Could you have a migraine without even knowing?
Migraine headaches are very painful and can knock people out for hours and even days. But did you know you can have a migraine without having a headache?
Silent migraines are a real thing. And you might suffer from them without even knowing.
What is a silent migraine?
A normal migraine usually starts out with any number of visual or sensory symptoms, called aura. These include blurred or lost vision, sensitivity to light, dizziness, weakness and nausea. Typically, these symptoms subside and are followed by a headache trademarked by sharp pain around the temples.
A silent migraine brings these symptoms – and more – but no headache. They typically last from a few minutes up to an hour. The effects can leave sufferers feeling tired and out of it all day. While some people have chronic migraines that last for days, weeks or months, that’s not usually the case for silent migraines.
How is it caused?
The reasons why they strike aren’t totally known. Sensory overload from too much light or noise, as well as changes in the brain’s blood vessels and chemical makeup, could be culprits.
However, we do know silent migraines are triggered by what we put in our bodies and factors from the world around us. Women, people under 40 and those who have a family history of migraines are all susceptible.
“Silent migraines can be brought on by hunger, stress, caffeine, alcohol or a lack of sleep. Physical ailments like neck pain and eye strain, as well as changes in hormones, can also bring on these painful bouts,” says Dr. Aaron Bubolz, a neurologist with Aurora Health Care.
Treatment options – and what to watch for
Diagnosing silent migraines is tricky because their symptoms are like those for more serious conditions like stroke and meningitis. And because there’s no headache, doctors often need to run blood tests, CT scans or an MRI.
If you suffer from these symptoms regularly, Dr. Bubolz says the first step is to take note of what sets off these attacks. From there, see your doctor, and if you’re found to have silent migraines, then you can go on a medication regimen and make changes to your lifestyle to avoid these triggers from going off.
“Where, when and what you were doing when the pain sets in might be the difference in not only identifying the root cause, but also finding the path to a pain-free future,” says Dr. Bubolz.
About the Author
Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.