Preeclampsia is, of course, a high blood pressure condition that occurs during pregnancy. It can even be a slight increase in blood pressure. Preeclampsia is diagnosed when there is excess protein in your urine. There are other markers in a urine test that can warn you of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia can put both you and your baby at serious risk. At times there are few or no symptoms, which is another reason why it’s important to have regular checkups during pregnancy.
But what about preeclampsia and migraines? Can this condition actually cause migraine attacks?
There are some clear links between pre-eclampsia and migraine. For example, women taking triptan medications during pregnancy are more likely to develop preeclampsia. At least one study has suggested that women with migraine are more likely to develop preeclampsia in pregnancy.
Changes in the body can certainly trigger migraine attacks in a migraineur. However, the headaches that are caused by preeclampsia are not called migraine headaches, although some of the symptoms may be similar.
There is a specific term for headache and related symptoms in preeclampsia – it has the rather unimaginative name of headache attributed to pre-eclampsia.
And yes, the symptoms can be similar to a migraine attack.
This headache has at least one of these characteristics: It’s on both sides of the head, pulsating, and/or aggravated by physical activity.
A preeclampsia headache will actually develop when your blood pressure is high. Once hypertension has been treated, the headache will be gone within a week.
Some of the other typical preeclampsia symptoms are also found in many migraine attacks. For example:
- problems with vision, including loss of vision, blurred vision, and auras
- photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- abdominal pain
These symptoms can make a preeclampsia look very much like a migraine attack.
Since women with preeclampsia can actually be symptom-free, it can be challenging to diagnose preeclampsia early, especially if you’re not seeing your doctor at regular intervals during pregnancy. However, as always, if you notice any changes in your headache/migraine symptoms, you do need to see a doctor right away. If you’re pregnant, have tests done for preeclampsia. There are actually other factors that can cause a headache with Headache attributed to pre-eclampsia symptoms.
Once these other possibilities have been ruled out, you may have a diagnosis of migraine, or a type of headache. For more on dealing with headache during pregnancy, check here.
If you have migraine and pre-eclampsia, make sure your doctor knows about both conditions. There are some drugs that are used to treat both conditions.