Know Your Pain

Know about Common Migraine Variants Here

"Migraine variant" is not a term used by the International Headache Society to classify headaches. Rather, it describes migraines which have symptoms not typical of regular migraines like head pain. Migraine variants could have symptoms like extended auras, numbness in senses, difficulties while speaking, movement difficulties, pains in other parts of the body like abdomen, etc. Headache may or may not be present.

These are some of the common migraine variants:

Familial Hemiplegic Migraine (FHM)
FHM mostly causes severe headache in one spot together with nausea, vomiting and increased light and sound sensitivity. It is hereditary and can begin in the early teens. Stress, trauma or some foodstuffs can trigger FHM. Auras, blind spots, zigzag lines, flashes, or double vision are common and could last for an hour. There could also be numbing of one side of the body.

Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC)
AHC paralyses one portion of the body. The severity could range from a little numbness to complete impairment of movements. The duration can be as little as a few minutes or as much as a few days. Symptoms usually lessen after a good sleep. The side of the body affected could change over alternately.

Basilar Migraine (BM)
Headache is severe at the back of the head. Vertigo (whirling sensations causing loss of balance) and problems in walking and vision are common. There is increased sensitivity to light and sound. Symptoms of vertigo (like dizziness) can be severe.

Ophthalmoplegic Migraine (OM)
This is a very rare condition that affects children more than adults. Even infants can be affected by OM. The pupils of the eye dilate and movement of the eye gets difficult. The upper eyelid droops. Unilateral headache is also present and the side can alternate. Bilateral headache is less common. The pain can last from a few hours to a few days.

Retinal Migraine
Retinal migraine is rare in childhood and often affects young adults. There is temporary loss in vision and usually begins with one eye. The attack is only for a few seconds up to a minute accompanied by headache. Headache could be delayed by up to one hour. Nausea and increased sensitivity to light and sound are some other symptoms.

Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo
This is characterized by dizziness, spinning sensations, loss of balance, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms last for less than a minute but can recur frequently. Benign paroxysmal vertigo is caused by problems in the inner ear. It occurs in older people (above 60).

Abdominal migraine
Abdominal migraine is characterized by pain in the abdomen and occurs mostly in children.