12 Complications of Migraine Headaches

A migraine is more than just a whopper of a headache. It’s a sudden bout of throbbing pain that can last for several hours or several days. You usually have it on one side of your head. Some people get migraines once in a while, but others deal with repeated episodes.

Migraines come in two main types — with or without aura — and tend to bring on other symptoms. These complications can be serious enough to send you to the hospital or leave you simply uncomfortable or queasy.

Status Migrainosus

It’s Latin for a migraine that just won’t go away. Most migraines usually linger between 4 and 72 hours. Status migrainosus, on the other hand, is a relentless attack that lasts for more than 3 days. It can leave you feeling drained or even disabled. The pain and nausea can keep you from getting enough sleep or make you dehydrated from throwing up. You may need care at the hospital. This type of migraine often comes on after you take too much headache medication.

Migrainous Infarction

Also called a migrainous stroke, this is a rare complication that happens mostly in younger women. Blood vessels to the brain can get narrowed and cut off the oxygen supply. A migrainous stroke can hit suddenly and is an emergency. It always happens with an aura, a set of unusual sensations like flashes of light, blind spots, and tingling hands or face.

Women under 45 who smoke and take birth control pills are most likely to have a stroke with a migraine.

Persistent Aura Without Infarction

One in four people with migraines can have aura. But sometimes it lingers for more than a week after an attack. Rarely, you can have aura and symptoms like trouble breathing and numbness for months or even years.

The signs can seem close to those of a stroke, or bleeding in the brain, but without any actual bleeding. Infarction is another word for stroke.

Migraine-Triggered Seizure

This rare case can look like an epileptic seizure. It happens during or soon after a migraine with aura. Epilepsy and migraine sometimes go together. But researchers don’t fully understand why.

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