Complications of Migraine

While most migraines will resolve without complications, there are complications that can result from them. Here are a few of them:


Status Migrainous


When you get a migraine and it just doesn’t quit for days, it’s a migraine complication called status migrainous. Specifically, it’s characterized by a moderate to severe migraine headache where the pain has lasted longer than three days without significant relief.


It’s a medical emergency and requires either an office visit or a trip to the emergency room because of the effects of having the blood vessels in the brain dilated for a prolonged period — it puts the sufferer at risk for stroke.


Persistent Aura without Infarction


Persistent aura without infarction is a rare migraine-related phenomenon. Persisting auras affect both eyes and may go on for months or even years. They can occur at any age, from childhood to old age and all patients with persistent auras are migraine sufferers.


Persistent auras are usually only visual manifestations — there have been no documented cases containing non-visual elements. It may be that they exist, but have yet to be documented.


Migrainous Infarction


A migrainous infarction is a stroke that occurs as a result of a migraine attack; it is a specific diagnosis that requires that the stroke occurs during the migraine attack as part of the attack. It is a rare occurrence, given that most strokes, even if they happen during a migraine, are not connected to the migraine itself. The fact that they occur at the same time as the migraine is a coincidence. It is also important to understand that stroke symptoms often mirror symptoms of migraine with aura.


While there is some evidence that migraine sufferers are more predisposed to have a stroke than the rest of the population, this has been demonstrated only in women under age 45. Some studies have found a correlation between oral contraceptive use in migraine sufferers and stroke.


Migraine Aura Triggered Seizure


Sometimes, a migraine aura may trigger a seizure. When this happens, it’s called migralepsy. According to doctors, migraine falls within paroxysmal brain disorders, the same group as seizures. In fact, people with seizures sometimes get migraine headaches in the period just after the seizure (post ictal period).





Image credit: Tony Talkltani via Flickr

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