Basilar migraines are headaches that start in the lower part of the brain, called the brainstem. They cause symptoms such as dizziness, double vision, and lack of coordination. These changes, called an aura, can happen about 10 minutes to 45 minutes before your head hurts. The headache pain of a basilar migraine often starts on one side of the head and then gradually spreads and gets stronger.
This type of migraine can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. And it takes time to recover from one. You may feel drained for up to 24 hours after it’s over.
A vestibular migraine is a nervous system problem that causes repeated dizziness (or vertigo) in people who have a history of migraine symptoms. Unlike traditional migraines, you may not always have a headache.
There are many names for this type of problem. Your doctor might also call it:
Aura symptoms may last between 5 minutes and 1 hour. When the headache starts, you might feel an intense throbbing or pulsating pain on one or both sides of your head or sometimes at the back of your head.
How Are Basilar Migraines Diagnosed?
After you’ve had at least two attacks of at least two auras, your doctor can diagnose you with a basilar migraine.
The condition has many of the same symptoms as another type, called hemiplegic migraine. But the hemiplegic kind usually causes weakness of one side of the body or trouble speaking.
Symptoms of basilar migraines can also seem like the signs of other more serious conditions, like seizure disorders, stroke, meningitis, or brain tumors. To rule those out, you’ll need to see a brain doctor, called a neurologist. He’ll give you a thorough exam and ask you questions about your symptoms. He’ll also use tests like MRI, CT scans, and nerve tests to see what’s causing your symptoms.