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Migraine Headaches

What are hemiplegic migraines?

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January 18, 2008 5:44AM

Hemiplegic migraines are a specialized migraine variant. They come with specific symptoms not seen in common or classic migraines.

There are two types of hemiplegic migraines, familial and sporadic.

Besides the normal migraine symptoms (photophobia, nausea, visual aura, etc..), people with hemiplegic migraines experience some or all of the following:

During the aura phase they may experience:

* The paralysis of the limbs on one side of their body (hemiplegia) * Numbness, tingling. * Motor weakness * Speech impairment (slurring or inability to find a word) * Impaired Consciousness (ranges from confusion to coma) * Fever * Symptoms of Meningitis

The symptoms of hemiplegic migraine can come on very suddenly. Because of this and the severity of these symptoms, and how they mimic many other dangerous problems such as stroke, it is recommended that hemiplegic migraineurs wear a medic alert bracelet.

The paralysis can last the entire length of the headache phase, the headache may start before paralysis begins, or head pain may be absent altogether.

The hemiplegic visual aura can be prolonged, and sometimes may even last weeks.

Currently, many of the abortive medications used in treating classic and common migraines are contraindicated in treating hemiplegic migraine. This is because of the stroke concern, as migraineurs who have such severe headaches with prolonged aura - have a higher stroke risk. For preventative medication, calcium-channel blockers tend to see the most success. So many hemiplegic migraineurs are being prescribed Verapamil, sometimes pairing that with Topamax to lower the frequency of the migraines even further.

It is essential to be working with a headache specialist when you have been diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines.