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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Basilar Migraines

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How Are Basilar Migraines Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of basilar migraine is made after a person has had at least two attacks consisting of at least two auras. Symptoms of basilar migraines can often be confused with symptoms of other more serious conditions. A complete evaluation is important to rule out other illnesses or health conditions. These other more serious conditions include:

  • Seizure disorders
  • Stroke
  • Vertebrobasilar disease
  • Tumor
  • Meningitis
  • Brainstem arteriovenous malformation
  • Brain lesions

Basilar migraine can also be confused with hemiplegic migraine. Symptoms of the two are similar although one usually sees weakness of one side of the body or difficulty speaking with hemiplegic migraine.

MRIs, CT scans, and other neurodiagnostic tests are often needed to eliminate the possibility of other disorders.

Because of the seriousness of the other disorders, it is very important to have a specialized doctor perform a thorough exam. Ideally, you should seek the help of a neurologist.

How Are Basilar Migraines Treated?

Treatments for basilar migraines are generally focused on relieving symptoms of pain and nausea. These include pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, as well as antinausea medicines such as chlorpromazine, metoclopramide, and prochlorperazine. It is not unusual for doctors to prescribe the same medication used to treat regular migraine headaches, such as triptans.

 

Can Basilar Migraines Be Prevented?

If you suffer with basilar migraines, keep a journal of your attacks in order to identify any triggers of your migraines. Avoiding these triggers can be helpful in reducing the frequency of the migraines. In addition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help. That means you need to:

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Limit your stress
  • Exercise daily

Diet can also affect migraines. Doing the following may help control your migraines:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol
  • Not skipping meals
  • Limiting caffeine intake
  • Avoiding any foods that have been triggers

Some foods thought to be common triggers of migraines include:

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Rye
  • Tomatoes
  • Oranges

You might try eliminating these foods from your diet to see if you have fewer migraines.

It is also not unusual to use the same preventive medications that are used in regular migraine. Your doctor may try anticonvulsant medicines such as Topamax (topiramate) or Depakote (valproic acid) to help prevent migraines. Calcium channel blockers work by inhibiting the arteries from widening and by blocking serotonin release. Certain antidepressants block serotonin reabsorption. This may also inhibit migraines.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on September 23, 2014
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