Altea Physiotherapy + Wellness Blog

Dizzy Migraine

Dizzy Migraines, Altea Physiotherapy Prince George BC

Written by Carly

Carly Chuby is the vestibular therapist at Altea Physiotherapy and Wellness. She has been a certified vestibular therapist since 2017.

March 2, 2022

“Dizzy Migraine”

Migraines are extremely debilitating and often strike people (mostly women) between ages 20-40, with a bit older age range for men. Vestibular migraine or dizzy migraine, is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent vestibular disorders. Almost half of all migraine patients have some sort of vestibular symptoms including imbalance and/or dizziness at some point.

It is estimated about 50% of vestibular migraineurs go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed!

But how do I know if I have a migraine or just a headache?

The main differences between a migraine and a headache include the following:

1. Migraine head pain usually starts on one side of your head.
2. Migraine is severe and pulsating in nature.
3. Migraines interfere with your daily activities and you usually need to go in a dark and quiet room to rest.
4. Light and sound sensitivity is usually present.
5. Nausea and/or vomiting can also occur.


The patients I see with vestibular migraine will typically complain of the following all or most of the time:

  • Feel light-headed, have brain fog, or report just feeling dumb!
  • Many people say they feel low grade nausea most of the time
  • Many people say they feel like they are on a boat or like they are moving
  • Certain movements, like rolling in bed or laying down quickly, cause a lot of dizziness
  • They do not like moving their head quickly and repetitively
  • They get motion sick more easily
  • They do not like visually rich environments (watching an escalator move or being in a busy shopping mall)


Some of the time they will complain of:

  • “episodes” that last anywhere from minutes to hours where all or some of their everyday symptoms are worse
  • Some people experience vertigo (false sense of spinning) during these “episodes”

**You DO NOT have to be experiencing migraines to be diagnosed with vestibular migraine. You simply need to have a history of getting migraines at some point in your life.**

How is vestibular migraine treated?

It is not entirely clear what causes BPPV, but there have been links made with head trauma, migraine, inner ear infections or disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, prolonged intubation, and people who ALWAYS sleep on one side.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis of BPPV is made using VNG or infrared goggles which allows the therapist to see your eye movements in a zero-light environment. They will bring you into certain positions, which will trigger an episode. During the episode nystagmus (very specific eye movements) will occur and inform the therapist that you have BPPV and which canal it is in.

How is it treated?

Treatment includes the following:

  • Figuring out what is triggering the episodes and avoiding those triggers (certain foods, stress, lack of sleep, lack of water, barometric pressure changes, and hormonal changes).
  • Your doctor prescribing certain types of medication to help prevent the episodes.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation to help reduce your symptoms.

Vestibular migraine can be difficult to recognize and that is why it is so important to get a thorough examination by a therapist. Treatment and recovery are possible and we are here to guide you through this process. You can give us a call, book online, or email us if you think you may be suffering from vestibular migraine.

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