I had never heard of a painless migraine before I decided to do research for this article. I get over the top intense pain with my attacks. And migraines are typically associated with excruciating headaches. But a silent migraine can occur when you have aura symptoms without the headache. Did you know that pain is just one part, one stage, of the whole migraine process?
Most migraine episodes have four stages all up from start to finish. The prodrome, aura, pain, and ending with the resolution or postdrome.
The end stage, postdrome, can also have lingering symptoms like: headache, depression, and or fogginess. What I call the hangover stage.
The migraine classifications that are painless are called silent migraines and ocular migraines. You can still get all the other symptoms associated with classical migraine.
The first phase, the prodrome phase, can last for hours or as long as days, before the migraine headache actually starts. The typical symptoms include fatigue, depression, food cravings, stiff neck, diarrhea, and irritability. I also get VERY sore eyes, like they are being crushed in a vice.
The next stage is the aura stage, which typically lasts less than an hour and can also be very frightening and intense.
With a silent migraine, in addition to the visual aura symptoms, you might expect to experience such symptoms as:
Dealing with a painless migraine can be difficult. Knowing your symptoms is absolutely essential so that you will be able to understand what is happening to your body.
And a word of warning... diagnosing this type of migraine can take longer because of the fact that they are painless and physicians often look for other problems first.
So don’t be surprised if you get put through a battery of tests to rule out a more serious cause.
Once you are diagnosed it can be a relief. Now there is a known reason for some of the unusual symptoms you have been experiencing. Dealing with such things as confusion, loss of memory, and difficulty speaking, can be both frightening and frustrating. Serene Branson, the news reporter, comes to mind.
If you don’t know the story, Serene Branson, is a KCBS news reporter, who experienced a painless and terrifying complex migraine attack during a live report at the Grammy's. Her work colleagues assumed she was having a stroke. So even though it's painless, it could still be scary. Just FYI !
Here are some common symptoms to watch for:
Dealing with painless silent migraines is no different than dealing with classical migraine headaches. Once you sort it out, you can back to your best life possible.
Botox (Botulinum toxin) might be useful if you've been unsuccessful in treating your symptoms with other methods.
There are several other effective preventive medications available and new ones being invented all the time. Your doctor is the best resource for this.
Don't be afraid to ask the pharmacist questions too. They are a wealth of information when it comes to medication and side effects. But confirm everything with your doctor. And I mean everything right down to what supplements you are taking.
St. John's Wort, for example is great for lifting depression, but interacts with a number of medications. So just a note here to always be cautious.
Some experts say that people who experience migraines should avoid caffeine and certain medications, in addition to following a healthy lifestyle.
My article on caffeine and migraine will help you to form your own opinion on that. The great caffeine debate!
Common triggers, such as fatigue or stress can increase the frequency and even the severity of the attacks.
Make the attempt to avoid as many of your triggers as possible. I know you can't control the weather, or your hormones, but stress is a killer! It affects our bodies in so many ways. With the busy fast paced lifestyle we have today, it is hard to avoid stress. But you can learn new ways to change how you deal with the stress.
A simple place to start is by getting plenty of rest and plenty of sleep. Eight hours a night is what the research says is optimum. Form a night time sleep routine.
Reducing your physical stress will help your overall body to relax and will help you face the stresses of the day. Keeping a regular routine around meal times and including exercise will help you to avoid your triggers.
Don't smoke and decrease the amount of alcohol intake if you drink. Increase drinking natural spring water, clear and clean for your body to use and stay hydrated. Dehydration is a well known migraine trigger.
Learning to meditate can benefit your life in profound ways. Here's my course to help you manage attacks, anxiety and stress better:
Once you know your painless migraine patterns, your symptoms and your triggers, you are well on your way to controlling your annoying and debilitating attacks.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms and you think you may be having painless migraines, consult with your physician as soon as possible. Leaving them untreated can make them worse.
Use this Pain Scale PDF to help keep a good record for your doctors visit. Just substitute the word symptoms for pain and you're ready to go.
Be open to doing some tests to help rule out other serious conditions. And know that often this type of migraine can be prevented and treated successfully.
If your doctor doesn't know about treating migraine then get a referral to a specialist who does and who can help you.
There are more new and promising treatments available today than ever before, so don't give up.