How do i know if its migraine?

Hi everyone, my name is Louise and I’m new to these boards but have suffered from dizziness and balance problems for the last 3 years. I have gone through all the balance tests, calorics etc but they can not find anything, there is no evidence of ear damage. I have really sensitive vision all the time, this is my main symptom which the hospital calls visual vertigo. My visual vertigo has improved over the past year but it is as though something changes and my vision becomes really sensitive and then i seem to be in a catch 22 when i get my visuals good then something happens and my eyes become really sensitive and it goes round in a viscious circle. I have done VRT for the past 2 1/2 years but still dizzy.
Now under a new consultant, he thinks that migraine could possibly be playing a part in this and he has referred me to neurology (waiting still). I have always been a headachy person, but sometimes i wouldn;t call it an headache sometimes they are more like head sensations down one side. I have always thought my headaches were due to sinus problems i have. I have recently been having more and more strange things happening when i suffer from subjective vertigo when i think i am moving, these only use last 5-20 seconds but then i feel rubbish and sometimes then get an headache or a head sensation. So heres what i want to know.

So how do i know if i have migraine? Could my visual vertigo be a symptom of migraine? What will the first neuroloy appointment consist of? Is visual vertigo common in migraine?

Any help or advice would be much appreciated



Hi Louise

Welcome to the forum, although I always feel sorry when people come here as it means another person’s got this pesky condition. However, you’re in the right place now.

What you describe would fit in with Migraine Associated Vertigo - lots of us here have visual vertigo as well as other odd sensations like you describe.

See what your neurologist says and if he thinks migraine, then hopefully he can try you on some meds.

You probably know this but the best specialists to diagnose MAV are otoneurologists, aka neuro-otologists, who are ENT surgeons with extra training in neurology and balance. Having said that, some neurologists are very good, and some aren’t when it comes to MAV. So see how you go with yours first.

You don’t say what country you’re in, but we (i.e. people on the board) might be able to recommend specific specialists to you.

You will find a lot of help and advice on this forum.

Good luck and stay in touch with how you get on!

Dizzy Izzy x

Thanks Dizzy Izzy

I am in Sheffield, UK.

Another thing i missed in my first post is i get what i call shimmying vision, everything i look at moves slightly to the left then to the right and this is also worse when i get headaches and also more noticeable when on the computer. Could this be a migraine symptom?



Hi Louise

Scott (our moderator) gets all sorts of visual symptoms and has probs with monitors too so hopefully he’ll comment on this thread.

Sheffield - hmm, I’m not familiar with any specialist in that area, but there’s a neurologist in Liverpool who is hot on migraine and its variants, called Dr Nicholas Silver. I guess Liverpool’s a bit far at 2 hrs drive. Maybe someone here knows someone nearer to you.

Anyway, here’s his link: … r_nick.asp

Dizzy Izzy x

Louise, welcome to the board - although its sad to see another ‘victim’! I live in Stoke on Trent and travelled to see Dr Silver - he does a clinic at the Warrington Hospital, so you wouldn’t have to travel to Liverpool. I really rate him - he knew what I was talking about and is helping me. Give him a try.
Good Luck

Get these books…
Heal Your Headache, by David Buchholz
The Migraine Brain, by Carolyn Bernstein
The are excellent. The clear up the questions and myths about migraine, offer much self-help, and also direct one on seeking out help.

Here are some excerpts from Dr. David Buchholz’s book…

“Normally your vestibular system controls your balance by means of the fluid-filled semicircular canals in the inner ear. These peripheral sensors are connected by nerves to certain pathways and centers in the brain stem and elsewhere in the brain, and when vestibular function is disturbed by migraine, it may be felt as unsteadiness, loss of equilibrium (like just getting off a boat), being off-balance, veering, swaying, falling, rocking, vertigo (a spinning sensation) -or just vague, nonspecific dizziness, lightheadedness, or wooziness.”

"Not only is the term “migraine” misleading when it’s used to designate one specific type of headache, but even the term “headache” is inadequate to cover the full spectrum of discomfort generated by the migraine mechanism. Discomfort may be felt anywhere in or around the face or neck as well as the head. Words such as “ache” and “pain” may not even begin to capture the discomfort you feel as a result of migraine.

Instead, in or around your head you may experience pressure, fullness, tightness, heaviness, thickness, numbness or soreness, or you may have swelling, burning, buzzing, vibrating, boring, piercing, drawing, expanding, tingling, trickling, bubbling, crawling, shifting, or rushing sensations. These sensations may be aggravated by bending over, straining, sneezing, coughing or exertion, or if you shake or jar your head.

You may have feelings suggestive more of lack of clarity than discomfort, such as cloudiness, dullness, fogginess, or fuzzy-headedness. Discomfort may be excrutiating, trivial, or anything inbetween…The severe headaches conventionally labeled “migraines” occupy a relatively narrow band at the far end of the spectrum."

“Neurological symptoms of migraine, including visual disturbances, dizziness, and many more, form a broad spectrum…symptoms vary extensively in degree and duration. Minutes-long is typical, but they may last split seconds, hours, or even longer - or even be constant for months or years…”

Welcome Louise,

Your symptoms sound a lot like migraine to me! The half head thing is a classic sign of migraine. Good luck with your new neurologist.