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Millions of Americans suffer from migraines, a type of headache that can be quite severe and disabling. Different types of migraines exist, and one uncommon type of migraine that can be scary for patients and tough for physicians to diagnose is the complex migraine. Here’s a closer look at complex migraines, what triggers them, and how they affect most individuals.
What Is a Complex Migraine?
A complex migraine is a type of migraine that is quite serious, and it comes with symptoms that mimic the symptoms of a stroke. However, these neurological symptoms are reversible in most patients, and it’s extremely rare for patients to actually have a stroke while having this type of a migraine. In some cases, the symptoms may be fairly mild, with just some weakness on one side of the body, but it’s possible for the weakness to be so extreme that it results in temporary paralysis.
What Can Trigger a Complex Migraine?
The triggers for complex migraines are very similar to those of other types of migraines. Some of the potential triggers may be:
- Flickering lights (or other complex visual stimuli)
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Consumption of certain foods
- Sleep patterns
- Loud sounds
- Changes in weather
- Bright lights
- Stress or anxiety
- Foods containing nitrates or MSG
- Artificial sweeteners
Number of People Affected by Complex Migraines
Complex migraines affect very few people since these migraines are extremely rare. However, women usually have a higher risk of experiencing a complex migraine.
How Do Complex Migraines Affect Most People?
Before complex migraine pain actually begins, there are usually signs that a migraine is about to occur. The early symptoms often include short-term problems with sensation and muscle control, such as:
- Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body
- Feeling of pins and needles that may move from the hand up the arm
- Throbbing pain that begins on one side of the head
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Numbness that occurs on one side of the body, which may include half the face, the leg, and arm
Some patients who experience a complex migraine also experience symptoms that affect their communication and senses, including:
- Slurring speech
- Double vision, blind spots, and/or zigzag lines in the vision
- Difficulty speaking, such as problems remembering words or mixing up words
- Extreme sensitivity to smells, sounds, and light
These symptoms may last only a few minutes, or they could last for a couple of hours. Known as auras, these pre-migraine symptoms may be more severe and may last longer than they do with other migraine types.
Since the symptoms of complex migraines mimic those of a stroke, it’s important to see a medical professional if you have these symptoms to rule out a stroke. If you are diagnosed with a complex migraine, treatment options are available to reduce the frequency of your migraines. Schedule a consultation with our physician today to learn more about our migraine treatment options.