Vertigo is one of the most common complaints in medicine, as well as migraines. Specifically, vertigo, which is the sensation of perceived motion without actually moving, is reported by up to one third of people who have migraines, and general dizziness or unsteadiness is reported by up to three quarters of all patients with migraines.
There is usually a delay in diagnosis for vestibular migraines due to the fact that many physicians think of migraine only in terms of headaches rather than vertigo. Moreover, vestibular migraines usually occur with individuals who have had headache-like migraines in the past.
Various factors have been identified as being migraine triggers, including foods, stress, hormones, physical activity, sensory stimuli, and environmental factors. Individuals with migraine are often aware of the things that serve as triggers for them, since part of migraine management is avoidance of triggers. Some of the more common triggers are detailed below:
- Diet – Alcohol (especially red wine), aged cheeses, chocolate, aspartame, caffeine, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), as well as skipping meals or fasting, can trigger migraines.
- Stress – Stressful situations or relaxation after stress can trigger migraines.
- Hormonal changes – Natural hormonal changes such as during the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy and menopause, as well as hormonal medications such as contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, may worsen migraine.
- Physical activity – Heavy exertion or changes in sleep pattern can initiate migraine.
- Sensory stimuli – Bright lights, sun glare, and unusual smells, even if pleasant, could trigger migraines.
- Environmental factors – Changes in season, weather, altitude, or barometric pressure can prompt migraines.
It can be quite challenging to make a correct diagnosis. The first step would be to consult an Audiologist and ENT physician to rule out Meniere’s disease, benign positional vertigo or labyrinthitis. Thus, if you or a loved one suffers from vertigo, please contact the Hearing Institute of Ontario to rule out the above conditions. We are here to support you throughout this process.