Expert Author Duncan Smith

There are several different types of migraines people suffer from, including both the classic and common migraine. Of these different types of migraines there is an especially rare type known as the hemiplegic migraine.

This type of migraine has very specific symptoms which include:

  • A sudden attack which occurs on one side of the body which may or may not include paralysis. It typically happens during the aura period of the migraine attack.
  • The weakness experienced often involves the face, arm and leg of the person suffering the migraine.
  • If the right side of the body is affected the speech of the person suffering the migraine may become slurred or impaired.
  • It can often be triggered by a mild head trauma.
  • The paralysis is followed by the migraine headache.
  • It may also include symptoms like dizziness, vertigo, double vision, partial vision as well as difficulty with balance.
Hemiplegic migraines are mainly genetic and there will normally be at least one direct family member who also suffers from them. Given that many of these migraines are a result of minor trauma to the head people likely to suffer from this type of migraine should be advised against engaging in contact sports. In families where this condition is common onset often happens in childhood. The no contact sports rule is therefore especially important for children in these families.

Research has discovered several specific genetic markers for the hemiplegic migraine. Screening is not a prerequisite for identifying the problem but is available on request. Of all the types of migraines this one is particularly frightening as its symptoms very closely mirror a stroke. The other problem is these migraines do not respond well to most normal migraine medications. They often have to be treated as if the sufferer has epilepsy which necessitates more dangerous medications than normal.

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