There are many medical conditions which feature some similarities. They are linked together due to these and the way they interact with one another. Migraines and epilepsy are one such combination.
In fact, many doctors can misdiagnose someone with epilepsy as having trouble with migraines if there are no other epileptic symptoms.
Migraines can be a symptom of an oncoming epileptic seizure. However, migraines have many of the same triggering mechanisms that epilepsy has. One interesting fact is that people suffering from a migraine and people suffering from an epileptic seizure can have very similar brain function. This is measured through a test called an EEG, which measures brain activity and electrical impulses. These conditions interact in fascinating ways.
Similarities Between Migraines and Epilepsy
Both epilepsy and migraines seem to be brought on by triggers. Many people find that if they undergo too much stress or fatigue, they can get a migraine. Some women are susceptible to migraines when they are menstruating. People who drink too much alcohol at a time also often get migraines. All of these causes are common epileptic seizure triggers.
Arguably the most interesting symptom that is shared between migraines and an epileptic seizure is what’s known as “aura”. This symptom affects about 30% of migraines. During aura, people’s visual context is skewed. Many times they will see flashing lights or lines across their vision. Many images become blurred. This symptom is somewhat rare and not found in many conditions. One of the only other conditions in which aura can occur is before an epileptic seizure. This sharing of symptoms links back to the similar brain activity that occurs before each incident.
Migraines Before Seizures
For many people with epilepsy, a headache is a sign that they may suffer from a seizure, or some of the other symptoms of epilepsy. Sure, everyone gets a headache from time to time, but those with epilepsy need to be more cognizant of the potential complications when a headache appears. There are actually many different types of headaches.
Ictal headaches are a rare type of headache that epilpetic people can get. These aren’t traditional headaches, with an outside cause, but are specifically a symptom of an upcoming seizure. People who are taking medication to control their seizures will find that ictal headaches disappear, since they are directly related to the seizure itself.
Other Forms of Epilepsy
There are many different types of epilepsy, or conditions which are very similar to it. Typically, these will account for a small amount of epilepsy cases. For example, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a relatively rare version which affects children. Unlike some epilepsy forms, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome actually has multiple different types of seizures that can occur. The seizures are also commonly unresponsive to seizure medicine as treatment.
Dravet syndrome is another form of epilepsy caused by mutated genes. The seizures from dravet syndrome are very severe. They have several triggers and are often triggered by high body temperature in addition to the standard epileptic triggers. Dravet syndrome shows itself in the first 12 months of a child’s life. Usually the first seizure can occur around 5 months. Dravet syndrome is pretty rare, and accounts for less than 1% of all epilepsy cases.