Fainting and Migraine Revisited

Some of you may remember the infographic from 2013 about fainting and migraine, a summary of tips for migraine patients.

We could say that there are at least three ways in which fainting is related to migraine:

  1. Migraine patients seem to be more likely to faint in general (that is, not necessarily during a migraine attack).
  2. A patient may actually faint during a migraine attack. Though not common, it does happen.
  3. Patients with certain types of headache disorders (including migraine) are more likely to have fainting spells.

Fainting and MigraineSome patients have headache and fainting spells, and it’s not possible to diagnose them with a specific type of migraine or headache. But patients with migraine with brainstem aura (formerly known as basilar migraine or basilar-type migraine) may experience vertigo or even fainting. In fact, this type of migraine was also known as “syncopal migraine”, the word syncopal refers to fainting spells.

Migraine attacks associated with fainting may in some cases be genetic.

If you or someone you care for experienced fainting spells along with migraine, it is important to do a little research:

  • First, are there any other family members who experience either fainting or migraine attacks, or both? Knowing this will give your doctor important clues as to your condition.
  • If you experience fainting and migraine, it is wise to see a specialist (a neurologist). The two may be related, but it is also easy to misdiagnose your condition. Also, if possible, you do want to get a specific diagnosis, not just “migraine”. What kind of migraine?
  • Sometimes, fainting spells and seizures (due to epilepsy) can be confused. Fainting does not always mean you remain motionless, and seizures are often not the violent ones we all hear about most often. Migraine and epilepsy are related disorders. Again, seeing a specialist will help rule out som serious conditions.

If you find you are feeling faint, or fainting, during migraine attacks, make note of this and other symptoms, and mention them to your doctor. Whether your fainting turns out to be migraine-related or not, there are steps you can take to improve your quality of life. But you do need to do your homework first, to get the best treatment possible.

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