Vestibular migraines are a root cause of recurrent episodes of dizziness and vertigo spells for some people.
A vestibular migraine can last for five minutes up to 72 hours.
Vestibular migraines usually last for hours.
In some cases, it can last for more than three days if there is a daily root causes triggering a daily vestibular migraine.
It may take some patients up to four weeks to recover from a moderate to severe vestibular migraine episode.
Most patients get vestibular migraines at a certain frequency per week, per month, or per year.
Some patients even get a recurrent vestibular migraine every day for weeks or months. In those cases, the deeper root cause of the intractable migraine needs to be found and addressed.
The deeper root cause of recurrent daily migraines is often related to stress, the gut, or the neck.
One of the goals of treatment for patients with vestibular migraines is to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine episodes.
Symptoms of Vestibular Migraines
Migraines typically are associated with pain or headache on one side of the face or head. A vestibular migraine may occur with or without a headache.
Although migraine episodes may include head pain, they are not necessarily the same as headaches. The vestibular migraines that occur without a headache are often overlooked as a root cause of dizziness and vertigo, since the patient is not complaining of any head pain or headache.
Symptoms of vestibular migraines can include dizziness, motion-activated vertigo, nausea with or without vomiting, and imbalance. These symptoms may occur without any pain, which often confuses people who think all migraines include a headache.
Migraines are typically not relieved by anti-inflammatory pain medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
People with migraines may also experience a heightened sense of smell during an episode.
For example, when I have a vestibular migraine, I can smell the contents of the kitchen trash can from our living room. I usually have to ask my husband to take out all the trash in our house so my brain can rest.
This symptom can make body odor, perfume or cologne, cigarette smoke, and cleaning supplies more offensive during an episode.
A vestibular migraine can cause sensitivity to light during an episode.
Strobe lights, flickering lights, and LED lights can worsen symptoms of a migraine.
This symptom can make reading difficult on a screen, such as a phone, computer, or tablet, during an episode.
During a migraine, symptoms usually worsen when exposed to loud sounds like jackhammering or music.
Sensitivity to loud sounds can be a lifelong characteristic for some people (and you know who you are), but this symptom may only occur during the migraine episode for other people.
Getting overheated can trigger an onset of a migraine or cause migraine-related dizziness to feel worse.
Other triggers can include certain foods, so digestion may be linked to this cause of dizziness.
Neck tension and neck pain can be a migraine trigger for some people.
Stress and mental tension is a common migraine trigger.
Lack of sleep, alcohol, and junk food can trigger migraine episodes.
Certain weather patterns can trigger migraine episodes, such as windy, rainy, cloudy, and overcast days.
Traveling is also a common trigger for migraines.
What To Do
Many people with a migraine need to hunker down in a cool, quiet, dark room and try to go to sleep to relieve an episode.
Migraine management needs to focus on avoiding migraine triggers on a daily basis, to prevent an episode.
Talk to Your Doctor
There is no definitive diagnostic test to identify vestibular migraines as a root cause of dizziness or vertigo. So a careful review of patient history and observation of symptom patterns is the best approach.
You should talk to your doctor or find a migraine specialist. They can diagnose you with vestibular migraines if appropriate, and prescribe migraine medication which may help.
To learn seven strategies that might help prevent migraines, click here.
For an article about medications for migraine, click here.
To learn more about migraine dizziness and potential triggers, click here.
For an article about the potential link between caffeine and migraines, click here.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.
I have been struggling with tingling/numbness (left hand & leg), head pressure and 24/7 dizziness since last June. After more than a year and tons of tests ( all came back normal), therapies and supplements, I am feeling the same. Have no idea what is the cause & which treatment is the best for me.
I was 28 when I was diagnosed with “Complicated” migraines, but it appears it is actually a vestibular migraine..( I am 66 now).
I get these migraines every couple of years (so I am lucky), they always follow the same pattern. I also do not get pain, just vertigo, noise, smell, speech and visual disturbances. Going to bed and sleeping for several hours usually does the trick.
However, two weeks ago, I got out of bed and fell to one side with vertigo, my first thought was the onset of my migraine, so i went back to bed, no other symptoms so knew it was different.
Now two weeks later, I still have dizziness slowly resolving, but what is new is a feeling of fluid in my ear..checked out by dr. no infection and nothing to be seen.
I cannot lay on my right side and getting up and down from bed I have to be really careful.
Just started on SERC. I have not seen a PT yet, but wondered if you have any ideas why I am feeling this in my right ear and whether it could be Meniere’s or something else.
I tried the Epley Maneuver several times but did not help and appeared to make me feel worse.
I love your attitude saying you are lucky that you only get a vestibular migraine every so often. Very well done! Quite lovely.
Well people with migraines and people over 65 have higher rates of BPPV.
This blog talks about dizziness lying on your side.
This blog shares my opinion on whether people should attempt to treat themselves.
Hint: No, I recommend consulting a professional because you can make the problem worse, as you discovered.
This blog talks about why getting treatment is important, if it’s BPPV.
I have a lot of content on this website about BPPV, which you can find if you search the term “BPPV.”
This article talks about diagnostic criteria for Meniere’s.
This blog explains five reasons why the Epley doesn’t work.
This blog talks about what to do when vertigo exercises don’t help.
This blog can help you find a vestibular physical therapist or other vestibular specialist in your area.
That will be important to have a professional evaluation and treatment plan.
This blog has vertigo home remedies.
I hope all those free resources are helpful!