Is this a silent migraine?

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I have had migraines since I was about 10. I'm now 42. They would always start with flashing vision, parts of vision vanishing. I would take two paracetomal and then take a nap for an hour or two. When I would wake up the flashing would be gone but I'd have a headache on one side of my head. I wouldn't say it was super painful but it was not the nicest feeling in the world. By the next day it would mainly be gone apart from a pressure where the migraine was when I would cough or sneeze.

For the past month I've been having some weird episodes. It started as a normal migraine but has since turned into these weird episodes. The doctors think it is anxiety/panic attacks but to me it feels like a migraine but it affects me differently. I started having these episodes maybe two or three times a day but now it is down to about one a day.

It starts out where I will feel a bit nervous and then it gradually grows in to what feels like a throbbing, pulsating heart. It builds up gradually like a "regular" migraine does. Then my right ear begins to buzz/ring really loudly (I have tinnitus which I normally don't notice during the day) and my side of my head begins to pulsate as well in the spot where I had my last "real" migraine around the 12th of December. . It isn't painful but it is a constant numb throbbing that also continues to grow and grow. Sometimes the tip of my nose will go numb as will my upper lip. Sometimes I also get a bit of tingly feeling in my fingers and once or twice I felt a bit faint. The whole episode can last from anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. Once it reaches its peak it slowly fades, my heart stops pulsating, the nervousness fades and I'm left with a still buzzing ear and sort of a tingly feeling on the side of my head and I feel rather tired. This will gradually go away after a few hours.

It tends to come on just before I eat or after I eat my evening meal, although I had an episode today when I wasn’t doing anything major in particular. I was having some swallowing problems before Christmas and I think this was due to a combination of a particular toothpaste that I was using - it was really drying my mouth out - and I think I also have a tense neck from working on the pc all day and the monitor is higher than it should be. I think looking up constantly has tightened up my muscles and that also made swallowing difficult. I was thinking it was either anxiety that was making swallowing difficult or swallowing that was making the "anxiety attacks" come on, but my swallowing has improved a bit as my mouth isn’t as dry anymore yet these weird attacks are still coming on so it could be something totally unrelated. I have had an ECG and thyroid and sugar tests done - all normal. Just waiting to get a monitor for my heart to check it is okay so they can rule out a heart problem. Nevertheless, does my "episode" sound like a silent migraine?

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  • Posted

    Hi there,

    I've just found your posting whilst trying to find migraine symptoms like mine.

    How are you getting on? Have you had your ECG test yet?

    Your tingling and numbness sound exactly like I used to get when I was either a passenger (front or rear) in a vehicle or in stressful situations like cinemas or school assemblies.

    From what I remember I was fine until I was horribly and violently travel sick on a school trip - and had to be treated by the only teacher I've ever had a crush on! For years after that I had frequent panic attacks, even when a passenger in my parents' own car. My fingertips and lips would start to tingle, then my toes. I was probably hyperventilating too. Eventually the tingling would be so bad and widespread that my hands would be almost immoveable, and my lips so numb I could barely speak. I would also feel horribly queazy and would silently rock backwards and forwards until the awful feelings finally subsided. Once that had happened I was fine for the rest of the journey, no matter how long

    Thankfully, I overcame these bad panic attacks over the years - but your symptoms sound very like mine used to be.

    My parents have always suffered migraines with the classic flashing lights and loss of vision and I started with them when I was 12.. I would know what was coming when I looked at something and realised the right half was missing. Then a small spot of wiggly, multi-coloured lines would appear in my central vision, eventually becoming an arc of shimmering wiggles which got bigger and bigger until it disappeared from the outside edge of vision. Only in recent years has this happened yet no headache has ensued. Once I even woke up to the aura.

    What I have noticed in recent years is that I get the headaches without the visual disturbance but I get a continuous sensation of being able to smell / taste burnt sugar! The first time it happened I was convinced somehting was on fire in the kitchen, so strong was the sensation! With these generally one-sided (usually right side where my close-up vision has deteriorated in the last 2 years) sharp headaches I also become very hot and flushed in the face - this is usually worse on the right cheek. They are often hormone-related headaches and symptoms and often last 2 or 3 days to some degree.

    I would love to know if anyone else ever has such symptoms with headaches. I want to know the burnt sugar thing is normal.

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  • Posted

    PS - I am now 49 and approaching menopause.
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  • Posted


    I am a 19 year old female. I actually found this in the same way - looking for symptoms similar to mine. This is interesting because after reading both posts, the thing we all have in common is this weird anxiety kind of feeling. This is what has confused me the most.

    I think I've been having this silent kind of migraine for the past two weeks. Though more recently it's been mixed with a proper migraine. What I've experienced basically is, I do get quite a bad headache or lingering migraine before my period usually, however this time, my period was quite late, and I sort of felt the PMS building. I noticed mood swings, kind of a general feeling of shitness, and stress, but not any particular stress. I just felt emotional and kind of burned out but I don't know for what reason. I started to have a migraine, so I thought okay my periods are coming. I had extreme breast tenderness following this for a prolonged time and well my libido went through the roof. So I sort of concluded this is some hormonal thing before my period.

    My period came and went but symptoms persisted. It wasn't exactly the pain that was noticable, it was blurry vision and this dizzyness I had. I would have a rush of energy and symptoms very similar to a panic attack, I would feel faint and dizzy and unable to see well. I would have the feeling that I need to lay down and stay in the dark (just the same as a regular migraine) but the pain wasn't exactly prominent, it was more lingering in one side. There was maybe once or twice where the pain was very prominent and those few times I took tablets, but afterwards I was still left with this lingering feeling.

    I thought it was perhaps anxiety (though I had no idea why) so I forced myself to continue travelling, going to uni etc, and it was so difficult. When I'd come home I'd just feel like collapsing, unbearably tired and sleepy and weak even though I had had a good sleep the night before.

    I honestly don't know why I was having these 'episodes'. The migraine here or there I had experienced before, would be completely pain related and would go after taking tablets and laying in the dark for a few hours. But this time they just kind of kept lingering in the background and felt really weird, affecting my vision even when no pain was there. Just feels like everything's weird when it comes. Very disorientating and I get a fast beating heart too.

    Since I have been through a period of panic attacks before I could handle this, and I thought okay - if it is anxiety I will just keep reminding myself etc. But this didn't help at all. And also the last time I had panic attacks - I would feel like I couldn't sleep at all and I had too much energy, not like I needed to sleep and faint and weak. You know? There was a very distinct difference in that.

    So I thought maybe it's not anxiety, maybe it's my head. I started to notice although the pain wasn't that big it was kind of always there so I thought maybe this is a really weird migraine. It got so bad that for 3 days in this 2 weeks I had to stay in complete darkness at home, laying, with strong pain killers which made me even more sleepy. And finally the vision slowly started to clear up again even though I was still sensitive to light, though it was a gradual and slow thing. Kind of like I had to be careful or I would just go back to square one and trigger the whole thing again.

    My mother got worried - I went to the hospital. They kept me there for a day doing tests. After checking my bloods and CT scan, things came back clear and they told me I seem to have an 'atypical migraine'.

    They didn't tell me why or anything though. I don't recall feeling stressed about anything, the only thing that was different was that my periods were coming when they started, and the only dietary change I could think of was that I also started eating a lot of cheese (when I had never prior to this). I know that's silly but these are the only changes I can think of. It's safe to say I'll be staying off the cheese to see how things go.

    I know migraines come and go on their own but the fact it's been lingering for 2 weeks is worrying to me. It is very debilitating and when the rush comes I feel that I can't do anything, and with the blurred and weird vision, I can barely walk and things too, otherwise I feel like vomiting.

    I don't know if anyone has experienced this, for this long. I just want it to go, you know? My ears are really sensitive to sound now too.

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  • Posted

    Hi I have similar symptons to you with the numbness in the nose and mouth, I went to a neurologist and he said that this type of migriane is called complicated  cronic migraine, he explained that the numbness comes from a blood vessel in your head closing temporarily and the headace is the blood vessel opening up again, I think the anxiety comes from the fear of not knowing whats happening to you..
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  • Posted

    . I would know what was coming when I looked at something and realised the right half was missing. Then a small spot of wiggly, multi-coloured lines would appear in my central vision, eventually becoming an arc of shimmering wiggles which got bigger and bigger until it disappeared from the outside edge of vision. Only in recent years has this happened yet no headache has ensued.

    That is exactly how some of my migraines happen.


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    • Posted

      I hAd the same thing happen around 6 months ago had a few normal headaches over a few days then the Saturday morning I got up had a sip of coke and a choc bar sat on sofa watching tele and flicking on my phone and noticed this Bloch of blur and like patterns flashing in left eye everywhere I looked. This pattern got bigger and brighter till my whole left eye vision had gone and then it got smaller and disappeared. Then for the next 3 days I had a migraine head ach lights hurt and felt sick etc. But I have no idea why I was not overly stressed and have never previously had a migraine like that before up untill then and I'm 25 was maybe a bit dehydrated and drunk  caffeine the day/ night before and maybe a bit tierd but still no idea why and I currently now am on medication for panic and anxiety attacks and worry about this happening again xx

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  • Posted

    Hi Kathryn.

    They are frightening aren't they.The first time it happened to me was about 9 years ago , went to the docs who reassured me not to worry as he suffered from them as well. They come in different forms as well . One time I got up early and it was dark outside, I switched on the kitchen light which were very bright, then went into the living room which was pitch black and was scared stiff with what I was seeing. Bright orange" fireflies"flitting all over the room very quickly. It sounds daft but the first thought that entered my head was fairies, like when tinker bell was flying around Peter Pan and leaving a trail of stardust behind her. Went to the eye specialist who gave me a good examination and found nothing wrong. That only happened once. I am sure that bright light or flickering light or reflections from car windows are the things that start these headaches off.


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  • Posted

    Sorry , meant to reply to Natalie not Kathryn.
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