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Basilar artery migraine

Basilar artery migraine: Introduction

A basilar artery migraine is a rare type of migraine, a headache that is severe, persistent and often occurs in conjunction with a wide variety of symptoms. A basilar artery migraine can be so severe that is disabling in many cases, leading to serious disruption of work, school, relationships, and social activities.

The exact cause of basilar artery migraines is uncertain, but they may be the result of a disturbance of brain chemicals and/or an abnormal functioning of the basilar artery, a major artery in the back of the brain. A classic characteristic of a basilar artery migraine is a dramatic aura, which is often a precursor to the headache. Symptoms of basilar artery migraine include neurological and sensory disturbances and a severe headache. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of basilar artery migraine.

Basilar artery migraine is also known as basilar-type migraine and Bickerstaff syndrome. Basilar artery migraines are rare. They can affect anyone, but are most common in young adult women.

Basilar artery migraines are often, but not always, triggered by one or more specific substances or situations. Triggers vary greatly between different people and what may trigger a basilar artery headache in one person may not in another person. Common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, dairy foods, chocolate, tomatoes, oranges, rye, wheat, and nitrates and nitrites found in certain foods, such as sausages and cold cuts. Other common triggers include hunger, overexertion, bright lights, fluorescent lights, high altitudes, and changes in weather. In some women hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle can trigger basilar artery migraines.

Making a diagnosis of basilar artery migraine includes performing a complete evaluation that includes a medical history, including symptoms, and a physical examination. This includes a neurological examination. A neurological exam evaluates the brain and nerves and such functions as level of consciousness, reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing. A referral to a neurologist, a specialist in treating neurological conditions, is generally made for definitive diagnosis and treatment of basilar artery migraine.

Because many people with basilar artery migraines have visual disturbances, including temporary blindness, an eye examination is performed to rule-out such eye conditions as detached retina. An eye examination includes testing visual acuity or sharpness of vision, checking the sharpness of peripheral vision, and testing the pressure inside the eye. The outer eye is examined using an instrument called a slit lamp, and the inner eye is examined using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope. During the exam with an ophthalmoscope, the pupils of the eye may be dilated (opened up) with a drop of medication to better visualize any changes in the retina.

The diagnostic process also involves keeping a basilar artery migraine log or diary to record the timing, symptoms, and the types of situations that occurred or substances that were ingested before the basilar artery migraine occurred. This can help to diagnose triggers and assist in making lifestyle changes that can minimize basilar artery migraine headaches. The type of treatment and its results are also recorded to help pinpoint the most effective treatment for an individual.

A diagnosis is made based on a history of at least two episodes of symptoms typical of basilar artery migraine and after ruling out other, potentially life-threatening, diseases and conditions with symptoms that mimic basilar artery migraine. These include stroke, and meningitis. This diagnostic process generally requires imaging tests, such as MRI and CT scan and possibly a lumbar puncture. It is possible that a diagnosis of basilar artery migraine can be missed or delayed because it is rare and because symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic basilar artery migraine, refer to misdiagnosis of basilar artery migraine.

In many cases, patient compliance with a good treatment plan can control symptoms of basilar artery migraine to a degree that allows a person to live a normal active life. Treatment plans include medications and avoiding substances and situations that can trigger a basilar artery migraine. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of basilar artery migraine. ...more »

Basilar artery migraine: Basilar artery migraine involves a disturbance of a major brain artery at the base of the brain. Preheadache symptoms include vertigo, double vision, and ... more about Basilar artery migraine.

Basilar artery migraine: Basilar migraine (BM), also known as Bickerstaff syndrome, consists of headache accompanied by dizziness, ataxia, tinnitus, decreased hearing, nausea and vomiting, dysarthria, diplopia, loss of balance, bilateral paresthesias or paresis, altered consciousness, syncope, and sometimes loss of consciousness. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Basilar artery migraine is available below.

Basilar artery migraine: Symptoms

People who have basilar artery migraines can experience a wide variety of symptoms. However, basilar artery migraines are characterized in part by a dramatic aura, which consists of warning symptoms that are a precursor to the headache. Symptoms of an aura may include lightheadedness, dizziness, double vision, loss of coordination, confusion, loss of consciousness, slurred ...more symptoms »

Basilar artery migraine: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for basilar artery migraine uses a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans are also individualized to best address the specific triggers and severity of the basilar artery migraine, the patient's age, medical history, and other factors.

Treatment of basilar artery migraine begins with prevention. This starts with maintaining a healthy lifestyle ...more treatments »

Basilar artery migraine: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of basilar artery migraine may be overlooked or delayed because it is a rare condition and because symptoms may not occur very often. In addition, some symptoms, such as visual disturbances, dizziness, and headache can mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as stroke, transient ischemia attack, psychosis, retinal detachment, ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Basilar artery migraine

Treatments for Basilar artery migraine

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Basilar artery migraine?

Basilar artery migraine: Related Patient Stories

Basilar artery migraine: Complications

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Causes of Basilar artery migraine

  • Mutation in the ATP 1A2 gene, similar to FHM, has been reported in members of one family with BM
  • more causes...»

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Disease Topics Related To Basilar artery migraine

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Basilar artery migraine: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Basilar artery migraine

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Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test more »

Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms of severe brain injury are hard to miss, it is less clear for more »

MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked. This more »

Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical more »

Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but more »

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Basilar artery migraine: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Basilar artery migraine

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Basilar artery migraine: Rare Types

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Basilar artery migraine

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Basilar artery migraine: Animations

Prognosis for Basilar artery migraine

Prognosis for Basilar artery migraine: The prognosis is generally good. The disorder decreases in frequency as patients enter 20s and 30s.

Research about Basilar artery migraine

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Basilar artery migraine: Broader Related Topics

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Article Excerpts about Basilar artery migraine

Basilar artery migraine involves a disturbance of a major brain artery at the base of the brain. Preheadache symptoms include vertigo, double vision, and poor muscular coordination. This type of migraine occurs primarily in adolescent and young adult women and is often associated with the menstrual cycle. (Source: excerpt from Headache -- Hope Through Research: NINDS)


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