What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

Migraines, Strokes and TIAs

The Link Is Confirmed

Research has confirmed a link between strokes and migraine headaches. Another connection is the similarity in symptoms between migraines and strokes. Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are mini-strokes and they, too, have similar symptoms to migraines. The primary difference is that the symptoms of a migraine will pass without causing brain damage whereas a stroke may leave the sufferer disabled. It is important to know the difference in order to take the right steps in treatment or prevention.

Migraine Headache Symptoms

Migraine headaches are more severe than an average headache. The pain is intense and, in the case of classic migraines, an aura may precede the headache by 10 to 30 minutes. Auras signal the onset of the headache and may appear in the form of visual disturbances like zigzag lines, flashing light, blurred vision or partial blindness. They also manifest as tingling in the hands or around the face. Sensitivity to light and sound often accompanies migraines, as does nausea and vomiting from the intense pain. Some people suffer speech difficulties and muscle weakness as well. The symptoms may last from 4 to 72 hours but they are not permanent nor do they cause permanent damage to the brain.

Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms that are prevalent with a stroke are very similar to those associated with migraine headaches. Numbness and tingling in the extremities and in the face are the same, and speech difficulties and muscle weakness is more prevalent in stroke than migraine. Whereas a migraine headache builds over time, the headache associated with stroke is sudden and severe. Loss of vision in one or both eyes as well as visual disturbances may also occur, as they can in migraine headache episodes. Facial distortion with the drooping of one eye or the side of the mouth is common and mental confusion occurs more with stroke than migraine. Stroke symptoms can last from hours to days with permanent deficits in cognitive function and muscle weakness often appearing.

Symptoms of TIA

TIA symptoms are the same as a stroke and are usually a signal that a full-blown stroke is on the way. TIAs do not leave permanent damage, as strokes do, but their presence should not be ignored. The primary difference between a TIA and a migraine is that the headache comes on immediately and is sharp and severe - as intense as a migraine at its peak. Medical attention should be sought and the symptoms should not be ignored.