Of Headaches and Dizziness Spells: A Primer on Migraine-associated Vertigo (MAV)

Posted by on Jan. 14, 2013

Over the years, studies have shown that there is a significant correlation between migraine and vertigo. Vertigo is a condition characterized by a feeling of severe dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea. It is also associated with motion sickness, or a sensation that one’s surroundings is spinning. Patients suffering from migraine commonly experience various forms of vertigo. Women aged 18 and above are found to be the most affected.

Migraine-associated vertigo (MAV), or migrainous vertigo, is a disorder affecting the vestibule of the ear and is directly caused by migraine. It is classified into four syndromes:

  • Basilar migraine – occurs when a patient experiences recurrent headaches accompanied by sensations of visual distortion and flashing lights.
  • Meniere’s disease –characterized by a feeling of vertigo that lasts from 20 minutes up to 24 hours, accompanied by hearing loss and ringing in the ears.
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – usually associated with sudden shifting or movement of the head. Attacks last from several seconds to a minute.
  • Benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood – commonly affects children before the age of 8. Symptoms include a feeling of anxiety, nausea, and imbalance.

Treatment of migraine-associated vertigo includes prescription of verapamil and propranolol. As with any other illnesses, prevention is still essential in dealing with disorders and diseases. Patients suffering from MAV should avoid caffeine, hard cheese, chocolate, red wine, and bananas as these can trigger an attack.

[Photo Credit: alex_ford on Flickr]

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