You’ve been down with a terrible headache. How do you know if it’s just a headache or something more serious? Some of the migraine symptoms can be very much like those of a stroke.
If you feel you’re having a stroke, don’t delay. Immediately call emergency right away. Early treatment can be helpful and can limit damage to your brain and possibly save your life.
If you’re above 40 and have never experienced migraine, assume your pain is something more serious. All those who get migraines may have started experiencing them in young age. It’s rare for a person to have first one when he or she is older.
If you get a migraine attack and your aura symptoms are bit different, get checked out. Most people suffering from migraines have similar symptoms each time.
So, What’s a Stroke?
When a stroke hits a person, blood flow to part of brain is cut off, so cells in that part are deprived of oxygen and start to die.
There could be two reasons for this. Either the blood vessels are blocked due to a blood clot, or maybe blood vessels bursts or tears and causes bleeding in areas of the brain.
A sudden throbbing headache is a sign of a stroke.
Other common symptoms of a stroke are:
- Sudden dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
- Numbness or weakness, especially on one side of your body
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Trouble speaking or trouble understanding others
The kind of stroke that tends to be mistaken as a migraine is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). It’s also referred to as “mini-stroke” because blood flow to brain is cut off only for a short time. So symptoms are less severe than a regular stroke and may last for less than 50-60 minutes.
What Is a Migraine?
A migraine is often accompanied by vomiting, nausea, sensitivity to sound, light, touch or smell. The pain may pulse or throb, and it’s usually felt on one side of the head around your temple or eye.
A migraine with aura is often confused with a stroke. An aura happens right before the headache and affects your senses. you may see zig-zagged lines, flashes, or blind spots, or may feel numbness in legs, arms, or face, or some blind spots. You may experience ringing in your ears or may have trouble speaking. Sometimes, you may have all those symptoms without any headache. That often happens as you grow older.
How To Tell The Difference?
Sometimes it’s too difficult to tell the difference between a TIA and a migraine with aura. Here’s what to look for:
A stroke comes with many negative symptoms. Maybe, you can lose sight in one eye, or you may lose feeling in one of your feet or hands. A migraine most often will come with many “positive” symptoms. That means added sensations, such as tingling in your skin or flashes in your vision.
When a person is experiencing stroke, symptoms may come on suddenly. With migraine, they often happen gradually; the headache may start small and gets more painful with time.
if you’re young, then it’s most likely to be a migraine. If you’re older, it’s more likely to be a stroke, especially if you’ve never had a migraine attack before or you have an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure.
What’s the Connection?
Doctors around the world are still not clear about the connection between migraines and strokes. However, they are clear that people who get migraines with auras are twice likely to have a stroke than people who don’t get migraines at all. This risk goes up if you’re a young women who takes birth control pills and smokes.
You can still get a stroke if you get migraine attacks without auras. But they may be due to other heart-related issues.
One popular theory about the connection has to do with gradual damage to the tiny cells that line the blood vessels. A 1994 research has found that migraine can cause inflammation inside arteries and this can make them stiff and may cause blood to close more easily. Both these can increase your chances of a stroke.
It’s possible you may have a stroke while you’re having a migraine attack, but that doesn’t mean your migraine was responsible for the stroke. Sometimes stroke can easily trigger migraine symptoms, including the aura.
Certain migraine medications, including alkaloids, ergot and triptans, can narrow down your arteries. If you’ve had a stroke, you should avoid them.
In general, lifestyle changes (like quitting smoking) and medicines that lower your risk of a stroke may also keep you from having migraine attacks.