10 Rare and Extreme Types of Migraines You’ve Never Heard Of

Almost 14 percent of adults in the USA are affected by several types of Migraines i.e. severe headaches accompanied by vision disturbances, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Though it is rear, migraine can cause symptoms and complications in other body parts as well.

The migraine variants are designated a name, according to the body part that is affected. These variants are mostly rear in occurrence. It can be diagnosed by your doctor if you have the symptoms of any of the rare and extreme types of migraines.

Most typical migraines are distinguished by the fact that whether it’s accompanied by the aura or not. There are some rare migraines types which you should be aware of.

Hemiplegic migraines

Hemiplegic migraines affect a very small percentage i.e. 0.03 percent of people in the USA. It usually initiates during childhood.  People suffering from hemiplegic migraines may also experience some other symptoms such as, paralysis or weakness on either side of the body, vision and speech disturbances, and some other symptoms which might mimic a stroke. The paralytic condition is temporary, but it may last for few days depending on the severity.

Existing Hemiplegic migraines are distinguished into two types:

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  • Sporadic hemiplegic migraine (SHM): This type associated with hemiplegic migraines is not a genetic disorder. After a person has symptoms of a hemiplegic migraine on several occasions, both FHM and SHM are diagnosed. However, if that person doesn’t have any family member with hemiplegic migraines, it is believed that the person has SHM. Presence of the known genetic risk is the only difference.
  • Familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM): This variant is an inherited genetic migraine disorder which leads to hemiplegic migraines. Genetic testing is done to determine if a person has the gene mutations that may be associated with this variant. If any of the family members has FHM, the chances to have FHM are comparatively higher.

Ocular Migraine

This rare type of migraine is also referred to as a retinal migraine. It affects only about 1 in 200 migraine sufferers.  This type of migraine is noted for repeated vision disturbances which are similar to an aura including vision loss in just one eye. This vision loss may be partial or complete which lasts for less than an hour. After these visual disturbances vanish, you are left with a dull ache behind the eye that lost vision. In some cases, the pain may be felt by the entire head. 

An ophthalmic migraine

It is also sometimes referred as ocular or retinal migraines. An ophthalmic migraine is a rare variant of a migraine. This variant is characterized by repeated instances of vision disturbances, such as blind spots or blindness on one side of the visual field. These disturbances may last for a minute or an hour and usually occur before a migraine begins.

An ophthalmoplegic migraine

This is a rear variant of a migraine which is common in children and young adults. The initial symptoms of this variant are intense pain behind the eye, double vision or paralysis of the eye muscles leading to the droopy eyelid. Vomiting and seizures may also be experienced by the Patients during this type of a migraine.

Your doctor might check for an aneurysm which is a localized bulge in the blood vessel wall in the brain, to check if it may contribute to the symptoms.

This variant is considered as an inflammation of the nerve and so a type of neuritis. This makes it suspect as even being a true migraine or not. The pain often lasts for an extended duration, up to a month sometimes. Therefore, a complete physical exam is required for the elimination of the possibility of the symptoms being caused by something more serious.

Menstrual Migraine

As suggested by the name, this variant is related to the menstrual cycle of a woman and the hormone fluctuation that preceded it. The symptoms can flare up some day prior to their period in more than half of the women who reported a migraine. Migraines which are more severe and last longer are due to menstruation or even at other times of the month.

Basilar migraine

It is typically referred as Bickerstaff syndrome or basilar artery migraine which may lead to dizziness and vertigo prior to a headache. It is a very rare, but potentially very dangerous variant of a migraine. Some other effects of this migraine variant may also be tinnitus, partial vision loss, slurred speech, vertigo, numbness (on one or both sides of the body), and even loss of consciousness prior to a headache. In some conditions, it also mimics the stroke.

This migraine variant mostly occurs in adolescent girls as well as young women, but it was later acknowledged to occur in both sexes and all ages. So it was believed by some researchers that it’s likely related to the hormonal changes that occur at adolescent.

Abdominal migraine

An abdominal migraine mostly affects children, especially those having a family history of migraines. It’s symptoms generally lasts from one to 72 hours. Nausea, vomiting, and flushing are some of the noted symptoms. Some of the symptoms included are attention deficit problems, clumsiness, or delayed development. These symptoms are noticed in children who have been struggling with this variant of a migraine for a longer period of time.

Chronic Migraine

Sometimes it is also called as transformed migraine. It is referred to as a Chronic migraine by those experiencing it’s repeated and ongoing episodes. People with this variant experiences headaches on at least half of the days in a month. Whereas many will have migraines daily or almost daily. It typically initiates in the late teens or early twenties, and it’s frequency increase over time.

In some conditions, these patients are overmedicated with over-the-counter and prescription drugs. These can actually contribute to worsening the situation.

Vertebrobasilar Migraine

Vertebrobasilar or a vertiginous migraine may be distinguished by migraines preceded by vertigo or dizziness. This is a common complaint by many people suffering from a migraine.  The frequent and recurring episodes of vertigo may be due to any problem in the lower part of the brain.

Status Migrainosus

This is one of the rarest and most severe migraine variants which may last for more than 72 hours that the affected person must be hospitalized. Most complications associated with this variant arise due to the prolonged vomiting and nausea. Due to which the person becomes dehydrated, and will require intravenous treatment to remain hydrated.

Preventing Migraines

Prevention is better than cure, and so is the case with Migraine. It is always better as compared to the treatment of any of the types of migraines. One of the best ways to do this is maintaining a journal of food and activity to track the possible triggers. This is also helpful in pattern identification that can be used to avoid the migraine triggers.

Common migraine triggers include:


  • Dehydration
  • Lack of sleep
  • High altitude
  • Intense exercise
  • Emotional distress
  • High blood pressure
  • Flickering or bright lights
  • Strong odors, cigarette smoke, and perfumes
  • Additives, such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and Artificial Sweeteners
  • Food, such as aged cheeses, smoked meats, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, as well as wine

Finally, the important step is to minimize stress. The key to minimizing pain can be, learning how to manage stress through healthy lifestyle habits.

Finding relief for Migraine

Finding Relief for migraine is really important for the quality and safety of your life if you are suffering from any variant of migraine. Apart from medications and prevention strategies, consult a specialist for proper diagnosis and more interventional treatments to reduce the pain.

They may suggest medications or techniques for your migraine such as occipital nerve blocks to relieve your pain. If a migraine occurs for eight or more days per month for at least more than three months, then it will be considered chronic, even it is of any type.

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