Back to Back Issues Page
HeadWay, Issue #103 -- Migraine and Epilepsy: Partners in Crime?
January 21, 2013

*Please note: URLs may wrap onto the next line. To visit the website, cut and paste the entire URL into your address bar on your browser*

In this month's issue:

Migraine and Epilepsy: Partners in Crime?

Recent articles not to miss...

Say what?!  Migralepsy

Migraine and Epilepsy: Partners in Crime?

Yes, they are.  But keep reading!  We're learning more about what that link actually is.

Here are some links we've known about for a long time:
  • Many types of migraine are mistaken for epilepsy because of similar symptoms.  Common examples are hemiplegic migraine and basilar type migraine.
  • People with epilepsy often experience "auras" before a seizure, similar to the migraine aura some migraine patients experience.
  • Many medications for epilepsy also treat migraine - for example, valproic acid (Depakote) and topiramate (Topamax).
  • Epilepsy and migraine are comorbid meaning that they often go together.  For example, migraineurs are at least twice as likely to have epilepsy as the general population, and at least one study has suggested that children with migraine are almost four times more likely to develop epilepsy later in life.
A new study has found a genetic link between migraine and epilepsy.  The study from Columbia University in New York discovered that there is a "genetic basis" for migraine and epilepsy.  In practical terms?  If you have close relatives with epilepsy, your risk of migraine is higher.

In fact, people with three or more close relatives with a seizure disorder were more than twice as likely to have migraine.

These findings will not only help us understand migraine and epilepsy better, they could help doctors diagnose faster and with more accuracy.

Sadly, one more link between migraine and epilepsy was confirmed in a study published last week.

Patients with migraine and patients with epilepsy are both stigmatized.

The lead researcher, Dr. William B. Young, explains stigma this way: "When people treat my patients as if they are to blame because they have a severe, debilitating disease, they are contributing to the problem and making life harder for them."

Patients with chronic migraine tended to be stigmatized the most, simply because they were the most disabled.  However, adjusting for disability, the stigma for chronic migraine and epilepsy was about the same.  Stigma for those with episodic migraine was still there, though less.

Read more:  Study Suggests Genetic Link Between Epilepsy, Migraine and The Stigma of Migraine

Also read: Stopping Headaches after Seizure

Recent articles not to miss...

Here are a few posts from Headache and Migraine News that you might find useful:

Say what?!  Migralepsy

Migralepsy is a term referring to extremely rare cases when seizures occur between a migraine aura and migraine headache.  It should not be confused with headache coming from a seizure, or auras that occur before a seizure.  However, because the relationship is complex between migraine and epilepsy (to say the least), it can be a challenge to get a proper diagnosis.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
Back to Back Issues Page