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HeadWay Issue #215 - Migraine Head: Symptoms Not Often Mentioned
September 21, 2022

In this issue:

Migraine Head: Symptoms Not Often Mentioned

New at Headache and Migraine News

Say what?! Autonomic Nervous System

Migraine Head: Symptoms Not Often Mentioned

Does your voice change during a migraine attack? There's a good chance that no one has asked you that before.

There are certain symptoms that don't get a lot of press - sometimes because they're not that common. Or sometimes because we don't connect them with our migraine attacks.

A study published this year in The Journal of Headache and Pain highlighted a group of symptoms known as "cranial autonomic symptoms". Cranial being basically in your head (not imaginary, but literally head-related), and autonomic, relating to the autonomic nervous system.

Some Cranial Autonomic Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms that were reported in this study:
  • Congestion ("stuffy nose") and/or "runny nose"
  • Watery eyes
  • Fullness in the ear ("stuffy ear")
  • Red and/or puffy eyes
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Pallor (paleness) or flushing
  • Eye grittiness
Looking at this list, it's no wonder that migraine is often confused with some kind of sinus infection or allergy.

But there were also some less-common symptoms reported...

Less Common Cranial Autonomic Symptoms

  • Eye twitching
  • Facial swelling
  • Drooling
  • Throat Swelling
  • Voice Change
  • Taste change
Researchers noted that the voice changes often accompanied throat swelling.

Interesting Facts...

If you're experiencing some of theses symptoms, even some of the more unusual ones, you're certainly not alone. But one thing that researchers noticed was that symptoms did seem to become worse as migraine became more chronic.

In other words, the more often patients suffered from migraine attacks, the more likely they were to experience these kinds of symptoms.

One more interesting note. Many of us have the intuitive idea that, for example, our eyes are "watering from the pain". That may be the case. But researchers noted that these symptoms can be present in a migraine attack that is painless ("silent migraine", or aura without headache). Pain may make symptoms worse, but it's not necessarily the source of these symptoms.

This and other studies are important to make us aware of our own symptoms, so that we can get a better diagnosis and treatment. Countless people have been misdiagnosed for years and so have missed out on migraine treatments that could have made a difference.

You can read the full study here: Cranial autonomic symptoms: prevalence, phenotype and laterality in migraine and two potentially new symptoms

New at Headache and Migraine News

A few recent posts you might have missed:

Say what?! Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system is involved in what we might call "automatic" functions of your body - how your heart beats, for example. The system is divided into sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric.

Researchers in the study above discuss whether various symptoms may be sympathetic or parasympathetic. Each system has a different location and different functions in the body.

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