Migraine syndrome without headaches

Has your doctor diagnosed you with something called migraine syndrome without headaches?  Are you confused by the diagnosis, or wondering what it means?  Let's talk about what this diagnosis may mean to you.

Definitions

What exactly is "migraine syndrome" in the first place?  A sydrome indicates a bunch of symptoms that indicate the presence of an underlying problem.  The Online Medical Dictionary calls a syndrome A set of signs or a series of events occurring together that often point to a single disease or condition as the cause.

Since we don't fully understand the cause of migraine, we're looking at it from that perspective - there are a group of common symptoms that indicate to doctors that a patient has migraine.  Though the term "migraine syndrome" is not common, it's used by the Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society in their publication The International Classification of Headache Disorders (2003).

If your doctor says that you have migraine syndrome without headaches, she's probably drawing attention to the other symptoms of migraine.  That might include aura (perhaps visual symptoms like seeing flashing lights) or nausea.  These symptoms are often forgotten about because of the intense pain that goes along with migraine.

People sometimes think of migraine as just a bad headache, but it is possible to have migraine without headache.  Quite often those other symptoms can be just as debilitating as the headache itself (though certainly the headache is usually present and often blindingly painful!).

Migraine syndrome without headaches

What your doctor may call a migraine syndrome without headaches is now more commonly called migraine aura without headache.  This usually means that you get many of the symptoms that typically come before the headache itself, but you never actually get a headache.  Sometimes this can be just annoying, but other times it can cause serious problems in your life.

There is another common name for this - silent migraine.  Read this article by that title if you really want to understand migraine syndrome without headaches.  Read more about migraine symptoms in general here.