Here are some steps to help reduce ocular migraine stroke risks. If you are experiencing an ocular migraine, you become aware of a growing spot that starts off little, but continues to get bigger. It can be difficult to see the difference between this and migraine aura.
Dr. Carolyn Bernstein, author of The Migraine Brain, has a warning in her book:
"Warning: if your aura lasts longer than an hour, contact your doctor. Although it's rare, this can be a sign that you are in danger of a migraine-related stroke, a very uncommon disease" (p. 97).
Another bit of confusing data increasing ocular migraine stroke risk is that it does not always have the pain phase, but in some cases, it does. We are all so different.
There are several types of migraines that can cause a variety of visual disturbances, such as hallucinations, blindness or visual auras. With the variety of symptoms that are possible, at times, a stroke could be confused with a classic migraine attack, especially if you have a history of migraines.
With ocular migraines, the pain is typically around the eye and is accompanied by symptoms such as double vision (diplopia), nausea, and vomiting. It is important to discuss this with your physician if you are concerned or at risk.
So what is the connection between strokes and ocular migraines? The connection between the two is relatively recent.
It's still not clear why there is a connection and how important this connection is.
The current theory is that all types of migraines increase a person's risk of having a stroke, not just ocular migraines.
Research is leaning toward the theory that there is a genetic link, which may explain why some people who suffer from ocular migraines may be at a slightly higher risk for stroke, but that this link is also between many types of migraines and dare I say regular strokes.
Individuals who suffer from ocular migraines usually suffer from the pain phase of classical migraine headaches as well. With this type of migraine, the headache pain typically comes after the irregular visual disturbances.
If you are experiencing an ocular migraine stroke, you become aware of a growing spot that started off little, but continues to get bigger and bigger.
This is sometimes followed by a colored, zigzag border. Currently, there's no known cause for this type of stroke, but theory is that it may be caused by stimulation of nerves at the back of the brain.
Here are some ways to reduce your risks.
The best way to deal with this is prevention.
Make every attempt to avoid factors or foods that have been known to trigger any migraine episodes.
These are more common in women, and those under the age of 40, by the way. Other conditions such as sickle cell disease, lupus, epilepsy, depression and hardening of the arteries, are also believed to be risk factors.
Always check with your physician, especially if there is a change from what you have normally experienced in the past with your headaches or migraines.
Focus on staying healthy, lowering whatever risks you can.
Don't smoke or take illegal drugs and always check with your physician regarding medications you are already taking to evaluate the risk of any of them triggering your migraines.
Check your supplements too, just to be sure they don't interfere with any medications or something else you don't know about.
Your doctor will most likely order some tests to help eliminate other neurological causes like those mentioned above.
This is very important. Never just take things for granted.
S/he will eliminate risk factors like: blood clots, brain tumors and other types of strokes. Once anything serious is ruled out, you can focus on attempting to find the triggers that set off your ocular attacks.
Dr. Charles Slonim says that "the brain is our central command center for all body functions, so tumors, aneurysms, strokes and degenerative diseases can have a myriad of signs and symptoms."
It's best to seek immediate medical attention if you experience anything out of the normal, from your typical migraine attacks like:
Stress is always considered a trigger for migraines, so make an effort to stay away from stressful situations where humanly possible.
Your lifestyle choices can definitely effect the occurrence of your migraine attacks. Exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, stay well hydrated and enjoy yourself as often as you can.
And learn some relaxation techniques. Here are a few articles I've already written that you can experiment with:
If you have ocular migraines, like I do, and you are more at risk of having an ocular stroke, educating yourself more on your diagnosis is a wise option. Ask your doctor for more information and ask questions until you understand.
If you'd like to read more on strokes, here are my other articles:
Knowing what to watch for can reduce your anxiety!
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References for Ocular Migraine Stroke Risks:
1. Bernstein, Dr. C. (2008) The Migraine Brain. Pocket Books: NY. (p. 97).
2. Slonim, Dr. Charles (2015) Ocular Migraines. [Online] Available: http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/ocular-migraine.htm