• Medical

What Is a Complex Migraine?

12.21.21

BY: DR. KYON HOOD, MD

A migraine is a severe headache that can cause uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, vomiting, weakness, and fatigue. If you haven't experienced one of these headaches, we hope you never do – they can last for anywhere between a few hours and a few days, and the pain they cause can make you miserable.

What Is a Migraine?

A migraine is a severe headache that can cause uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, vomiting, weakness, and fatigue. If you haven't experienced one of these headaches, we hope you never do – they can last for anywhere between a few hours and a few days, and the pain they cause can make you miserable.

The symptoms of a standard migraine go through four stages – the prodrome stage, aura stage, attack stage, and postdrome stage. However, not all migraine sufferers will experience all of these stages.

Let's briefly explore the symptoms of a migraine in the order that they typically progress.

Prodrome

This stage of the development of a migraine is marked by symptoms that might seem unrelated to the headache itself.

However, frequent migraine sufferers will start to interpret these symptoms as telltale signs that a severe headache is coming:

  • A stiff neck
  • Changes to your mood
  • Needing to urinate more often, but trouble with bowel movements
  • Cravings for specific foods
  • Yawning more often

Aura

The aura stage typically happens during a migraine, but for some sufferers it can come before the headache itself.

Aura symptoms include:

  • Double vision
  • Seeing bright spots or out-of-place colors
  • Flashes of light
  • “Pins and needles" sensation on one side of your body
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body as well as in the face

Attack

The attack stage is the migraine itself, which can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Symptoms of migraine headaches include:

  • Oftentimes, an intense throbbing pain that can come in waves
  • Increased sensitivity to certain sensory triggers, such as light and sound
  • Nausea, vertigo, and vomiting
  • In more extreme cases, loss of consciousness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Post-Drome

In the final stage of a migraine, the pain and other symptoms finally start to wear off. However, you may find yourself dealing with some confusion and exhaustion in the aftermath of this type of headache. For some, the postdrome stage is marked by emotional issues like anxiety and depression.

What Makes a Headache a “Complex” Migraine?

A complex migraine is one of the most severe headaches you can experience.

This type of migraine is usually referred to by doctors as one of the following:

  • An atypical migraine
  • A sporadic hemiplegic migraine
  • Hemiplegia

The symptoms of a complex migraine include an aura that causes stroke-like symptoms. These symptoms can include confusion, changes to your vision, blind spots, and trouble thinking.

What Causes Complex Migraines?

There are several factors that can increase your risk of dealing with complex migraines. In diagnosis of an episodic primary headache disorder, your doctor may ask you about any of the following:

Sleep Habits

Sleeping too much – or too little can increase your risk of suffering from migraines. In some cases, poor sleep quality can be a cause, too – sleeping enough, but not getting enough deep, restful sleep can lead to increased risk of complex migraines.

Stress

Another major contributing factor for complex migraines is stress. High stress is one of the most common triggers for migraines, as well as milder headaches. In some cases, stress put on your body through physical activity can increase the risk of a migraine, but stressful life circumstances are a more common trigger.

Diet and Exercise

For some people, certain foods can be triggers for complex migraines. Some of the most common migraine triggers are:

  • Dairy products, especially yogurt and kefir
  • Nightshade vegetables (eggplant)
  • Fruits
  • Baked goods made with yeast
  • Certain food additives like aspartame, MSG, and nitrates
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

For many migraine sufferers, monitoring caffeine intake is a helpful lifestyle change that can have a positive impact on symptoms. However, cutting out caffeine all at once can lead to more headaches in some cases, a part of caffeine withdrawal.

Genes

In addition to these factors, hemiplegic migraines can also be caused by three specific genes: ATP1A2, CACNA1A, and SCN1A. These genes play key roles in the functioning of nerve cells within your brain.

If complex migraines run in your family, there's a high chance that you're suffering from what's known as a familial hemiplegic migraine – these migraines are passed down from your parents.

How Long Does a Complex Migraine Last?

The aura caused by a complex migraine is the most painful stage in the headache, and this period typically lasts about an hour. However, the lingering effects of a complex migraine can affect you for up to a week.

Complex migraine symptoms typically last longer when you don't take action and seek treatment.

How Can I Manage My Complex Migraine?

While complex migraines can be incredibly painful, there are several treatment options that can help you get the relief that you need.

NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, are medications that work to soothe swelling in the body and relieve pain, and are often recommended to migraine sufferers. These medications include aspirin, ibuprofen (Aleve), ketorolac (Toradol), and naproxen (Naprosyn).

Preventative Care

One treatment strategy that some doctors recommend for migraine sufferers is preventative medication, known as prophylactic medication.

If you frequently suffer from complex migraines, your doctor may recommend that you take any of the following:

  • Anti-seizure medications, including Topamax, Qudexy XR, and others, are sometimes recommended to migraine sufferers.
  • CGRP monoclonal antibodies are another treatment option for migraines. These medications are designed specifically for migraines.
  • Blood pressure medications. Beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, meds that are normally used to treat blood pressure problems, can sometimes be helpful for treating severe migraines.

IV Therapy

When you're suffering from a migraine and need relief as fast as possible, at-home IV therapy is one of the best sources of auxiliary support for your migraine treatments.

IV bags for migraines are typically formulated with a combination of nutrients, medications, and a hydrating solution to help ease your pain and discomfort and get you feeling better as fast as possible.

Our wellness IV therapy contains a hydrating solution to help replenish your body's fluids, and you can add in any combination of vitamins, minerals, and prescription medication ingredients you want, including anti-inflammatory medications like Toradol, anti-nausea medications like Zofran, vitamins, minerals, and more.

Conclusion

Complex migraines generally refer to migraines that include aura, which can consist of stroke-like symptoms such as confusion, changes to vision, and trouble thinking. Sleep habits, stress, and even genetics can all contribute to your chances of experiencing a complex migraine. Thankfully, there are ways to manage it, including NSAIDs, preventative care, and our very own wellness IV therapies here at ivee.

When you book an at-home IV therapy session with ivee, one of our experienced Registered Nurses will head straight to your location within two hours, and get your treatment set up and administered.

From there, all you have to do is sit back and relax while your Registered Nurse gets you on the road to migraine recovery right in the comfort of your own home, office, or even your hotel room.

Explore all of ivee’s wellness services here.

Sources:

Migraine - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) | Cleveland Clinic

CGRP monoclonal antibody for preventive treatment of chronic migraine: An update of meta‐analysis | NCBI

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