A bad vertigo episode or a migraine attack that happens on its own is bad enough, but for many people who suffer from a condition called vestibular migraine, these two things frequently happen in conjunction with one another.  Vertigo is the illusion of movement of either the environment or of self with respect to their surroundings. If you have a history of both vertigo and migraine episodes, then asking yourself the following questions might help you to shed some light on the possibility that they are connected.

Are your vestibular (vertigo) symptoms present regardless of when you’re experiencing migraine symptoms?

People who experience vestibular migraines may experience vertigo along with other vestibular symptoms whether migraine symptoms are present or absent.  Vestibular symptoms, which include vertigo, spinning, dizziness, loss of balance, unsteadiness, motion sensitivity, etc., can typically last anywhere from 5 minutes up to 3 days, but can sometimes persist for weeks or even months.  These sensations can be described in a variety of ways – some might feel that their legs are unsteady as they walk, others may feel as if they’ve got “sea legs” where they feel as if the ground beneath you is moving.

If you experience both vertigo and migraines, even if they don’t seem to appear at the same time in conjunction with one another, there’s a possibility that you might have vestibular migraines.

Do your vertigo episodes vary in how severe they are?

Other vestibular conditions such as BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) or Meniere’s disease come along with severe vertigo episodes that are fairly consistent in their severity.  In contrast, the vertigo episodes associated with vestibular migraine can vary in severity. If your vestibular symptoms vacillate between mild, moderate and severe, then vestibular migraine might be to blame.

When you experience a vertigo attack, are there other migraine symptoms present too?

While experiencing a vertigo episode, symptoms of a migraine might also be present”

  • Heightened sensitivity to sound, smells, light and/or touch
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ringing or roaring sound in the ears
  • Headache – the characteristics of a headache that is usually associated with migraine are a moderate to severe pain usually on one side of the head, or a throbbing or pulsing sensation behind one eye or in the sinuses.
  • Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision, blind spots, or wavy lines referred to as an aura

Does your vertigo worsen when you’re exposed to commonly known migraine triggers?

A clue that you might be having vestibular migraines is that your vertigo episodes are exacerbated by things that are thought to trigger migraines.  These triggers fall into several categories:

  • Environmental – strong smells (chemicals, perfumes, soaps, etc.), changing weather conditions such as barometric pressure, extreme hot or cold temperatures, lightning storms, and humidity levels, and light levels such as going from indoors outside to bright sun.
  • Hormonal – for women, do vertigo symptoms coincide with a certain time during your menstrual cycle?  Other hormonal changes that can be associated with vestibular migraine include pregnancy and menopause.
  • Dietary – any list of foods that have been associated with migraine, including vestibular migraine, usually contains the following:
    • MSG
    • Aspartame
    • Caffeine
    • Alcohol
    • Chocolate
    • Red wine
    • Tyramine (found in smoked, aged, pickled and preserved foods like meats and cheeses)
    • Food dyes
  • Behavioral – stressful situations (particularly the “let-down” that follows a stressful event), changes in sleep schedule (going to bed too late, jet-lag, etc.), crying or becoming very upset, or changes in exercise routine (either overdoing it, or not getting enough physical activity)

Vertigo symptoms can arise nearly immediately upon exposure to a trigger or the response can be delayed for up to 72 hours.  If you suspect that your vertigo and migraines might be connected, then keeping a journal or log of your day-to-day events (what you’ve eaten, what the weather is like, how your stress level is, etc.) might help you to make the link.

What You Need to Know About Vertigo & Vestibular Migraines

If you’ve done any research on these conditions, whether they occur on their own or together, then you’ve likely encountered a lot of unknowns.  Although the relationship between and mechanisms by which vertigo, vestibular disorders, and migraines occur are not very well defined, they are related by much more than pure chance.  In a study of 200 patients, vertigo sufferers showed a 38% higher prevalence of also having migraines than those in the control group without vertigo. Episodes of vertigo occur in up to half of all migraine patients either before, during, or after the headache, making it a relatively common problem.

A normal sense of balance is maintained by a combination of controls, one of which is the vestibular system.  In each ear, there are components that detect gravity, linear movement, and rotation. The semicircular canals within the inner ear are filled with fluid that responds to your body’s position and sends signals to the brain.  If there is dysfunction within the vestibular system, the information sent to your brain can be inconsistent, and this can lead to vertigo. The brain also receives signals from your eyes, muscles, and joints to help it to know how your body is positioned and how to make necessary corrections in position to stay balanced.

Help and Healing with Advanced Orthogonal

Advanced Orthogonal care centers around the top two bones in the spine, how they’re positioned, and how the central nervous system is impacted when they are misaligned.  Interference in the way the brain and body can communicate because of a misalignment of the vertebrae in the upper cervical spine can influence vestibular function and ultimately lead to vertigo symptoms or vestibular migraines.  The C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) vertebrae protect the brainstem and also sit in very close proximity to the components of the inner ear. This makes it easy to understand how a misalignment in this part of the spine can be a contributing factor.

The Advanced Orthogonal approach is unique in and of itself.  Very precise measurements are taken for each patient in order to build an adjustment that will suit each individual.  Because of the customized nature of the adjustments, they are designed to hold in place, leading to longer-lasting results and longer-lasting relief from debilitating vertigo and migraine episodes.