A migraine and a stroke share certain symptoms to the point that a person having a migraine headache may fear that they are having a stroke. A migraine is a headache that is caused by spasms in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. A stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain because of a blocked blood vessel or a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain that is also called a brain bleed.
Migraines differ from strokes because they do not cause permanent damage to the brain. Strokes will cause brain damage and even death if left untreated. Certain types of strokes such as hemorrhagic strokes will be unable to treat and permanent brain cell death will occur.
Some migraine suffers will experience what is known as a migraine aura. This aura consists of visual disturbances. Some of these disturbances are the same visual disturbances that a stroke victim will suffer from. A migraine can produce flashing lights in your field of vision. It can also produce a partial loss of vision in one eye or zigzagging lines in your field of vision.
The similarities between migraine symptoms and stroke symptoms do not end with visual changes. A migraine can produce numbness and tingling of the face and sometimes it will extend down one side of the body. A migraine can also produce changes in speech such as slurring. Migraines have the capability to produce muscle weakness on one side of the body. These symptoms are very similar to stroke symptoms.
Migraine stroke symptoms will disappear in a few hours, while stroke symptoms will only get worse as time goes by. There is a type of stroke that can mimic migraine symptoms. It is called a transient ischemia attack or TIA for short.
Symptoms of a TIA are the same as a migraine or a stroke. The victim may experience visual, speech and coordination disturbances. But with a TIA, these symptoms will disappear usually within twenty four hours. TIA symptoms should be taken very seriously and immediate medical attention should be pursued. A TIA is a sign that the victim is at a very high risk for a major stroke later on.
There are ways to tell the differences between migraine symptoms and TIA symptoms. The first way to tell the difference is visual disturbances. In a TIA, the only visual disturbance is vision loss. When a migraine happens, the victim may experience vision loss, zigzagging lines or flashing lights.
It is important to remember that with a TIA, the symptoms come on very suddenly. But with a migraine, the symptoms appear gradually.
A migraine will usually first occur when a person is younger. But a TIA commonly occurs only in older people.
It is critical that you seek treatment at the first sign of a TIA or stroke. If you are not sure if the symptoms you are experiencing are the result of a migraine or something more ominous, go to your nearest emergency room right away.