Many people believe that a migraine is just a severe headache, but it’s actually a neurological condition where a debilitating headache is just one of the symptoms. Nausea, vision changes, and an aversion to smells and sounds are all signs of a migraine in progress.

Beyond that, there are complex migraines, which have several different names and can mimic signs of a stroke. Now if you think you’re having a stroke, you should seek medical attention, but knowing the signs of a complex migraine can help you and loved ones make informed decisions. In fact, many people get checked out the first time they have a complex migraine because they believe they’re having a stroke.

Bannister Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing has a look at six signs of a complex migraine.

  1. Dizziness/Vertigo

Nausea is common for migraines, but a feeling of dizziness or vertigo is more than that and a sign of a vestibular migraine.

  1. Weakness on One Side of the Body

This is the symptom that many believe is a stroke. Fortunately, hemiplegic migraines are very rare, but they can persist for days or weeks with a feeling of one side of your body not working as well as the other.

  1. Uncoordinated Muscles

This condition, called ataxia, occurs when the body doesn’t do what you want it to do. It can be poor overall coordination, a tendency to stumble, having trouble swallowing, eating, and writing.

  1. Numbness and Tingling

A sign of a migraine with brainstem aura is a pins-and-needles feeling in your arm that travels up to your face.

  1. Mental Impairment

Anything from being confused to, in extreme cases, going unconscious, can happen in a hemiplegic migraine.

  1. Light and Sound Sensitivity

The one sign that sets strokes apart from complex migraines is having these symptoms occur with no other pain. If you’re having numbness and weakness symptoms but also having a sensitivity to light and sound, that’s the top sign that it’s one of these complex migraines and not a stroke, and your doctor should be able to help with a treatment plan to either prevent them or lessen the symptoms.

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