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10 Terms Every Migraine Sufferer Should Know

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    This type of migraine is often mistaken for epilepsy. People may feel confused during these attacks.

    The aura in this migraine typically involves problems with:

    • vision
    • language

    The episodes of muscle weakness and movement abnormalities can last for days. In some cases, people can become comatose during the migraine.

    Familial hemiplegic migraine can run in families. In patients with familial hemiplegic migraine, at least one first- or second-degree relative may have this type of migraine. Experts have linked the disorder to a number of genetic mutations.

    Photopsia/fortification spectra. The vision changes that can occur during an aura may involve a complex array of lights and images that appear before your eyes. Photopsia is the medical term for flashes of light.

    Fortification spectra are more complicated images that can float in your vision during a migraine. These get their name from their resemblance to an aerial view of an intricately built fort.

    Photosensitivity. During a migraine, being around sunlight or artificial light may make you feel even more uncomfortable. This is called photosensitivity. Another term that is sometimes used to describe this problem is photophobia.

    Scotoma. This is another type of vision change that may occur as part of a migraine aura. A scotoma may look like a band of shimmering light that arcs across half of your field of vision. The shimmering light may:

    • flicker
    • take on a zig-zag pattern
    • expand in size

    Tyramine. This is an ingredient in certain foods that can trigger migraines in some people. Tyramine is related to the amino acid tyrosine. It's found especially in fermented and aged foods such as:

    • aged cheeses
    • beer
    • cured meats
    • smoked fish

    Keeping a food diary for several months may help you determine if tyramine may be triggering your migraines.

    Vertigo. This is the sense that you're spinning (or the world around you is spinning) when you're really not. People often use this word to mean dizziness, but these words really describe different things. Dizziness may involve a sense of light-headedness or trouble keeping your balance.

    Vertigo is another common symptom of basilar migraine. In the study tracking the different symptoms in people with basilar migraine, 61% reported vertigo.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 21, 2014
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