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Could it be Vestibular Migraines?

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Do you ever feel dizzy or lightheaded, with a spinning sensation that seems to come out of nowhere?

Do you also experience headaches that are sometimes accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light or sound?

If so, you may be experiencing vestibular migraines.

Vestibular migraines are a type of migraine headache that involve dizziness or vertigo as a predominant symptom. In this article, we'll explore what vestibular migraines are, what causes them, who is more susceptible, and what treatment options are available.

Symptoms of vestibular migraines

The symptoms of vestibular migraines can vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Dizziness or vertigo: This can range from a feeling of lightheadedness to a spinning sensation.

  • Nausea or vomiting: These symptoms are common in many types of migraines.

  • Sensitivity to light or sound: Like other migraines, vestibular migraines can cause sensitivity to stimuli.

  • Visual disturbances: Some people with vestibular migraines experience visual symptoms like flashing lights or blind spots.

What causes vestibular migraines?

The exact cause of vestibular migraines is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to changes in the brain and nervous system. Triggers for vestibular migraines may include stress, hormonal changes, certain foods or drinks, and lack of sleep.

Who is more susceptible to vestibular migraines?

Anyone can develop vestibular migraines, but they may be more common in women and people with a family history of migraines. People who have other types of migraines, like those with aura, may also be more likely to develop vestibular migraines.

They are more common in females, and people with a family history of migraines.

Management of vestibular migraines

Treatment for vestibular migraines can be complex and may involve a combination of medications and lifestyle modifications.

In addition to the treatments mentioned earlier, other medication classes that may be used to manage vestibular migraines include:

  • Calcium channel blockers: These medications may be used to prevent migraines by relaxing blood vessels and reducing the frequency and severity of attacks.

  • Beta-blockers: These medications can be used to prevent migraines by reducing the frequency and intensity of attacks. They may also be effective in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression that can be associated with vestibular migraines.

  • Anticonvulsants: Certain anticonvulsant medications, such as topiramate and valproate, may be used to prevent migraines by regulating the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain.

  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressant medications, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline, may be used to prevent migraines by reducing the sensitivity of pain pathways in the brain.

It's important to note that the use of these medications should be carefully monitored by a healthcare provider, as they may cause side effects or interact with other medications.

In addition to medications, lifestyle modifications may also be helpful in managing vestibular migraines. These may include:

  • Avoiding triggers: Keeping a journal to track potential triggers, such as certain foods or environmental factors, can help people with vestibular migraines identify and avoid these triggers.

  • Stress reduction: Techniques such as relaxation exercises, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

  • Regular exercise: Exercise can help reduce stress and improve cardiovascular health, which may help prevent migraines.

If you think you may be experiencing vestibular migraines, it's important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and possible treatment options. With proper management, many people with vestibular migraines are able to lead full and active lives.

It's important to note that a neurologist should be consulted to help diagnose and treat vestibular migraines.

Conditions that mimic vestibular migraines

There are several conditions that can cause symptoms similar to vestibular migraines, including:

  • Inner ear disorders: Conditions like Meniere's disease and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) can cause dizziness and vertigo.

  • Anxiety or panic disorders: These conditions can cause symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, and a feeling of being disconnected from reality.

  • Vestibular neuritis: This is an infection or inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which can cause similar symptoms to vestibular migraines.

Red flags to watch out for In some cases

Dizziness or vertigo may be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as a stroke or brain tumor. Red flags that may indicate a more serious underlying condition include sudden onset of symptoms, severe or constant dizziness, and loss of consciousness. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

In conclusion, vestibular migraines can be a debilitating condition for those who experience them. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, many people can manage their symptoms and prevent future episodes. If you think you may be experiencing vestibular migraines, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and possible treatment options.


The Headache Clinic is a specialised headache clinic based in North Sydney that offers both in-clinic and telehealth appointment consultations with trained headache neurologists. Our team of experts can help diagnose and treat your condition, providing you with the best care possible.

We can provide squeeze-in appointments within one week.

Whether you are experiencing scalp allodynia or any other headache or migraine symptoms, The Headache Clinic can help you get the right assessment and advice. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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