Unusual Migraine Symptoms

May 12th, 2020


What does your typical migraine feel like? Every migraineur experiences attacks differently, though head pain, nausea, and light sensitivity are the most commonly reported symptoms. But what about those weird or unusual symptoms that you sometimes get before or during a migraine that nobody talks about? Are they a product of your headache, or could they be something else?

“Unusual” migraine symptoms are more common than you think

When you’ve suffered from migraine for a long time, you get to know your headaches pretty well. For example, maybe know precisely when an attack is coming because you get the same signs – aka auras – every time. Or perhaps you know that you always feel pain on the same side of your head no matter how intense your headache is. But when other symptoms that don’t fit the description of the “classic migraine symptoms” show up, it can be hard to find an explanation.

We don’t know exactly what causes migraine disease. Experts believe that many factors, including genetic predispositions, environmental triggers, and abnormalities in the brain’s structure may contribute to these debilitating headaches. Nerve over-activity and chemical imbalances are also thought to play a role in migraine development. What scientists know for sure is that there is not one single factor that causes them.

Because migraine is such a complex disease and we know so little of it, experts haven’t had a chance to study every potential migraine symptom. Head pain, nausea and vomiting, as well as sound and light sensitivity, are the hallmark symptoms of this condition because they are the most frequent, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others.

One unusual yet frequent symptom that people don’t associate with migraine is ear pain. There isn’t a lot of research looking at the relationship between migraines and the inner ear. However, one small study of 26 patients found that 92 percent of migraine patients with ear pain saw improvements after receiving a migraine treatment.

During the prodromal phase – i.e., a few hours or days before the onset of the attack – many migraineurs also report feeling clumsy or having trouble with coordination. However, people rarely realize that maybe they keep dropping their keys because a migraine is approaching. An unexplained toothache that won’t go away can also be directly or indirectly related to migraine headaches, particularly because a great deal of migraine sufferers also clench their jaws or grind their teeth.

There could be dozens or even hundreds of signs and symptoms caused by migraines that we don’t know about. Unexplained neck aches, gastrointestinal problems, and even some respiratory issues can sometimes be triggered by migraines, but without more research, it’s hard to be certain. These are other lesser-known migraine symptoms that are more common than you think:

 

  • Cold hands/feet
  • Puffy eyelids/eye irritation
  • Hearing loss or decreased hearing
  • Blacking out
  • Night sweats
  • Toothaches/sensitivity
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Stuffed nose
  • Hyperventilation
  • Aphasia (trouble remembering words)
  • Olfactory hallucinations
  • Frequent urination
  • Nightmares

The good news is that if you experience strange or uncommon symptoms before, during, or after a migraine attack you are not alone – a large number of migraine sufferers also experience so-called unusual symptoms. And more importantly, knowing the source of your unexplained symptoms can relieve a lot of the stress and anxiety that comes with them.