Basilar Artery Migraine Symptoms

By Marissa Black

  • Overview

    A pounding head accompanied with a variety of visual and neurological symptoms is a familiar scene for anyone who suffers from Basilar Artery Migraines. These migraines are now more commonly referred to as basilar-type migraines since it is no longer believed that the condition results directly from the basilar artery. Although not life threatening, basilar artery migraines cause symptoms that are often similar to those presented by patients suffering from a stroke.
  • Visual Symptoms

    Individuals who are afflicted with Basilar artery migraines suffer from any number of visual disturbances. Although the visual auras are only temporary, they can be alarming. Individuals have reported seeing zigzag lines and other unusual visions near the start of a migraine. Basilar artery migraine sufferers often experience double vision during the migraine. Some people even find that they are temporarily blind! Although these symptoms disappear after a migraine, they are frightening and stressful for the migraine sufferer.
  • Neurological Symptoms

    Individuals who suffer from basilar artery migraines can have a variety of other symptoms that can mimic a stroke or other neurological deficits. During a basilar migraine, it is not uncommon for someone to have trouble formulating their words. Friends and family members might notice that the person suffering from the basilar artery migraine is slurring their words. Many patients have difficulty hearing while they are in the midst of an attack.


  • Other Symptoms

    The pain associated with a basilar artery migraine is generally in the back of the head. This differs from other frontal migraines that often afflict only one side of the head. Basilar artery migraine patients frequently report ringing in their ears during a migraine. Many patients have an increased sensitivity to sounds and lights during the worst part of their migraine attack. Some individuals with basilar artery migraines will experience dizziness or lightheadedness. It is not uncommon for someone to pass out as a result of their basilar artery migraine.
  • Distinctions

    There are a couple ways in which basilar artery migraines are usually differentiated form more common form of migraines. Although other migraine sufferers can experience visual auras and vision disturbances, most do not suffer the temporary blindness that is sometimes associated with a basilar migraine. There are not typically as many intense neurological symptoms with more traditional migraines. Basilar artery migraine pain is in the back of the head rather than being on one particular side near the temples or other areas of the front of the head. Basilar artery migraines normally differ from hemiplegic migraines as well since the basilar migraines are not usually accompanied by motor weakness.
  • Diagnosis

    Diagnosis of basilar artery migraines it not a simple task. Doctors will first need to rule out other potential causes. Most physicians will order a CAT Scan or MRI to rule out stroke, brain tumors or brain bleeds. Fortunately, these serious conditions are rarely the cause. A physician will take a complete health history and family history as another way to rule out other potential ailments. Lab work and other tests will be performed. Basilar artery migraines are typically diagnosed according to the symptoms and by ruling out other causes of those symptoms.
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