The link between migraines and epilepsy has been the focus of many scientific studies for years. Migralepsy– epileptic seizures triggered by migraines with aura– is a term that is still under much debate, as scientists are hesitant to confirm any migraine-epilepsy relationship beyond mere correlation.
Migraines & epilepsy- the diabolical duo
Migraines and epilepsy share many common traits- they are both chronic neurological disorders that are triggered by various external and internal stimuli. Both epileptic and migraine attacks result in excruciating headaches, stomach cramps, vomiting, and depression.
Migraines and epilepsy are also comorbid conditions. According to statistical data, people who have migraines with aura are more likely to suffer from epilepsy than patients of migraines without aura or other chronic headaches. Likewise, epilepsy patients have a high ratio of migraine headache incidence, more so than non-epileptics.
If you suffer from migraines, then you are likely to have epileptic seizures, as well, and vice versa.
Are Migraines linked with Epileptic Seizures? It’s Genetics
Is migralepsy a real word?
The term migralepsy was coined by Dr. Douglas Davidson, but referred to previously in a scientific study focusing on migraine and epilepsy symptoms that occur together in a seizure:
“…the migraine-like symptoms appear first−the characteristics of ophthalmic migraine with perhaps nausea and vomiting, followed by symptoms−characteristic of epilepsy, impairment or loss of consciousness and involuntary muscle movement.”
However, given the rarity of migraine-induced seizures, as defined by the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD), combined with the burden of causation, some health professionals are tentative to confirm migralepsy as a separate condition which combines migraines and epilepsy together.
Antiepileptic drugs for migraines
It’s no surprise, given the strong correlation between migraines and epilepsy, that many headache specialists, along with the FDA, endorse the use of anti-epileptic drugs such as Topamax and Valproate as a migraine prophylaxis (preventative treatment) for chronic migraine with aura patients.
Side effects of long-term Topamax medication may include short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, “brain fog,” and dizziness. Also, certain drug interactions while using Topamax or other anticonvulsant drugs are to be considered before beginning a new migraine treatment.
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