Brain dysfunction in migraine

Difficulty thinking and speaking is not unusual at the onset of a migraine attack. It is not always severe as with the reporter Serene Branson who jumbled words and appeared confused on camera. Many patients report that they have difficulty finding words, remembering well known facts, or unable to say what they want to say. This often happens at the beginning of a migraine attack, according to a study presented at the last scientific meeting of the American Headache Society. The doctors tested attention, processing speed, visual-motor reaction, and other brain functions and found that many patients had significantly lower scores at the onset of a migraine than between attacks. They also found that there was no correlation with the severity of pain – you can have severe cognitive dysfunction with a mild headache. Similarly, many patients get a very severe headache after a visual aura but others get a mild headache or no headache at all. There are no acute treatments that would stop an aura or the cognitive brain dysfunction once it starts. However, preventive treatments can be very effective. We always start with elimination of triggers, aerobic exercise, biofeedback, magnesium (sometimes intravenously) and CoQ10 supplements, and then Botox and preventive drugs. Some patients find that after the first Botox treatment they no longer develop a headache, but may still get an aura or have some other warning symptoms, including cognitive dysfunction. However, with repeated injections of Botox both headaches and other symptoms subside. This probably happens because with fewer headaches the brain becomes less irritable and stops generating auras and other neurological symptoms.

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