Thursday, January 26, 2023

Do Migraines Cause Brain Damage

Must read

Can Migraines Cause Lesions On The Brain

What happens to your brain during a migraine – Marianne Schwarz

Yes. A landmark study published in Neurology concluded that migraines can cause lesions, particularly in the brains white matter.

Another well-acclaimed study published in the journal, Cephalalgia in 2011 found that migraine attacks do not only cause brain lesions but also iron depositions. In addition, the researchers reported a correlation between increased risk of developing lesions and the frequency of migraines. Similarly, the longer a person has experienced migraine attacks, the higher the risk is of developing brain lesions.

How Does Migraine Affect Thinking And Memory

Although most people with migraine dont experience memory loss, about 40 percent of those who have it do experience cognitive impairment, including declines in attention, processing speed, and memory, according to a study published in 2021 in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

In general, problems with focus and memory are more common in those with chronic migraine than in those with episodic migraine, a study published in 2020 in the Brazilian medical journal Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria found. In the study, nearly two-thirds of people with chronic migraine experienced memory problems, and they were up to four times more likely than those with episodic migraine to do so.

Chronic migraine is defined as having at least 15 headache days a month, with at least eight of those headaches having migraine features, for more than three months, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Still, the links between certain types of migraine and memory loss continue to be evaluated in research studies, and those relationships may become clearer as our understanding of the genetics behind migraine grows, Begasse de Dhaem says.

In addition, we dont have enough data to make statements regarding memory loss and migraine frequency, duration, and presence of aura, she adds.

Are Your Migraines Hurting Your Brain

Neurobiology researchers from Peking University and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania recently published a study on the negative effects of sleep deprivation. They subjected laboratory mice to short and long periods of sleeplessness and then looked at their locus coeruleus, the nerves that interact with cognitive function and control alertness in general. The research findings show that long-term loss of sleep can cause brain damage by diminishing brain cells by as much as 25 percent. Like sleep deprivation, migraines can also cause brain damage on a long-term basis. Medical researchers have determined that patients who live with migraine conditions have a significant risk of developing cerebral injuries known as white matter brain lesions.

Recommended Reading: Why Do Guys Get Migraines

Why Does Migraine Cause Memory Problems

Memory problems can occur at any time during a migraine, according to the AMF. When your migraine attack begins, you may experience feelings of haziness, or brain fog, that can last for a few hours or even a few days, the organization says. However, those symptoms usually develop about two days before the pain symptoms and last until a day after the pain resolves.

Because of that time line, brain fog may be a warning sign of migraine attack onset, the AMF notes.

If you develop brain fog, you may have difficulty focusing or finding the right words. You may also feel distracted, forgetful, less alert, or have trouble completing simple day-to-day tasks.

In most cases, the memory loss problems associated with chronic or episodic migraine are short-term, and they are usually the result of problems with attention caused by the disorder, Begasse de Dhaem says.

If someone isnt able to pay attention or concentrate and then doesnt recall the information they learned, its not that they forgot or experienced memory loss its that they had difficulty paying attention, she adds.

Dangers Of Low Oxygen Levels

Abnormal Mri Findings In Benign Exertional Headaches

When migraines cause oxygen shortages in your brain, your body will try to fix the problem. The brains arteries enlarge, in hopes of allowing oxygen-rich blood to enter your brain. However, even with the arteries expanding, brain damage can still occur.

Lacking oxygen, the brains cells structures will begin to fall apart. The effects are similar to what happens to someone when they have a stroke or heart attack.

Don’t Miss: Does High Blood Pressure Cause Headache

Migraines And Your Long

While it’s good news that you can reroute your brain, it’s also important to be aware of the other ways chronic migraine — and how you deal with it — might affect your well-being.

For some people, when mental and physical pain come together, it can become overwhelming. Brennan calls it the “pain hole.”

Don’t let migraine take over the happy and productive parts of your life. If you find that you start to feel depressed, anxious, or are losing sleep or always stressed out, tell your doctor. Working with a therapist and getting support — along with good medical care for the migraines themselves — should help keep you well.

Show Sources

Important Stages Of Migraine

There are four stages of migraine: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome.

  • Prodrome: This stage occurs one or two days before a migraine attack. People may experience warning signs such as mood changes, neck stiffness, and fatigue.
  • Aura: This stage occurs during a migraine attack. People may experience visual disturbances such as flashes of light or blind spots. Other symptoms may include numbness, tingling, and difficulty speaking.
  • Attack:This stage is the actual migraine attack. People may experience severe headache pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Postdrome:This stage occurs after a migraine attack. People may experience fatigue, mood changes, and difficulty thinking clearly.
  • Don’t Miss: Symptoms Headache And Sore Throat

    The Stigma From Modern Society

    • Migraines can affect ones quality of life due to the impact on daily life before, during and after a migraine attack.
    • Often, a stigma comes due to ignorance of the disease since most people take migraines lightly since they assume that it is just a regular headache. Chronic migraine sufferers can face the risk of losing their job if the disease interferes with their working productivity.

    Put Your Mind At Ease

    Dr. Peter Goadsby on Migraine and Brain Lesions

    Now you know the truth to the question, Can migraines cause brain damage?. Were you surprised to learn that migraines can deprive your brain of oxygen? Or how about how chronic migraines can reshape your brain?

    We hope our article will inspire you to take extra special care of yourself the next time you have a migraine attack. For more insightful articles, check out the rest of the site!

    Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Migraine During Pregnancy

    Mri And The Brain: What Can An Mri Tell You

    The main reason why everyone who goes to their doctor complaining about a throbbing head is not required to undergo an MRI is that the brain scan of a person suffering from migraine attacks look the same as someone who does not have a migraine. Also, imaging scans like MRI can be expensive for the NHS to perform, but private MRI scans are reducing in price and most are covered by private medical insurance.

    During your consultation, expect to answer questions and undergo a physical examination. Your doctor will specifically attempt to establish whether you are experiencing a primary headache or a secondary headache. The difference is that a secondary headache will have underlying causes, such as a tumour, while a primary headache will not.

    If your doctor suspects an underlying cause or wants to be sure your migraine does not indicate any other more severe condition, you will likely be sent for a migraine MRI scan to aid further investigation and inform diagnosis.

    What Are The Four Stages Or Phases Of A Migraine Whats The Timeline

    The four stages in chronological order are the prodrome , aura, headache and postdrome. About 30% of people experience symptoms before their headache starts.

    The phases are:

  • Prodrome: The first stage lasts a few hours, or it can last days. You may or may not experience it as it may not happen every time. Some know it as the preheadache or premonitory phase.
  • Aura: The aura phase can last as long as 60 minutes or as little as five. Most people dont experience an aura, and some have both the aura and the headache at the same time.
  • Headache: About four hours to 72 hours is how long the headache lasts. The word ache doesnt do the pain justice because sometimes its mild, but usually, its described as drilling, throbbing or you may feel the sensation of an icepick in your head. Typically it starts on one side of your head and then spreads to the other side.
  • Postdrome: The postdrome stage goes on for a day or two. Its often called a migraine hangover and 80% of those who have migraines experience it.
  • It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.

    Also Check: Can Dry Eye Cause Headaches

    Migraines And The Brain

    Multiple studies have found that people with migraines have an increased risk of brain lesions.

    The two main types of lesions found in migraineurs include:

    • White matter hyperintensities : These lesions appear bright white on certain sequences of MRI scans. These abnormalities can also be seen in elderly people and patients with stroke and dementia. In migraineurs, they’re typically found in the frontal lobe, limbic system, and parietal lobe of the brain.
    • Silent brain infarcts: An infarct is a small area of dead tissue that’s a result of restricted blood flow to the area. When infarcts are “silent,” this means that they’re not linked to any obvious stroke-like symptoms. Silent infarcts in migraineurs have mostly been found in the cerebellum, the brainstem, the supratentorial region, and deep in the gray matter of the brain.

    Experts have been trying to piece together the precise cause of these brain lesions, deciphering whether they’re caused by the effects of migraine itself or by some other factor specific to migraineurs.

    Tips To Relieve Migraine Pain

    Do Migraines Cause Brain Damage?

    To prevent brain damage youll need to know how to shorten the length of your migraine. The shorter, and less frequent your migraines are, the less likely it is that lasting damage takes place.

    Here are a few tips for relieving migraine pain:

    • Mindful meditation
    • CBD migraine relief
    • Rest in quiet and darkness

    When you practice mindful meditation, we suggest you focus on your breathing. Instead of listening to a meditation tape, pay attention to the inhale and exhale of each breath. Dont judge your breaths, or even your pain, just breathe.

    Recommended Reading: Is Botox For Migraines Covered By Insurance

    What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines

    Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.

    How Does Migraine Affect The Brain

    Migraine is a neurological disease that causes recurrent attacks of headaches and other symptoms. The exact cause of migraine is unknown, but it is thought to be related to changes in brain activity. During a migraine, it is believed that certain areas of the brain become activated and then over-stimulated. This may explain why people with migraines often experience an aura, which is visual or other sensory disturbances.

    One theory is that the repeated activation and over-stimulation of certain areas of the brain during migraine attacks could eventually cause structural changes in the brain. Another theory is that migraines might cause inflammation in the brain, which could lead to damage.Some studies have found an association between migraines and brain lesions, while other studies have not found such an association. More research is needed to determine whether or not migraines can actually cause brain damage.

    Also Check: What Helps With Migraine Headaches

    Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like

    A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.

    Types Of Headaches And Their Causes

    What Is a Migraine Headache?

    A lot of things can cause a headache, and not all types of headaches are the same. Generally, scientists divide headaches into two categories: primary and secondary headaches.

    Primary Headache A primary headache is generally a stand-alone issue caused by the factors we just mentioned: overactivity of vessels and muscles around the head and neck According to the Mayo Clinic, many things can lead to a primary headache: poor posture, alcohol consumption , stress, lack of sleep or changes in sleep patterns, or foods such as processed meat

    Several other issues fall under the category of primary headaches: cluster headaches, tension headaches, and migraines

    Secondary Headaches These headaches are brought on by other issues that affect the pain sensors around your head and neck. Secondary headaches can range in their intensity and can be caused by a wide range of things Here are just a few: Sinus infections, dehydration, dental issues, some medications, hangovers, psychiatric issues and many many other things

    Recommended Reading: Can Not Wearing Glasses Cause Headaches

    What Are Migraine Spots On Mri

    Image Credits: verywell

    There are instances where migraine MRI white spots can be seen on the MRI image scan of a person suffering from migraine. Some of these have been associated with stroke and multiple sclerosis. However, these migraine spots on MRI cannot be used to rule in migraine or rule out other conditions, since not all people who suffer from migraine attacks show these spots. In most cases, these marks are benign and should not be a cause for you to panic in case your MRI scan shows these.

    How Headaches Cause Changes In The Brain

    Scientific research has led to the conclusion that headaches may be doing more damage than simply causing pain. In some cases, headaches are acting like tiny transient strokes which leave the brain inadequate of oxygen and change it in significant ways. This makes it more important than ever to try to get control of headaches and migraines.

    Maiken Nedergaard, MD, Ph.D., the neuroscientist who led the study, said the focus of headache care right now is to try to reduce pain. Now, it is imperative we try to prevent headaches from occurring altogether due to the possibility of brain damage. Preventing headaches not only stops the pain but also minimizes potential damage. She suggests becoming proactive when it comes to avoiding triggers and using whatever method that works to reduce the incidence of headaches.

    Don’t Miss: Migraine Medicine Over The Counter

    Are Migraines Hereditary

    Migraines tend to run in families. As many as four out of five people with migraines have a family history. If one parent has a history of migraines, their child has a 50% chance of having them. If both parents have a history of migraines, the risk jumps to 75%. Again, up to 80% of people with migraines have a first-degree relative with the disease.

    What The Research Shows

    Whiplash &  Head Injury

    While it’s clear that migraine is a risk factor for developing subclinical brain lesions, the causes, nature, and long-term outcomes are still uncertain and the research is somewhat inconsistent.

    As of now, research indicates that the presence of brain lesions seems to be more common in people assigned female at birth, especially those who have frequent migraine attacks and who have a long history of migraines. Lesions are also associated more strongly with people who have migraine with aura.

    As far as other causes for brain lesions, a 2015 study examined the relationship of cardiovascular risk factors , like smoking, high blood pressure, body mass index, and high cholesterol, to the presence of white matter hyperintensities in migraineurs.

    The results indicated that these cardiovascular risk factors weren’t associated with WMH in people with migraine, and other studies have shown similar results. The authors suggest that the effects of migraine itself may be the direct cause for the brain lesions.

    It’s possible that there are other factors involved too. For instance, some scientists recommend studying the relationship between a patent foramen ovale and brain lesions in migraines. A PFO, which is a hole in your heart, is more common in migraineurs with aura and is found in about one-fifth of the population. PFO increases your risk of stroke, as tiny blood clots can travel from the heart through the hole to the brain.

    Recommended Reading: The Different Types Of Headaches

    Do Migraines Cause Brain Lesions

    Studies show that having migraines can make you more likely to get brain lesions. These painful headaches are linked to two main types of lesions:

    • White matter lesions. White matter is tissue deep in the brain. Itâs made up mostly of nerves, and it plays a big role in your emotions. Getting small white matter lesions is a normal part of aging. Strokes, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimerâs disease can also cause them. Because they show up on scans as bright white spots, theyâre sometimes called white matter hyperintensities.
    • Infarct-like lesions. Your brain needs oxygen and nutrients. If blood flow is restricted or stopped, brain cells die. A small area of dead tissue is called an infarct. For people with migraines, these infarct-like lesions are silent, which means they donât have any symptoms. In older adults, these lesions are tied to the risk of dementia, but this doesnât seem to be the case in people who have migraines.

    A review of studies found that people who got migraines were more likely to have white matter and infarct-like lesions than those who didnât. Those who got migraines with aura, or visual symptoms like blind spots, changes in vision, or flashes of light, had the biggest risk.

    Getting frequent migraine attacks or a longer history of migraines also raises your chances of getting lesions. Women are more likely to get white matter lesions.

    More articles

    Popular Articles