DISCLAIMER: This is an educational site for patients, caregivers, and medical providers. This information was accurate as of the date presented. Consult local medical authority or your healthcare provider for specific advice and referrals.
A vestibular* migraine is not just a type of headache. Instead, it can be spells of vertigo (the feeling of moving or spinning) or dizziness. Like with a regular migraine, these spells can last from seconds to minutes or even hours to days. Vestibular migraines are caused by activity in the brain pathways that affect inner ear balance control. Activity in other brain pathways create migraine pain.
Vestibular migraines can happen for no reason. They often run in families. They can be triggered by regular migraine triggers such as certain foods, changes in sleep and hormones, unusual activity, or stress.
Symptoms of Vestibular or Dizzy Migraines
A vestibular migraine may not cause pain like a regular migraine does. It does cause symptoms like the following:
- Spinning (vertigo)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to sound
- Motion sickness
Vestibular migraines are the second most common reason for vertigo.
Diagnosing a Vestibular Migraine
Your healthcare provider may ask if you have any of the following:
- Other types of migraines or migraine auras
- Sensitivity to lights, sounds, or smells
- Frequent nausea or vomiting
Your healthcare provider may ask you to complete vestibular or inner ear testing.
Treatment Options for Vestibular Migraine
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to prevent your migraines and treat them after they begin. Non-prescription medications are also helpful. Besides medication, your healthcare provider may recommend one or both of the following:
- Vestibular therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
Where Can I Find More Information?
- American Migraine Foundation—What to Know about Vestibular Migraine
- This video, from the University of Utah's Headache School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uniyHFJSY9
*See pronunciation guide.