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complicated migraine
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complicated migraine

Last Monday my husband age 30 had a migraine with aura.  He saw the spots and after about 30 min started having problems speeking.  He could think of the words but could not get them out.  He went to the Er where then ran many blood test and he also had a cat scan.  Everything came back normal, and the doctor said that he had a complicated migraine which can cause stroke like symp.  He has had migraines all his life this one was just different. We went to see a neurologist on thurs. He put him on an prevenative med for his migraines and orded an MRI.  He said everything seem consistant with what the er doc said.  My question is could something show up on the MRI that didnt show on the cat scan that we should be conserned about?  Tumor ect.......   Yesterday he had an aura without the headache, so it seems like the meds are working?  Any info would be great, just trying to get some peace of mind.
Thank You!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
I cannot give you a clinical diagnosis unfortunately, as this website is purely educational.

Migraine can cause the clinical presenation you descirbe, and one can be more confident of this in younger patients (under 40) with a prior history or family history of migraine. One does not need to do an extensive cardiovascular workup for stroke in most of these cases.

One can never be 100% certain, and in any case with focal neurological symptoms an MRI should be done, as it is much more sensitive than a CT at picking up a structural abnormality. Rarely seizures can be with a similar presenation, but occur more commonly without headache, are shorter (2-3 minutes) and usually involve loss of awareness. Seizures cannot be 100% excluded if there is a clinical suspicion unless an aura/event is captured on the EEG, which can tell if there are any abnormal brainwaves suggestive of epilepsy.

We do not know why complicated auras occur in patients who have had regular migraines for many years, but maturational aspects of brain function may play a role.

Good luck
22 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, I also suffer with migraines.  I have had them for years and over the years have found that I have several different types also.  One of my triggers to a migraine with the aura is monosodium glutamate or MSG.  If I eat this, I will get the aura and headache.  It is the only time I get the migraine with the aura.  My sister gets migraines with just the aura as she has become older, so I think there might be a link with aging and getting just the aura and not the headache.  Good luck to you and I hope the doctors can help.
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Avatar_n_tn
Yes, I too have migraines.  I believe they are called neurological migraines.  Sometimes with the zigzag lines I can't see the lower half of someone's body and I have difficulty speaking.  Its alot scaier than the headaches. Now I try to relax alot more and they have become better.  Try biofeed back and yoga.  I think there is a signifcant pyshcological overlay to it. Not to mean they are all in your head, no pun intended but I think stress and anxiety makes them worse.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi.  I have had the same kind.  I find that it seems to be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, and MSG.  It seems whenever I had this, I had consumed too much MSG within 24 hours (soy sauce, parmesan cheese, etc).  

I wish you the best.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi. I've recently been diagnosed with complicated migraines after having one that lasted 3 months - during this time I only had about 6 days of headaches - the rest was aura. Symptoms were pretty extreme including tingling and numbness in arms and legs, inability to sit up unsupported, speech,balance, sight & bladder problems, vertigo etc etc etc. MS was suspected, but the MRI was clear and so it was put down to migraines. I've been doing alot of research on this as I found it very dificult to accept the diagnosis at first - how could all that be due to something so seemingly simple?. Here is some info I found out. Apparently migraine without headache does start for some as we get older. Headache is only a symptom of migraine and not the cause. So that doesn't neccessarily mean the meds are working yet. From what I've been told and read, all of the various preventative drugs take some time to make a difference. And not all of them work for everybody, so it may take some time to find the right one or perhars a combination. Anyway, I am not a doctor, - just a patient struggling to find the right drug for me. I hope it is straightforward for your husband. Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
my husband had his MRI yesterday and everything was normal!!! He is still having a little trouble with his eye, being blurry, but he seems to be beter.  The doctor put him on some blood pressure med to help controll the migraines.  I guess time will tell if it will work.  Thank You for all your support. It really helps!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
I've also been getting migraine with aura every year or so since I was 16 or so.  After getting 2 in one week when I was 21, I freaked out a bit (I also had trouble speaking and thinking clearly with the second one).  My mother got me a book on migraines then which included a lot of triggers and tracked mine down to Monosodium Glutumate.  Since then I've had none except when I accidentally at the MSG first and checked the ingredients afterward :-P

I did get something very weird happening 2 weeks ago, however, which my neurologist has diagnosed as a Migraine With Complications.  Basically I woke up an hour after I feel asleep with the right side of my body slightly numb (right leg, arm, face, torso).  At first my leg felt completely asleep, but it never did the 'pins and needles' thing.  After a few minutes I could walk on it, but it felt pretty unstable.  The echocardiogram, MRIs and MRA came back normal, as well as a ton of blood tests except for slightly high homocysteine levels.  The neurologist said this could make me more likely to have the nasty migraines, and that folic acid would help bring it down.  She also has me taking baby aspirin daily (mmm, orange flavor!).

Unfortunately I still have the numbness and she didn't have an answer for me as to when/if it would go away.  I've gotten used to it mostly, but I'm having trouble flipping pages when reading books (I can't quite get the edge of a single page anymore in textbooks).  So has anyone had anything similar and have some idea of what to expect?
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, I woke up at 1am this morning with a warm fuzzy feeling in the right side of my body ... and the numbness gone :-)  That was such a relief.  I don't know if it was related to the numbness or anxiety about it, but it feels like my brain has unclenched.  I started the folic acid supplement yesterday afternoon, so that might have done it.  Or it was just ready to go away anyhow.

So to answer my own question ... the numbness can still go away after 17 consecutive days.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey Guys,

I am recovering from about an hour's worth of aura as we speak, and guess what, I had Chinese for lunch from a restaurant that still uses MSG. I had no clue that MSG can be a trigger. I have this about twice per year and it is awful. I have grown more able to cope with it now that I know that I will not likely go blind as a result of the aura. It has caused me to go into panic attacks on a couple of occasions when I have them away from home (I am at work now). I have high blood pressure and am on medicine for it (Lotrel, benazepril). I have had the cat scans and MRIs over the years and they always come back normal. In addition to the MSG at lunch, I had a burger with Dales seasoning sauce on it last night (soy sauce type salty sauce). I definitely feel that this can be a trigger for my migraines. I sympathize with all of you that often suffer from them too. I usually only get a residual headache that is only there when I cough. It will last for a couple of days usually. I am 31 yrs old now and my migraines have ALWAYS been virtually aura only with sight residual headaches as I described. I first started getting these 10 yrs ago when I was in college (age 21). I don't smoke and very seldom drink. Does anyone have any advice? Talking to people that understand definitely does help. I don't really think that someone who has never experienced this can truthfully understand. I wish you all luck in coping and treating.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello.
I have had complicated migraines since I was about 16. I had migraines as a child but know one ever knew and I spent alot of time in pain, sometimes for several months. I was recently diagnosed with severe complicated migraines by my neurologist. I was put on a blood pressure medication and given a special medication to take on the onset of my migraines. My symptoms tend to be severe and extremly dibilitating. My mri has come back normal and I have been frustrated over this since the migraines have gotten worse. I just want to let people know there are others out there. My symptoms include: Loss of vision, partial or complete, sometimes in both eyes. My arms become weak and quickly become completly numb, along with my entire face. I loose the ability to speak and comprehend when spoken to. These symptoms usually last for several hours. Sometimes it takes me 2 or 3 days just to get my speech and comprehension back. So far I have not found any triggers. They all seem to come on randomly with out much warning and I have yet to find anything that I did or ate etc... that would suggest a trigger. In the last year I have noticed quick changes in weather pressure have been present when I had an attack. Like today, I had a migraine at my new job this morning, and the weather man said there was a high pressure system moving in. I was lucky I noticed it in time to take my fast acting medication and let my trainer at work know what was going on before it got too bad.
There was one interesting thing that my neurologist had said to me. He told me to stay away from Anti-Depresents that are labled as SSRI's and to be sure that I never take a Triptan migraine med or it will send me into a stroke. I was also told that complicated migraines tend to be genetic. I had another neurologist suggest some heart tests. She said, she had found that patients with complicated migraines with no real cause and a clean MRI, tended to have a small heart defect or abnormality that would cause a rush of un-oxygenated blood to be sent to the brain and cause a complicated migraine. When I get a chance, I'm going in for those tests.
Today I decided I'm getting a Medical I.D. Bracelet to ensure that people are aware if I am ever found in a strange place incompacitated. That way medical staff and who ever might find me, will have an idea of what is wrong with me, what my meds are and what meds not to give me. I would suggest this to others with severe complicated migraines that can come on suddenly.
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Avatar_n_tn
My hubby had a neurological event 2 years ago.  Looked like a stroke but had a blue aura at the hospital.  Every single test has came back negative.  We are seeing our 6th neurologist next month.  He has been left with a severe nearly daily headache directly behind the left eye, ringing in the left ear, balance problems, numbness in the feet, and inability to drive at night due to headlights appearing as streaks of light.  Headaches are directly related to sleep-poor sleep means increased headaches.  Also, apprears to have a mild form of narcolepsy (falls asleep easily).  No meds have been effective-too many side effects.  I find your comments about the complicated headaches interesting.  I appreciate your comments!  Helps to understand and research more!
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Avatar_n_tn
I am so happy I found you, guys!!!
Last wednesday I ended up in ER because I freaked out I was having a stroke. Well...the doctor did NOT run any tests, but said that was a migraine. I never had one before (although my mom has had them for decades, and bad ones too), and...I did not trust him. Of, course I thought it was a stroke, but he said I was too young?! I am 30.
I just hope he would be able to tell...the difference, I mean...because I am still doubting (even after I saw my doctor...who also thinks I am too young for stroke).
Anyway, my headache is still here...together with the feeling of slight numbness in my face and especially forehead. It feels like I had a botox or something.
I also have a residual tingling in arms and legs.
I am under a lot of stress...my dad is...well, beating a brain tumor....So...could this have been a migraine with a side of an anxiety atack???
Or does any of you think it might be more serious?!
Oh, yeah...during my attack (on Wednesday) I couldn't speak properly...it was weird!!! And I threw up, and I had high blood pressure, which is in my case pretty low.And...it started with the colorful circular object in my vision.
Oh..I hope there is someone out there to comfort me a bit.
Thanks a bunch, and have a great holiday tomorrow!
happy 4th!
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Avatar_n_tn
About 8 weeks ago I was sitting at work having a normal day, got up, almost passed out, the right side of my lip and tongue went numb, I got an awful bitter almost metallic taste in my mouth and my fingers and arm went very tingly - I of course went straight to the hospital thinking I was having a stoke at 35 and they said complicated migraine. I know how you all feel when they say that after years of having common migraines without aura then bam aura without migraine - you're like what the heck!!! Needless to say it's been going on consistently now for 8 weeks and still getting tests done all these symptoms but no migraine yet - Ive had EEG's, echocardiograms, doppler, holter, still waiting for MRI (in Sept) and now on Topamax which is causing very bizarre side effects so not sure that is going to work. If anyone has had anything similar to this, please if you can shed some of your experience. As I said, my symptoms have remained consistent daily - numb lips, tongue, feeling very week and lightheaded, tingling, really bad tin tasted in mouth etc.
Thanks so much!
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Avatar_n_tn
This is to Robswife - it sounds like you and I have the same thing - what meds are you on that have worked? As I mentioned, I'm on over 2 months of this and just started Topamax which side effects are pretty brutal - leaving me with no social life, no exercise and even finding it hard to work these days....
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Avatar_n_tn
Sorry I meant the last one to be to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had migraines with auras for almost 2 years. Most have been related to hormones.(39y/o female)  Then all of a sudden about 2 months ago, I had an episode without visual aura. I was driving and my head felt like it was contracting and squeezing. I immediatley went to my dr.'s office (who just happens to be a good friend) and she said that I was still experiencing an aura. I went home and took Imitrex, felt better. Next day, same thing. Third day, same thing only 10X worse. Imitrex wasn't helping. Took 2nd Imitrex and headed for the ER (my first ER visit ever). I thought for sure I was having a stroke too! Headache was on left side and whole left side felt numb. Very nauseated. Dr said it was "transformed or complicated migraine". MRI, CT and EEG all normal. Neuro doc started me on Topamax (nickname Stupamax). The weird thind is ever since, I have had a headache everyday! Some days just better than others. Also, still feel numbness in hands and feet and face. But the weirdest of all-- is now I feel carsick when I am driving. I have never had the slighest motion sickness before. I also have dizzy spells and vertigo episodes several times daily. I can almost set a pattern to them. About 1-2 hours after I wake up, again in late afternoon and again in early evening. I have only woke up at night a couple times with them.  Neuro doc will start testing for balance disorders in about a month if it hasn't gone away. Has anyone ever had this or heard of this?????
For those of you just started on Topomax (topamax), check out this link:
http://www.crazymeds.org/topamax.html
My neuro said that taking extra vitamin C will help with some of the side effects such as the tingly face. A bad taste in mouth is a side effect of Topamax but I don't think Vit C helps that.
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Avatar_n_tn
I had those spells too on Topamax - I would walk home from work and pray that I didnt pass out while crossing the street - needless to say I went straight to my GP and said get me off this crazy drug. Because my neuro is still on holidays, he put me back down to 25 mg so of course now I'm getting full on aura's again (Lightheadeness, numbness, pins needles etc) but it's better than what the drug was doing to me. I think that stuff is nasty and I'm now too afraid to even drive while on it. I hope you have better luck getting rid of those side effects. Keep me posted!
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Avatar_f_tn
I am not so sure that what I am feeling is from the Topamax. For starters, from the ER visit until I saw the Neuro who put me on it was 3 weeks and during that time I was experiencing the symptoms too. Also, he only put me on 25mg of the stuff. After a week, I started with the face tingling but it did go away after awhile but I am still experiencing the motion sickness while driving and dizzy spells and vertigo.
Any ideas? It all started with that last HA that sent me to the ER.
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Avatar_n_tn
No 25mg wouldnt do that to you - it would probably only make you a tad lethargic. It sounds to me like you have a complicated migraine aura as well which is what I have, I dont have the actual headache but all the other stuff around it. I wouldnt drive for now if I were you and what about asking your doctor to up your topamax dosage to 50mg to see if that helps you at all. It works great for some people and is terrible for others, hopefully it will be great for you. Good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey, for those of you worried about msg and other triggers, there's a helpful site about chemical triggers found in many foods.  Google "migraine elimination diet" and see the list of triggers. It has been helpful for someone I know, but I haven't tried it yet.  Good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
I understand your frustration with Topamax and until reading your postings I was beginning to believe I was experiencing something unusual! I have been on Topamax 50mg for about a year and a half. No side effects and have tolerated this mg very well but unfortunately my family physician thought that the amount of migraines I was experiences was still to frequent and sent me to a neurologist. I have had all the blood work, mri, cat scan and every other test that's been invented! Nothing unusual has shown up. My neurologist increased my dosage of Topamax from 50mg to 75mg to 100mg over the course of 6 days. Once I got to the 100mg dose (3 days ago) I've had non-stop migraines, dizziness and blurred vision. I've gone through 3 of my sick days at work because honestly,I don't trust myself driving right now. I, like you, have also noticed a pattern to the dizziness. I do not have an explaination as to why. I have been on the Topamax website and have seen the dizziness is a side but no indication as to how long it lasts. I  have a call into my neurologist at the time of this writing and hopefully will get some answers. I have also heard the drug Depokote (I hope I spelled it right) is also being used as a migraine preventative. Has anyone used it with success?
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Avatar_n_tn
I also have suffered from migraines since my late teens,like valentijn. I finally figured out that I react to MSG. I have tried for years to avoid it, but it is in so many foods.  I couldn't go out to a restaurant without getting a headache that would last for days.  I have found MSG in salad dressing and soups.  I just could not avoid it unless I ate totally all natural foods.  My husband was growing tired of my constant headaches, and one night while I was trying to sleep off the pain, he was looking on-line for a way to help me.  He found a product called MSG Buster, and got it for me to try.  It worked. For the first time in twenty years I don't suffer from migraine headaches.  I just take the pill 15 minutes before I eat something with MSG and I don't get the headache.  It is a true miracle.  The only time I get headaches is when I forget to take it.
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Avatar_f_tn
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