated to a migraine. This is referred to as migraine-associated vertigo or MAV. MAV is most common among women in the age range of 20 to 40 years and is known for the following symptoms:
- Inability to focus
- Anxiety and panic
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and odors
- Sensitivity to movement
- Spontaneous vertigo attacks
- Nausea and vomiting
- Balance loss and ataxia
- Neck pain with muscle spasms
- Feeling disoriented
Interesting parallels exist between a migraine and non-migraine vestibular dysfunction. For example, many of the same food and environmental triggers that bring about migraines can also bring about problems for non-migraine vestibular patients. Weather changes, hormones, and certain food can make both conditions worse. Let’s look at some of these triggers.
- Food prepared with meat tenderizer, soy sauce, yeast extract, and vinegar (except for white vinegar)
- Food that has been fermented, marinated, or pickled
- Sour cream, buttermilk, and yogurt
- Aspartame or other artificial sweeteners
- Pea pods and pods of broad beans (lima and navy)
- Aged or ripened cheeses like cheddar, stilton, brie, parmesan, feta, or bleu
- MSG – monosodium glutamate (often found in Asian food)
- Hot fresh bread, doughnuts, and coffee cake
- Chocolate, carob, and cocoa
- Processed, smoked, or cured meat like sausage, salami, bacon, pepperoni, chicken liver, hot dogs, ham, bologna, or pickled herring
- Certain fruit: figs, raisins, avocados, red plums, banana, citrus fruit, papaya, and passion fruit
- Peanut butter and other nuts
- Cola, tea, and coffee
- Alcohol: bourbon, red wine, sherry, port, Scotch, and gin
- Olives, onions, and pickles
- Not getting enough sleep
- Hormone changes
- Weather changes (barometric pressure)
It is a good idea, whether you have MAV or regular migraines, to keep a migraine journal. Keep track of what happened before the onset of a migraine, even a few days before. Write down what the weather was like, what foods you ate, what activities you took part in, and how you were feeling. This may help you to see a pattern develop and identify your personal triggers. Once you know what they are, you can work to avoid them and see if that eases up the frequency of your migraine attacks.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book Natural and Drug-Free Ways to End Your Migraines by clicking the image below.
Caring for Migraines
A number of different medications may be used to help alleviate the symptoms of a migraine or attempt to stop it before it happens. These include:
- Beta blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Anticonvulsant medications (Depakote and Topamax)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
- Isometheptene mucate
- Triptans (Imitrex and Relpax)
The way some of these medications work is to block serotonin (a neurotransmitter that causes blood vessels to contract) or prostaglandins (chemicals that are stimulated by estrogen that also causes blood vessels to contract or expand). Doctors determine whether to give their patients a daily preventative or a medication to stop the pain once it has started depending on the severity and frequency of their migraines.
Taking part in vestibular rehabilitation has been proven to be effective in reducing symptoms. If you are suffering from MAV, it is a good idea to be taking your prescribed medications before engaging in rehabilitation as this will help it to work much better. The intensity of the rehab regime is gradually increased depending on the patient’s tolerance, yet low enough so that it does not induce another migraine episode.
It is important to adhere closely to whatever lifestyle modifications are suggested by your doctor to see improvement in your migraine pain and MAV. Avoiding the above-mentioned triggers, using your medication as directed, and doing the exercises specified in rehab are all good places to start.
Finding Natural Migraine Relief
A majority of people have tried the above suggestions and are still struggling with migraine episodes. Many find that medication simply covers over their symptoms until the next migraine hits. Frustrated and exhausted, they seek out the next thing on the market to try to alleviate their pain. The good news is, there is a way to care for migraines that is inexpensive, safe, and really works. In fact, it not only relieves the pain of a migraine but also addresses the underlying cause of both migraines and vestibular disorders. How do we know it works?
A study was done of 100 patients complaining of headaches. Each of them was evaluated and given specific upper cervical chiropractic adjustments. Out of these, 85 reported seeing the total resolution of their headaches within 1 to 8 months of care. Of the remaining cases, 12 reported improvement and saw a great reduction in a number of headaches, although they still had some headache episodes. Another interesting connection between these patients was that all of them recalled having some form of trauma to their head or neck prior to developing headaches.
Here at Atlas Chiropractic in Taylor, Texas, we use a similar technique to help our migraine patients find relief for their pain. If the atlas or axis (the top bones of the spine) are misaligned, they may be putting the brainstem under stress and causing it to send improper signals to the brain. This can be the root cause of not only migraines but vertigo as well.
By using a gentle method that helps the bones to realign without the need to pop or crack the spine, the body is able to heal from the damage done. This often brings relief to migraine and MAV patients.
To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Seivert call 512-352-1300 or just click the button below.
if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.