3 million in the US have a history of epilepsy. Few link migraines and epilepsy, but the connections are clear. Because of this, what helps migraines may help with seizures.
I can honestly say that few doctors link these two conditions together, but it is clear that migraines share very similar characteristics to seizures. A few very astute researchers have coined the term “migralepsy,” but this is usually to describe a condition where a migraine headache is followed by seizure within a specified period of time.
I would suggest, however, that this term can help people understand that what happens in the brain in both conditions is the same. What similarities do these share? Just to name a few…
- Both seizures and migraine headaches induce a “post-ictal state” that results from the beating the brain just took.
- Both conditions have been linked to problems in the part of the cell called the mitochondria not working optimally.
- Anti-seizure medications like Topamax and Depakote have been used increasingly for migraines.
So what about headaches that are present in epileptics? These are actually very common, although not all would be classified as a migraine. Many times the headache may be part of the post-ictal period–the time after a seizure when there has been so much activity in the brain that the protective mechanisms in place to deal with oxidative stress are overwhelmed.
This particular study looks at the presence of both a migraine headache and seizures in epileptic children and found that the presence of migraines were much higher (25% vs as low as 3%) in these children than in children who did not have seizures.
The authors then mistakenly conclude that “It is imperative to address comorbid migraine in treating children with epilepsy.” This means that medication should be considered to address the migraine as a separate condition.
However, I contend that it is not. These are multiple manifestations of the same problem. Much like depression and epilepsy being closely linked, these conditions develop as a result of the brain not being able to produce the energy it needs to function properly.
The best approach to migraines, epilepsy and depression is to focus on healing the brain. Merely controlling the symptoms is NOT good enough.
So what positive lifestyle changes have you made to improve your migraine headaches or seizures?