What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

Dizzy Dames

Singer Janet Jackson had to cancel some recent concerts due to a "rare form of migraine called vestibular migraine or migraine-associated vertigo," according to the statement her publicists have released.

Janet's manager, Kenneth Crear said, "She's feeling much better and is ready to hit the road again to finish the tour."

Hallucination of Movement

Vestibular migraine differs from other migraine headaches by dint of an episode of vertigo that occurs prior to and during a migraine. The word "vestibular" refers to the inner ear, which is responsible for balance. Vertigo is dizziness that is caused by the imagined sensation that there is movement where none exists—something like a hallucination. Vertigo may make you feel as though you are spinning, or have just stepped off a boat. Many vestibular migraine patients state that the vertigo is more disabling than the headache.

However, most migraine patients have some vertigo and this is not the only symptom that distinguishes a vestibular migraine from any other sort. Other symptoms are involved and include nausea, hearing loss, fainting, weakness in the extremities, and abnormal eye movements. It is easy to understand why Ms. Jackson had to cancel her concerts, if one imagines the pageantry associated with such entertainment such as flashing lights and loud percussion. Such goings-on would tend to exacerbate the symptoms of a vestibular migraine sufferer such as the famous performing artist.

Constant Imbalance

Vestibular migraine episodes can last from between a few minutes to many hours and in the chronic form there is a constant sense of being off balance. Some patients have been migraine sufferers for years before they show symptoms of vestibular migraine.

Vestibular migraine was once thought to be due to a loss of circulation at the back of the brain. Now, however, doctors think that the condition is due to a neurological abnormality in the functioning of the back of the brain.

There is no specific treatment for the condition. Standard treatment is the same as for other migraine types. None of these treatments seem to deal with the attendant dizziness of vestibular migraine. Vestibular migraines have the reputation of being more difficult to treat, too. It's a good thing then that vestibular migraines are rare, occurring in only one or two of every one thousand migraine patients.

Most vestibular migraine patients are diagnosed with the condition in their late teens or early 20's. If you are older and you experience vestibular migraine symptoms for the first time, you should be seen to rule out other concurrent conditions.