Migralepsy Symptoms

With migraine and epilepsy being so common, could the two be combined in some cases?  What are true migralepsy symptoms?

Migraine and epilepsy are not only both common (meaning both may just happen to occur in the same person, without necessarily sharing a common cause), they share a lot of symptoms in common, and they also tend to be comorbid (having one makes it more likely that you’ll have the other).

But unravelling which is which, and when both may occur together, has been very controversial.

Since the brain is still such a mystery, both epilepsy and migraine remain challenging to treat and understand.  We do know that certain types of epilepsy are more likely to appear along with migraine (such as benign rolandic epilepsy).

Certain conditions also may lead to both migraine-like headaches and seizures, such as leptomeningeal angiomatosis (Sturge Weber Syndrome), mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS Syndrome) or cerebral venous thrombosis.

The matter is further complicated because of other symptoms that migraine and epilepsy often share.  For example, confusion, a changed perception of reality (how things smell for example), visual hallucinations (particularly shared by migraine and occipital lobe epilepsy) and changes in motor skills (such as motor weakness or stiffness).  In fact, some forms of migraine are often misdiagnosed as epilepsy, such as hemiplegic migraine.

Headache Attributed to Epileptic Seizure

Perhaps the most common confusion comes from the fact that migraine-like headaches tend to show up around seizures frequently.  But what does that mean?  Is it just a headache from the seizure, or is it some combination of the two conditions?

You’ll see below two examples of what we call “headache attributed to epileptic seizure”, and only one description of “migralepsy”.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

This chart shows how symptoms are usually diagnosed when there is a seizure (or something that looks like a form of epileptic seizure).  This is very simplified – of course you need to talk with a doctor who knows your medical history to get a proper diagnosis.

Symptoms Diagnosis
Could be:
Headache and seizure develop together, and resolve together. hemicrania epileptica
Headache begins within three hours of the seizure and resolves within 72 hours.  It may be a migraine (or migraine-like) headache, particularly in patients who also have migraine disease.  Or it could mirror tension-type headache.  This is very common. post-ictal headache
Seizure occurs during or after migraine attack.  This refers specifically to migraine with aura.  What seems to happen is that the migraine attack begins with a visual aura.  Then the seizure follows, either along with the headache or even afterwards. migralepsy or migraine-triggered seizure
(two names for the same thing)

As you can tell even from the above chart, migralepsy symptoms are not so easy to differentiate from other conditions.  Headache with a seizure?  Could be migralepsy or hemicrania epileptica.

With all the shades of difference and related conditions, we certainly need more information before we can really understand the interrelation of the symptoms of migraine and epilepsy.

Just going by what we’ve talked about in this short article, migralepsy symptoms are extremely rare.  In most cases, the jumbling together of migraine and epilepsy comes from post-ictal headache, or simply similarity of the symptoms (such as in forms of occipital epilepsy).

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4 comments… add one
  • Theresa shively May 25, 2015

    I was so glad to see an article about migralepsy because I suffer from it and the drs. Where I live don’t seem to understand what it is and what I go through I’m so tired of drs.telling me I need to lose weight when it is the medicine they give me causes me to gain weight.I’m at the point now where they want to do botox,so I will try it and if that doesn’t work I don’t know what else is going to happen to me . I live in north Carolina and I was wondering if anybody knows any headache specialist . I am desperate and I’m at my wits end please help.

  • Rubai Chowdhury Jul 15, 2016


  • Nicole smillie Jul 21, 2016

    I have been having different kinds of seizures for so long now and Dr’s have been saying that they are pseudo seizures. But i get migraines everytym it happens then I saw this site wondering if its possible that the Drs r wrong because my family and I have noticed a lot of fings happening with the seizures that don’t add up to the drs diagnosis.. Other drs have mentioned ma migraines could be the trigger but none of them has looked into further investigation about it. Now I am going to mention this sitemto my gp in hopes that I am ryt that I get the proper medical care.

  • Kristen Aug 21, 2017

    Hi! I lived around Rocky Flats this was a ” Nuclear Toxic Plant ” that made weapons since 1952 until 2005 in Colorado.

    I have Epilepsy (3) kinds and migrains . Many of the children that grew up in that area have Epilepsy as well and have siblings who have it. The people have the same stories as I.

    I find it very strange, we were all exposed to the same chemicals.
    Cesium,Plutonium, Uranium,Radon,Cyclotran.

    We all discovered our Epilepsy when very young. Our teachers said,” We would be looking into space.”

    An Epidemiologic study was not recommended .

    30 plus familes in this one area have Epilepsy. I am sure migraines follow.

    I have done research and a study is trying to say it ‘ Cancer ‘ is related to Epilepsy. Many people died of brain tumors
    ( cancer ) at early ages in this area. Many have cancer now.

    To this day this area is still shut down.

    However, being exposed as a child do you think this could cause Epilepsy?

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