Hemiplegic Migraine Health Facts

Hemiplegic MigraineMost people think that migraine comes only in the form of headache that triggers mild to extreme discomfort. Most of us know that migraine can be so excruciating so as to disrupt daily activities, while in more usual cases, the condition could not be more than a simple headache. But have anyone of you come across the term “hemiplegic migraine”? This condition could be as mysterious to the medical community as it is to a layman, for little is known about this rare type of migraine. The condition differs from person to person, just like the typical type of migraine.

People with hemiplegic migraine experience one or more of the following symptoms: weakening of limb muscles, scrambled speech, and distortion of eyesight. In extreme cases, hemiplegic migraine is associated with inability to speak, dramatic (albeit not permanent) vision problems, and loss of mechanical control over major portions of the body.

It is also possible for young people to develop hemiplegic migraine, though this rarely happens.  There is case of a 10-year-old girl whose migraine typically lasts for a week. The poor girl can barely walk during her migraine episodes. A more serious case involves a young athlete whose right side of body gets paralyzed every time her migraine strikes.

To date, there is no definitive or authoritative treatment protocol for this type of migraine. It seems that treatment response varies from person to person. Doctors themselves are uncertain of their chosen approach to treat hemiplegic migraine, as there is no standard treatment to follow. Some physicians treat hemiplegic migraine as if it is just a normal migraine, though a considerable number of neurologists raise concerns on the health implications of such practice.

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It has been proposed that hemiplegic migraine sufferers have higher risk of developing brain and heart related ailments. There is also a possibility that hemiplegic migraine signifies risk of stroke, as purported by few. Should these assumptions were true, then seeking urgent medical intervention for hemiplegic migraine is a must to stave off more serious health condition.

The medical community is yet to understand the pathology and treatment of hemiplegic migraine, and this is unlikely to be accomplished in the near future.  For now, hemiplegic migraine patients have no choice but to endure chronic pain as they wait until the cure for their condition is discovered.

Just like a typical migraine, the onset of hemiplegic migraine is usually characterized by a condition called “aura.” This phenomenon creates illusive visual disturbance that somehow resembles images similar to fireflies, fireworks, tunnel-like structures, and in some cases, total but temporary blackness.

There are also instances wherein aura is not experienced at all. Migraine may be just few seconds away, and yet the soon-to-be-victim experiences no warnings at all, getting him off guard when the migraine strikes.

Another mystery surrounding hemiplegic migraine is that the severe conditions associated with it may not manifest during the initial stage of the disease. A migraine may be recurring for years, or even decades, and yet paralytic events and other hemiplegic aspects manifest only in unknown stage of life.  Thus what seems to be a typical migraine may progress to hemiplegic migraine in later years.

Hemiplegic migraine sufferers do not always experience adverse events during their migraine episodes. Experiencing an incidence of paralysis during a hemiplegic episode doesn’t mean that the next migraine will be as debilitating. Thus there will be times when discomforts could be as mild or tolerable as those of a typical migraine.

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It is common for some hemiplegic migraine sufferers to experience decreased verbal competency as they struggle to express themselves in scrambled words while in state of confusion.  Some get through temporary paralysis by dragging the immobile side of their body using a crutch or crane.

The above conditions may lead to important areas of medical research, but for hemiplegic migraine patients, the random aspect of the disease makes them more fearful of their condition.

It seems that hemiplegic migraine and typical migraine are triggered by different agents and conditions. Migraine episodes can be induced by things such as allergens, weather change, inadequate sleep and stress. What triggers migraine in one individual may just be harmless to other migraine patients.

Incidence of typical migraine is higher in women than in men, and the same is true for hemiplegic migraine.  That hemiplegic migraine is a genetic disease is a popular theory, though there is no sufficient scientific data that could strongly back such claim.

Simple health habits that could reduce the frequency of ordinary migraine or its severity also work for hemiplegic migraine. These are practices commonly observed in a healthy lifestyle such as taking a lot of rest, eating meals regularly, exercising regularly, decreasing caffeine and junk food intake, and avoiding stressful situations and other events that are likely to cause migraine.

Like typical migraine, there are prescribed medications for hemiplegic migraine. Oftentimes, prophylactic medications are used to prevent headache, delay the onset or decrease the frequency of hemiplegic episode. Physicians may also favor therapy other than drugs to work on factors that trigger migraine. You can also try to do some simple stretches to reduce the headaches.

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Most hemiplegic migraine cases are referred to neurologists. They will identify what are the factors that trigger a patient’s migraine by studying the course of the disease. Appropriate therapy will be prescribed based on such assessment. Neurologists will also regularly monitor hemiplegic migraine patients to forestall damages that might be caused by adverse hemiplegic events.

People who experience any symptoms typical of a hemiplegic migraine should meet their physicians right away. When it comes to hemiplegic migraine, urgent medical action should be taken to prevent long-term damage. Delaying the treatment of hemiplegic migraine can further complicate the adverse effects of the disease.  One hemiplegic migraine sufferer struggles to strengthen the crippled left-side of his body, which has been wasted for more than three decades. Sadly, his exercise therapy does little in reversing his condition.

Hemiplegic migraine is not a hopeless case. Early intervention is a critical step to forestall the frightening outcome of this chronic disease.

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3 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    I have this debilitating disease and had no idea about the facts till now this was a very informitive article and now I can share it with my family.

  2. katie says:

    My friend I think is suffering from this, she is in and out of the hospital every couple weeks with migrains. The dr has yet to figure out what is causeing them. She has gone through many types of thereapies and nothing is helping. She has had shots IN her head, a cathiter in her back, reduction of meds, changed to different meds. She has had many scans and everything always comes up blank. She has seen 3 different neruo’s and all cant find anything. She has a appointment with a suppose to be good one but he has a 6 month waiting list. Any other suggestions??

  3. flsunshinelady says:

    I have hemiplegic migraines since experiencing an MVA in 1992. The first occurrence was 3 months later when something in my head popped causing tremendous pain to occur. It was followed by several attacks during the year, but the worst is during the rainy ,hurricane season. I live in Florida.In 2004 it happened again. And now in 2010 another occurrence. Each time it causes pain and then paralysis which usually subsides the next day, leaving the left side weak.It takes about 6 months of therapy to learn to walk and function again. I am presently taking Fiorocet for pain and nothing to prevent them. I have seen many neurologists and still no preventative medications or treatments. Again this year,same time,started again. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

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