Vestibular migraine is a condition of dizziness related to altering blood supply to and around the ear. Like a normal migraine, vestibular migraine is often genetic. Vestibular migraine can be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, and hormone changes, as well as dietary triggers like coffee, MSG, chocolate, red wine, and strong cheese.
The symptoms of vestibular migraine can (but not always) include: one-sided throbbing headache, visual aura, light (photophobia) and sound sensitivity (phonophobia). However, vestibular migraine includes vertigo or dizziness, at least 50% of the time. Patients with vestibular migraine can also experience imbalance, tinnitus, and hearing loss in some cases.
Diagnosis can be complicated, as test results are usually “normal” between episodes, and even soon after an episode, clinical test results are often not specific. Clinical practice guidelines, which are based on a thorough case history, and specific testing for confirmation, are used by healthcare professionals to identify the problem.
Treatment usually includes a combination of medication from your ENT specialist or neurologist, and supportive counselling from your audiologist, who also knows how to guide your dietary choices to help you to avoid attacks. Occasionally, a few vestibular rehabilitation techniques can be used to help stabilise you during an attack. While symptoms are unpleasant during an incident, vestibular migraine usually does not leave a trace afterwards, nor any permanent damage. It may be important to manage anxiety, which your audiologist can assist you with.