What causes extreme numbness and migraines

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

23.02.2011

Migraines: Think about a stroke if you have unusual and persistent seizures

Not only do migraineurs suffer from the recurring headache attacks and nausea, but some of them are also at increased risk of stroke.

Not only do migraineurs suffer from the recurring headache attacks and nausea, but some of them are also at increased risk of stroke. The risk is slightly higher, especially in migraineurs with aura. If other risk factors, such as nicotine consumption or, in women, the use of estrogen-based contraceptives, are added, these further increase the risk of stroke. The symptoms of a migraine with aura may be similar to those of a stroke. "If those affected notice unfamiliar neurological symptoms with an aura or if aura symptoms such as sensory, visual or speech disorders suddenly turn into headaches and facial pain, a stroke should definitely be considered," says Prof. Martin Dichgans from the German Society for Neurology (DGN) in Berlin. "Even if the headache does not subside after taking medication and symptoms such as paralysis, articulation disorders or visual disturbances persist longer than usual, you should be examined quickly in a neurological station - preferably in a stroke unit - to be on the safe side." High blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high blood lipid levels, obesity and sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of stroke.

An aura refers to neurological symptoms that typically precede the actual migraine pain for around 30 minutes. They are characterized by a gradual increase and a slow decrease and usually resolve completely - usually within an hour. The most common are visual disturbances that occur on one side on the left or right in the field of vision. Auras in the form of sensory disturbances on the arms or legs are somewhat rarer. "Typical for a stroke are symptoms that suddenly set in, such as numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body, a sudden speech disorder, as well as sudden dizziness or loss of balance occasionally in combination with headaches", adds the expert from the University of Munich Hospital.

So far, migraine auras can neither be influenced by drugs nor by a certain behavior, if they occur acutely. Painkillers and special migraine medications - such as triptans - cannot shorten an aura. They should not be used until the aura has subsided. “The main focus of treatment should be on the prevention of attacks - especially in patients with frequent migraines that occur at least once a month. This includes, for example, maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle, a balanced diet and the use of relaxation methods and acupuncture, ”adds Prof. Dichgans. “It is not known whether prophylaxis and optimal acute treatment of migraine attacks can reduce the risk of stroke. Migraine patients should not use estrogen-based contraceptives or smoke - especially if they suffer from migraines with aura. "

Migraines are one of the most common neurological diseases. About 12 to 14% of all women and 6 to 8% of all men in Germany suffer from it. Most women suffer their first migraine attack between the ages of 12 and 16 and men between the ages of 16 and 20.

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