Silent Migraines: Definition & Symptoms

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Silent migraines, also called acephalgic migraines or migraine without headaches, are the types of migraines that do not involve the typical head pain. Instead, people with silent migraines experience other symptoms such as aura (visual disturbances), dizziness, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Silent migraines can be difficult to diagnose because they don’t have the classic signs of a migraine headache. However, they can still be disruptive and cause significant discomfort. Headache pain from a migraine can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, but in a silent migraine, this pain is absent. The prodrome phase (symptoms that occur before the attack) can occur hours to as much as a day before the migraine attack. The aura phase of a migraine typically lasts 5 to 20 minutes, and very rarely over an hour. The postdrome may last up to a day.

Treatments for silent migraines are typically the same as for other types of migraines. If you think you may be having silent migraines, it’s important to talk to your doctor so you can get an accurate diagnosis and find the best treatment plan for you. There are several potential treatments for silent migraines, including lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications. In most cases, these treatments can help reduce the frequency and severity. While there is no cure for silent migraines, there are certain remedies that can help to ease the symptoms. For example, many people find relief by lying down in a dark room and resting. Others find that drinking lots of fluids helps to prevent dehydration, which can trigger a migraine attack.  Magnesium, for example, has been classified by the American Migraine Foundation as a supplement that is “probably effective” and generally considered safe for most people to use as a preventive treatment.

Symptoms of Silent Migraines

While the symptoms of a silent migraine can vary from person to person, there are some common ones that are associated with this type of migraine. These include:

  • Visual disturbances– this can include seeing flashes of light, temporary blindness, or other vision changes.
  • Sensitivity to light– people who experience a silent migraine may be especially sensitive to light and noise.
  • Numbness or tingling– some people may experience numbness or tingling in their extremities.
  • Weakness– another common symptom of a silent migraine is weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. This is typically temporary and should resolve itself once the migraine passes.
  • Sensitivity to smells
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Common prodrome symptoms like food cravings, irritability, fatigue, and neck stiffness.

If you believe you are experiencing a silent migraine, it is important to see a doctor so they can properly diagnose and treat your condition. While there is no cure for migraines, there are treatments that can help lessen the frequency and severity of attacks.

The Brain Center is here to support patients and their caregivers in their journey. Contact us to learn more from our Neurologists.