Home > Special Circumstances > Epileptic Attacks and Migraine

Epileptic Attacks and Migraine

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 27 Jun 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Migraines Epilepsy Attacks Epileptic

Recent studies have indicated that those who suffer from epilepsy are also likely to suffer from migraine headaches. Therefore special treatment considerations need to be given to those who experience both disorders.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder triggered by an abnormal neural discharge. The causes are generally unknown although there is thought to be a genetic link; brain injury is also suggested as a cause for epilepsy. Epilepsy involves very sudden albeit brief seizure attacks where motor activity is affected and various other symptoms may occur. Seizures can be separated into a beginning, middle and end. Symptoms occurring throughout the phases can include:

  • Fear and panic
  • Nausea, headache and dizziness
  • Drooling, convulsions and memory loss
  • Twitching movements
  • Depression and exhaustion
  • Intense sweating and tremors
  • Difficulty breathing and pain
  • Visual, smell and other sensory disturbances

It is also important to note that headaches can happen prior to the onset of a seizure and may be a symptom of a seizure itself. The strain of worrying about seizures can also be particularly difficult and stressful, leading to an increase in migraine headaches.

Addressing Both Conditions

Migraines involve throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head with other symptoms such as dizziness, visual disturbances and nausea. In a sense, it's good news that migraines share some of the characteristics of epilepsy, because you can address both conditions simultaneously when they co-exist. It is thought that migraines and epilepsy are both triggered by hormones, anxiety, stress and alcohol, so limiting these and developing coping strategies may help. There is also the suggestion that a migraine headache may precipitate a seizure although this is still controversial.

It is important that if you are experiencing migraines alongside your seizures, you should seek treatment for both conditions. Despite the links and similarities, migraine headaches are a distinctly different condition than epilepsy and your doctor should provide an accurate diagnosis. Most doctors will be sensitive to the differential diagnosis of migraines and epilepsy and if you do suffer from both, treatment will collectively address both conditions. Some drugs may be appropriate for one condition but may have detrimental effects on the other. Certain classes of anti-depressants, for example, are helpful for migraine but can increase the frequency of seizures.

Medication

Anti-convulsants, which are prescribed for epilepsy, have been used in migraine patients without the condition, although this practice of using a drug for a different disorder than it was intended is not always viewed as a favourable one. One drug recently examined is an anti-epilepsy drug called topiramate and it was found to be effective for migraine treatment. Topiramate limits the stimulation of cells in the brain, which appears to help both epilepsy and migraines and further strengthens the proposed link between the two. For those who suffer from both conditions, however, use of one drug to treat two conditions can make treatment easier. Research results are still quite mixed regarding the effectiveness of various anti-convulsants but your doctor can decide if this treatment is appropriate for you.

It is unfortunate that migraines are not always viewed as a serious disease and so a person is more likely to seek treatment for epilepsy than migraines. It is, however, important that you seek treatment for symptoms occurring from both. There is help for epileptics who suffer from migraines but you need to ask for it!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • OllO
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Kk - I would. Obviously, it's going to be an impact, but if it doesn't subside it's always good to get stuff checked out…
    19 July 2018
  • Mr.brown
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    Question I recently had taken sti antibiotics for one week after that's about a week from the last day I took the pills I start…
    11 July 2018
  • Hil
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    @CarryWarry - Oh wow - thanks for this. I have had a continual headache since menopause, having never suffered previously in my life.
    2 July 2018
  • MiM
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Queen - go back. If you have taken the time out to ask for help, then you need to see someone as obviously your neck is not right.
    2 July 2018
  • CarryWarry
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    I am hoping to be at the end of a horrific 2.5 year period of hell with headaches which came out of the blue. My story started with me…
    2 July 2018
  • Queen
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I hit my head about 3 months ago. It hurt but I'm someone who has a high pain threshold and tend to "walk things off". However,…
    2 July 2018
  • Shazza
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I fell few weeks backs banging my head slightly. But last few days my head as been a bit fuzzy with headaches any need for…
    19 June 2018
  • Migraines/tension/pr
    Re: Numbness in Head With Pain and Dizziness: What Can it Be?
    I feel numbness on both sides and top of my head feels like my brain is swallon like a lot…
    18 June 2018
  • Lou
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    I'm having lightheaded and can't stand up been in hospital they done all the test MRI ct scan all clear had a really bad attract…
    11 June 2018
  • N0NE
    Re: Headache With Pins and Needles: Is This Serious?
    Started feeling nausea yesterday,just now I felt sick,stood up and felt dizzy felt like I was going pass…
    5 June 2018