Some people can experience migraines lacking the actual head pain sensation, these are known as silent migraines. Other names for silent migraine include acephalgic migraine, amigranous migraine, migraine aura without headache and migraine equivalent. Migraine sufferers may experience only silent migraine attacks, while others may have a combination of silent migraines and typical migraines. Silent migraines are more common in people who suffered from migraine with aura when they were younger.
Even though silent migraines lack head pain, silent migraines result in symptoms that can be debilitating. Silent migraine is easily understood when looking at the phases of migraine. The typical phases of migraine include prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome. Silent migraines lack the head pain sensation in the headache phase.
Prodrome symptoms generally include changes in mood, depression, irritability and difficulty focusing for several hours to several days. The aura phase includes symptoms such as blurry vision, vision loss, seeing geometric patterns, flashing or shimmering lights, or blind spots in one or both eyes. Aura symptoms only occur in a third of migraine suffers and last anywhere between 5 – 60 minutes.
The headache phase of a migraine attack is characterized by headache pain that can last several hours to three days. In addition to head pain people also experience additional symptoms such as nausea, inability to sleep, anxiety, and sensitivity to sound, light and smell. Silent migraine suffers can experience all the associated symptoms of this phase but not the actual head pain. Postdrome also known as the “migraine hangover” includes symptoms such as fatigue, body aches, trouble concentrating, dizziness and sensitivity to light.
If you believe you have been experiencing silent migraines it is very important to see a medical professional like us at the Manhattan Center for Headache and Neurology. Ruling out stroke and other more serious disorders is crucial since the typical migraine head pain is not present. We also would be able to recommend appropriate and effective treatment options based on the type of migraine and symptoms you have been experiencing.
Caroline Pruski, NP