Martin Forshaw – My Prevention Strategy for Vestibular Migraines
It’s commonly cited that migraine may affect about 1 in 6 people and around 4% of the population suffers with some form of chronic daily headache (Src). It’s a debilitating and frightening condition and unfortunately, there is still a lot to learn about the causes and triggers as well as the all important cures.
I was recently diagnosed with Vestibular migraine after 13 years of enduring the unbearable symptoms of an attack about once a month. Vestibular migraines are slightly different from traditional migraines in that there isn’t always a headache. One of the main symptoms is dizziness and this can manifest itself in a range of different ways. In my case, the room spins for a few seconds (usually) and then I would have this increased feeling that I was looking at the world through a fish tank (weird, I know!). It’s a very detached feeling and things just seem swirly and it’s very difficult to actually focus on things.
My other symptoms include eye strain, tiredness/fatigue, difficulty concentrating, low mood, eye floaters, sensitivity to loud noises and tinnitus. It’s a cocktail of horrible symptoms that are very difficult to deal with. That is, until recently.
Getting The Diagnosis (very important!)
Quite randomly, I recently decided to look for recommendations for a Vestibular rehabilitation specialist as along with the migraines, I also have Vestibular damage after a bad case of the flu. She assessed me via Zoom and explained that the damage I suffered back in 2007 is what triggered the migraines. It’s important to note that Vestibular migraines can occur without damage to the Vestibular system but in my case, I probably wouldn’t have them if the damage wasn’t there.
She explained it in a way which made sense to me. Basically, if the brain overheats then the likelihood of triggering a migraine is high. She obviously doesn’t mean overheat in the literal sense, what she means is that if the brain is overstimulated then you’re in dangerous territory.
Keeping your brain ‘cool’ mainly comes down to lifestyle choices and understanding the common migraine triggers, which are the same for normal migraines and Vestibular migraines alike. In my case, a lack of sleep is a huge trigger. If I’m sleep deprived my risk of an attack goes through the roof. Lack of sleep is a common trigger for all migraine sufferers because the brain is having to work harder.
Caffeine, alcohol, MSG and Aspartame are also common triggers. They can all impact the way the brain functions and increase the chances of overheating.
My Prevention Strategy
The first thing you must do is recognise the early signs of a migraine. This bit is crucial because it allows you to act before it progresses into a full blown episode. For me, it’s either that 3 second episode of dizziness or an increased feeling of detachment. For others, they may see an aura or get a small headache. Once you recognize these early symptoms, you can jump in and deploy the prevention, which for me is:
Step 1: Drink 1 pint of water.
Step 2: Eat something. Cereal, fruit or toast are usually my go to’s.
Step 3: Take 1000 mg paracetamol and 600 mg of Aspirin
Step 4: Take 3 m g of Prochlorperazine Maleate (Vestibular migraine specific)
Step 5: Sit or lie somewhere relaxing in a darkened room for at least 30 mins.
**Please seek medical advice before you take any drugs mentioned above**
So, the food and drink ensures I’m not hungry or dehydrated (which is another common trigger). The paracetamol and aspirin tackle the eye strain and headache. The PM (Prochlorperazine Maleate) tablets reduce the dizziness and sitting in a darkened room gives the brain a chance to cool down.
I’ve only had this strategy in place for about 2 months now and I’ve used it twice to prevent a migraine developing. Does anyone else use this or a similar strategy?
About The Author
I have a small marketing agency based in the North West of England and, along with my wife and 1 year old daughter, we’re currently renovating a 1930’s semi-detached house. I run a small marketing agency and enjoy running through the nearby sand dunes (without overdoing it, don’t want to overheat that brain!). Feel free to connect with me and ask any questions about the condition – although I am obviously not a medical expert.