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Avatar universal

Complicated Migraine at age 33?

Good day all.  I went to the ER in November and was diagnosed with having had a TIA.  When I was released I went to see follow up doctors. I saw a Neurologist and she was bewildered. She didn't know what to tell me. In her final notes she diagnosed me with a complicated migraine. During the appointment she said that a complicated migraine is gotten by 15 year olds. She said I'm far from 15. :)  Then she goes to her colleague and they can't decide what's wrong with me.  I was diagnosed by the ER with a TIA and then because they can't decide I feel she just labeled it a complicated migraine. It's ok not to know the answer. At the time of the stroke symptoms I had I was using the birth control patch Ortho Evra. I was told by everyone to stop. I did. I haven't had any other kind of episode. No headaches before or after. I had a dull ache in my head while I lost vision and had numbness in my left side in November when I went to the ER. Is there a way to really tell the difference between a TIA and a Complicated headache?   My question really is, is it common for a 33 year old to have those complicated headaches? Will they happen often? This is the first and only time I have ever had anything like this. Is it common that it happened out of the blue and while I was using the birth control patch? Is it safe for me to go back on the patch if she said it was a complicated headache?

Thank you!
83 Responses
Avatar universal
I too am 33 and was diagnosed with having either a complicated migraine or possible TIA almost 4 years ago.  While I was at home with my 4 kids, my speech started slurring, all the wrong words were coming out, couldn't get the names of my kids right, couldn't dial the phone, total confusion....  About 30 minutes before that I had visual problems.  Doctors still to this day don't know what it was.  I had MRI, CT scan, bloodwork, TEE ultrasound, and many more tests.  The doctors have me taking daily aspirin and staying of any type of Birth control pills just to be safe.  We may never know what it was.  Very frustrating!!!  I do not have a history of any type of migraines at all. Don't smoke/drink/and am very healthy.   And since this episode have had weird tingling/numbness/pins & needles feelings. Thankfully nothing like the episode I had a few years back.  That was scary. Make sure you talk to your doctors and ask them specifically what  you should or should not take.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with complicated migraine at the Cleveland Clinic at age 34. My best friend also has the condition, diagnosed in her 30s. I am now age 53 and have been on a variety of medications over the years. It is a very REAL condition which does cause TIA and stroke. Australia has studied it more than US doctors. I also have vasospasm disease which causes angina (since my 40s) which Dr. Eric Topel Cleveland Clinic believes is related to the migraines. When diagnosed by Dr Tomsic, an ophthaneurologist( I had partial blindness in my right eye caused by a TIA)in 1984, there was little that he said they could do. Since then there are many types of medications which work to some degree of another to help, though none eliminate the headaches all together. I have low blood pressure and no other 'risk factors' at the time that the condition began. It just is. There are now conditions called basal migraines and CASDIL migrines which also cause TIA/Stroke which you can find information on the web about, which may also be diagnosed as complicated migraines.In any case, find a doctor who understands or is willing ot learn about the condition. While called migraine, it really isn't like simple or complex migraine nor does it respond to the same treatments.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with Complicated migranes when I was 14; I am now 57..at that time little was known.At least one woman in every generation had CM; mine have been the worst.
I was treated with every drug under the sun; mostly just for relief of the pain.And as a teen and young adult my parents took me to every dr and headache clinic possible..One dr even told my parents I suffered from "depression" and a therapist was all I needed..

Skip over 40 years;about 5 years ago, I was put on a siezure medication; which has helped me immensly.The frequency of headache has gone from 2-3 a week to one every  three months or so..The side effects of the medication are not so pleasant : Acid reflux; short term memory loss.But I am willing to deal with this to live a "normal " life..

Recently, I found out a very interesting link between PFO ;migranes and strokes...go to www.pfodoctor.org and read about the connection of Paten Framen Ovale and strokes... and migranes.. It appears that if one has a PFO it MAY be the cause for migranes and strokes.. and if closed.. may prevent strokes.. and migranes...tests are starting now...

I am sorry that I can not remember the name of my medication; it will come to me... One of the side effects...

My auras used to last for about 3-4 hours;visual; speech and loss of a hand and leg..The pain would last for about a day with a "hangover" for a day or two...

Thank you for listening... I hope my information can help someone..
Avatar universal
Hi. I was actually frightened and relieved at the same time to see other posts regarding this. I am female age 30. I have had "complicated migraines" for about three years now.
I too have had a gazillion tests done including but not limited to MRI.MRA, bloodwork, etc. I get lightening bolts and aura about 30 min or so preceeding my "attacks". I too exerience left side numbness to the point I cannot move. Also I have spoke in "tongues" and have lost fluidity in the english language when this happens. As far as the pain, it feels as though my head is in labor (when they ask at the ER, "so on a scale from 1-10...I say LABOR!!!!") I was told I could not have triptans as they would increase the stroke symptoms I get.
My body will go numb for hours. I too feel "hungover" for a couple days afterwards. At the same time, I am quite calm, almost as if I am in a daze the following days. Mine are infrequent at the moment but with each one the intensity and duration is increasing. My Neurologist placed me on butilabit?? I think that is how it is spelled no bottle in front of me. I remember going to get it filled and the pharmacists says "This is for headaches" "HEadaches?!?!" This drug does nothing for me except take a little edge off the pain. Right now, as inconvenient as it is, my local ER dept has quite the cocktail for me and are more than willing to help. However I would like a preventative drug of somekind. Right now I get a combo of toradol and morphine with some benadryl on the side. We recently discovered no reglan for me.(bad reaction).but I do not get nauseous when these happen.
Last time I "seized" and the er doc thought it was due to the nad reaction from the reglan but I am worried.
I'm no doc but as I am sure like the rest of you I do as much research as possible.
In regards to the PFO...I was born with that. I have since been ultrasound and scoped...it has closed. completely. And yet, these "migraines" keep coming.
I wish everyone luck and we are not alone in this.
I have an appt to see the Neurologist again soon. BTW , he had stated this is all from stress.lol. I am not a drinker. I am pretty healthy to the point I rarely eat processed foods.
I do have hypothyroidism and barretts esophagus (ulcers and acid reflux caused this).
I do not take birth control and have not in almost 6 years (due to vein problems). These attacks started a couple years after the birth control.
Hopefully one of our doctors can nail this one on the head so we can start living with some normalcy again.

Take care everyone
Avatar universal
After reading your post, I could not believe how strangely similar our symptoms are.  I am 22 and just started having these episodes a few months ago.  It begins with severe confusion, very hard to explain.  I cant seem to say what i am thinking at the time.  I have trouble thinking full thoughts and cannot express them properly.  For example, I couldnt speak but i kept saying "I cant hear."  or when my face was going numb, i kept saying "my numb is face"  Its very frustrating bc i know what i want to say and i know it comes out wrong.  Then the right side of my body goes completely numb.  This all lasts for about 30 min.  Then the headaches start.  last time it took over 15 hours to get rid of my headache.  I also feel "hungover/out of it" for the following 3-4 days.  

These symptoms started occuring about 4 years after i started taking birth control.

I also suffer from ulcerative collitis and acid reflux.

I am still in the process of MRIs/MRAs?EEGs.  I know you had these symptoms a year ago, so if you could offer me any advice i would really appreciate it.  I am nervous and really want to do everything I can to get back to a normal life.  
Avatar universal
Hello, all!  My migraines started at 15.  At 34, I had what was thought to be seizures.  After visiting several neurologists, I found a wonderful doctor who explains everything to me.  He diagnosed me with Complicated Migraines and I've been taking Zonegran for a year and half.  I find it ironic that I take a seizure medication for migraines.  

I'm no longer scared about driving, being alone, or that I'll convulse in public.  One of the side effects of Zonegran is weight loss, which improved the symptoms of my other neurological disorder, Psuedotumor Cerebri.  This was causing blindess, but I had an Optic Nerve Sheath Decompression on my right eye to drain excess fluid.

I think it's important that one finds a patient (no pun intended), understanding doctor who isn't quick to diagnose and prescribe any "old" drug.  I pray all of you will find the relief that took me a long time to find.  

Take Care of You & Yours!

P.S.   In reference to the birth control, try Mirena, if it's right for you.  Visit http://www.mirena.com for more information.  
Avatar universal
Hi All,
I am a 33 year old woman having suffered from what I was told was basilar migraines for 7 yrs. They have gotten worse for me lately. I get left side weakness including my face. I get confused and slurr my speech. Much like a seizure or TIA. My neuro doc wants me to start taking topamax because he says they are happening to frequently. His concern is I may have a stroke.  My doctor that I had prior was convinced that I was having seizures and put me on kepra which made me feel Like I was dying, so I am nervous about taking topamax.

I too was given reglan and had a bad reaction which I never seemed to fully recover from and seems to have made these migraines worse.

I seem to always have these events after a meal so I am looking into celiac disease. Some of the symptoms seem to be connected.

This whole thing with complicated migraines are completely scary. I am starting to think friends and family just think I'm crazy. I wish more people knew about it.
Avatar universal
My sister is 49 and has been diagnosed with complicated migraines. She too has slurred speach trouble getting her thoughts out, numbness and total paralysis of both arms and legs, but not headache pain. They have run every test on her possible. They call her migraines silent. Have you ever heard of this? She can't work with this. She has total fatigue. He last attack was on Saturday. She has 2 of them. It is not Tue. and she still doesn't have her speech back. We took her yesterday to have a MRI with contrast of the brain to check for a stroke this time. The Dr. called back and said it was clear. I am so concerned for her. Does anyone else have this? Oh she also says she has water that often gushes down the back of her neck and spine. Ever heard of this? I wonder if it is linked. The Drs are puzzled with that one!  Thanks for listening. I'll add you all to my prayers as well as my sister.
Avatar universal
I am a 43 year old woman who thought she was the only person with these symptoms.  I first had a "migraine" when I turned 40. I have been poked, xrayed, mri, catscanned, ultrasounded, you name it I keep hearing what a "healthy person" I am. Without medication, triptalyn and neurotin I can't even begin to function. I don't smoke, wasn't overweight until this started haven't used birthcontrol in almost 13 years, very active. I have throbbing head splitting open pain always in the very back of my head, very rarily see auras, but do become light sensitive during an attack, ringing in my ears and often a feeling of moisture leaking into/out of my ears,  constant  extremly loud hearing of my heartbeat, naseau, vertigo. I have been in an out of hospitals, was out of work for three months two differant times, messed my knee up during a vertigo spell so I ended up with two knee surgeries. Was in a wheel chair for a period of time. My family suffers right along with me as it curtails many of our normal activites. I have been tested for thryoid, lupus, you name it everything is normal, they decided I don't have some disease which I can't remember the name of that basically means you have ringing in your ears, I recently was admitted to the hospital with what was originally thought to be a TIA but all tests say no stroke damage, All of this to be told I have complicated basilar migraine.  I searched forever before I found this forum, I didn't think anybody else had this or perhaps I hoped they may have found a reason/cause, way to get rid of the dang thing.
Avatar universal
To everyone, really,
I've had migraines since age 5-6, partly affiliated with fibromyalgia, but blessedly, not complicated--so far, at age 55.  I just wanted to refer you to the writings of Dr. Oliver Sacks, who has dramatic migraines himself and has written about the phenomenon through history. So, if you feel sufficiently free of pain to read sometime, look him up.  i don't have the name of the book with me.  Could it be _On Migraine_?  Best of luck to you all. I'm on this forum B/C my mother had a severe stroke recently.
Avatar universal
I was really suprised to see and hear that what has happened to me is  a lot similar to what i see on this website: I am 42 yrs old.  Recently (February 2008)  I  collapsed at work. The hospital diagnosed me as having  carpal tunnel,teninitis and maybe TIA . But they couldn't explain the reason for me collapsing. So they referred me to a Neurologist and I have had so many test done: MRI,SCANs, ETC..... he stated that he sees a white mass in my brain so I am going to have a
Spinal tap done. I have headaches since I collapsed. I never had headaches before. He prescribed an antibotic thinking it maybe sinuses, and a low dose of an anti-depressant for the headaches.

So I dont know how and why this is happened to me...  
Avatar universal
I am a 33 year old female and I was released from the hospital last week diagnosed with this same disorder.  My experience was very similar to everyone that has posted.  My husband woke me up at about 5:45 am and we started talking - only my words were all "jumbled"  I am a RN and I could not believe what I was hearing.  I sat straight up and told him to ask me some questions.  Still the same - backward mixed up words. I have heard patients do this but only after they have had a stroke.  I was so scared.  Then, I could not see partially out of my right eye, then my right arm and leg went weak.  Now I was really scared.  My husband called the ambulance we were so scared.  About an hour later the speech was better but I could not think of words, the arm was numb and still vision problems with the right eye.  Then the headache came on - not all of the sudden but gradually until hours later in the ER, I was nauseated it hurt so bad.  I, too, was worked up - CT, MRI, carotid ultrasound, TEE, EEG, blood work - none of this showed anything.  So, they said it looks like a complicated migraine.  It has been almost a week and I still do not feel right.  I feel as though my words are forced and my vision in my right eye is still not right.  Is this permanent?  I am a healthy 33 year old - good blood pressure, not on birth control (tubal ligation), I only take one medication for sleep, no history of any serious health problems.  I have had some bad allergies this year.  I just moved into a house and I think there is mold on the ceiling that was painted over.  Does anyone know if allergies or exposure to black mold can cause this? I have an appointment with a neurologist in two weeks. I hope you all the best.  
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