Basilar migraine (headache)

Head | Neurology | Basilar migraine (headache) (Disease)


A basilar migraine is due to a disturbance at the brainstem or base of the brain. Even before the migraine headache begins, the person may experience feelings such as dizziness, double vision, and lack of coordination and this is called an aura. An aura is a neurological phenomenon that occurs about 10 minutes to 45 minutes before the headache starts.

Basilar migraines can affect people of all ages. Generally, though, they start in childhood or the teen years. Women are slightly more likely to have basilar migraines than men.

With basilar migraines, you may have any of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, cold hands or feet. Although symptoms of basilar migraines may differ, the following can be typical symptoms: dizziness, slurred speech, temporary blindness, loss of balance, confusion, hearing impairments, body tingling, loss of consciousness, difficulty talking. Symptoms of basilar migraines can often be confused with symptoms of other more serious conditions: seizure disorders, stroke, vertebrobasilar disease, tumor, meningitis, brainstem arteriovenous malformation, brain lesions.

Causes and Risk factors

Basilar migraine triggers may include the following: consumption of alcohol, stress, sleep deprivation, certain medications, hunger, female hormonal changes, bright lights, caffeine, consumption of nitrates found in food, physical overexertion and environmental factors such as the weather or altitude.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computer Tomography (CT) scans, and spinal taps are often needed to eliminate the possibility of other disorders.

Treatments for basilar migraines are generally focused on relieving symptoms of pain and nausea. These include pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, as well as antinausea medicines such as chlorpromazine, metoclopramide, and prochlorperazine. Drugs typically used for traditional migraine headaches such as triptans and beta-blockers should not be used for the treatment of basilar artery migraines. ...