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Basilar Artery Migraines

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A basilar artery migraine is a type of migraine that affects the brainstem. A major artery in the brainstem contracts, causing reduced blood supply to parts of the brain and resulting in this unusual type of migraine. It affects one in 400 migraine sufferers.


Symptoms of basilar artery migraine include:

• Nausea and vomiting
• Photosensitivity
• Severe throbbing pain in the head
• Dizziness or double vision
• Temporary blindness or hearing loss
• Slurred speech
• Confusion
• Loss of consciousness

You need to have at least two symptoms to be diagnosed with basilar artery migraine, but please see your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms as they may be signs of a more serious medical problem.

Your doctor may order an MRI or CT scan or a lumbar puncture to rule out any other medical conditions.


Treatment of this type of migraine is usually with calcium channel blockers, a type of drug that relaxes blood vessels. This can be given as a prevention and a treatment.

Migraines can sometimes be prevented by getting more sleep, not skipping meals, avoiding drugs, alcohol and caffeine and keeping a food diary. This is because sleep and food deprivation are known to trigger migraines, as are certain medications, coffee and wine.

A food diary can help establish if there are any common patterns in your migraines that are related to diet. Chocolate, dairy and oranges are common culprits.

Alternative Treatments

Self-hypnosis has been found to help basilar artery migraines by controlling blood vessel swelling. Biofeedback may also help. This is where a person learns about their own responses and stress patterns and can then identify when illnesses occur as a result of that stress. They then learn to modify their behavior to prevent an attack.

Other treatments such as peppermint tea (or oil) or feverfew tablets have been shown to relieve migraines.


Basilar artery migraines: Causes, symptoms, tests and treatments, WebMD. Web. 2 November 2011.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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