Atypical Migraine

What is an atypical migraine? An atypical migraine is a migraine that is not only difficult to diagnose, but hard to define. A classic migraine is a severe, recurring headache with pain primarily focused on one side of the head and can include side effects such as nausea, sensitivity to light, numbness, and visual disturbances. These are essentially considered atypical by the fact that they do not fall into any specific categories and can have little or no symptoms normally related to a common migraine, although they share the same name.

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What are the symptoms? Diagnosing these migraine symptoms can be tricky considering that there are many different symptoms that do not look like a migraine and a variety of symptoms just in general. Atypical migraines may have whole head pain, as opposed to just one side, and may include pain in other parts of the body besides the head, such as the abdomen or face. Numbness or tingling may be a factor. Some of these sorts of migraines may not even include a headache, making them even more difficult to diagnose. However, the common visual disturbances or aura that most classic migraine sufferers are accustomed to are not present. Some migraine suffers will have visual disturbances such as lightning bolts or zigzag lines while not accompanied by a headache, but those are generally referred to as ocular migraines, as opposed to atypical migraine syndrome.

What causes them? No specific cause has been determined for these types of migraines although research has shown that spasms in the blood vessels of the brain can lead to an attack. Things such as bright or florescent lights, lack of sleep, and changes in weather are believed to trigger an atypical migraine. Atypical migraines are also genetic, which means that if a family member has suffered with them, chances are that another relative will too. What can help? Classic migraine symptoms can be treated by a variety of over the counter medications and pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin. While these could help, because atypical migraine sufferers tend to not have classic symptoms, even treating them becomes difficult. A patient should list as specifically as possible their symptoms so that a doctor can prescribe something to provide relief for each ailment. Physicians may order a variety of different tests to rule out other diagnoses before deciding on an atypical migraine syndrome as the symptoms present could represent other suspected medical conditions. These migraines are tricky to determine, so mis-diagnosis can be common. Most importantly, patients should communicate with their doctors and become involved in their line of treatment. Because the symptoms are so varied, only these migraine sufferers can accurately account for what treatments offer relief. As with all migraine sufferers, many find relief lying down in a dark, quiet room until their symptoms resolve.

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