Basilar Migraine Symptoms

By Kathleen O'Connor

  • Overview

    Basilar Migraine Symptoms
    The basilar-type migraine, formerly called the basilar artery migraine, is a rare type of migraine that causes debilitating symptoms. The migraine is named after the basilar artery in the back of the brain, but it is still uncertain whether the basilar artery is actually involved in causing it. Basilar-type migraines are preceded by strange aura symptoms, which affect 15 to 20 percent of migraine sufferers.
  • History

    Scientists suspect that the symptoms of basilar-type migraines are rooted in neurological disorders. But, as with other types of migraines, the actual cause of basilar-type migraines continues to be shrouded in mystery. For more information about the neurological origin of basilar migraines, see "Additional Resources," below.
  • Significance

    The symptoms of basilar-type migraines can affect people of all ages and both sexes, but they are more common among women and young people. Sufferers are often mistaken as being intoxicated or drugged because a basilar migraine attack can lead to a loss of consciousness.


  • Features

    Basilar migraines consist of two stages: the aura stage and the attack stage. The aura stage is characterized by symptoms such as dizziness, double vision, a loss of balance, confusion, slurred speech, decreased hearing, visual changes and ringing in the ears. The symptoms of the aura stage generally last less than an hour, but in some cases can last up to days following an attack. The attack stage is characterized by a throbbing headache. The headache is usually very severe and felt on one side of the head. Many sufferers of basilar-type migraines experience nausea and vomiting, which lessens the intensity of the headache. During an attack, the sufferer may feel a sensitivity to light and loud noises. Some sufferers may even faint at the height of an attack. The symptoms of a basilar-type migraine attack are comparable to those of a stroke.
  • Warning

    Doctors believe that sufferers of basilar-type migraines may be at higher risk of getting strokes due to a temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain. The use of oral contraception and smoking during a basilar-type headache attack can increase the risk of stroke. If you notice any of the symptoms associated with basilar-type migraines, seek immediate medical attention because they could be indicative of a more serious health condition such as a seizure disorder or vertebrobasilar disease.
  • Prevention/Solution

    If you have a basilar-type migraine attack, lie down in a dark room and put a cold compress on your head to ease the throbbing. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter drug that can be taken to relieve the pain of a basilar-type migraine. Because the cause of basilar-type migraines is unknown, conventional treatment aims at suppressing symptoms such as pain and dizziness with pharmaceutical drugs. However, the best step you can take is to prevent basilar-type migraines altogether by removing potential migraine triggers from your life. Sufferers of basilar-type migraines should sleep well, eat regular meals and reduce stress in their lives. Alcohol consumption should also be avoided because it can trigger a basilar-type migraine attack. Foods that are known to trigger basilar-type migraines are cheese, processed meat and wine. To figure out what other foods possibly trigger the attacks, consider keeping a food diary and taking note of all the food you consume every day.
  • © High Speed Ventures 2011