Dizziness and migraines - what is the underlying disease?

Definition - What is Dizziness With Migraines?

Dizziness with migraines, often also called vestibular migraines, describes the occurrence of dizzy spells that can be temporally related to a migraine attack. This means that dizziness can occur both before, during and after the migraine attack. It also happens again and again that the dizziness occurs independently of the migraine pain. It is also possible that not every migraine attack is accompanied by an attack of dizziness. Dizziness can take several forms, which often makes it difficult to diagnose dizziness with migraines. Depending on the length of the migraine attack, the dizziness can last for a few hours, but can last for up to several days after the migraine attack.


The cause of dizziness and migraines as such has not yet been clarified. However, there are various theories and factors that are believed to work together to cause dizziness and migraines. A temporary disturbance of the blood flow to the organ of equilibrium in the inner ear is probably responsible for the occurrence of dizziness. The migraine is probably caused by a spreading change in the conductivity of the nerve cells. This conductivity is important so that information can be transmitted between cells.

The triggers for this circulatory disorder and change in conductivity are very diverse.

  • One of the most common triggers is stress as it puts a lot of stress on the body. If dizziness occurs together with stress, a migraine can quickly develop.
  • A lack of sleep also changes many circulatory systems in the body, which can lead to dizziness and tiredness leading to migraines.
  • A weather change as a trigger is typical for many of those affected. How exactly this is related has not yet been clarified.
  • Hormone fluctuations are also possible
  • But certain luxury foods, such as red wine or cheese, are also possible as triggers. Read about it: Dizziness from alcohol or dizziness after eating

Also read the articles:

  • Causes of dizziness
  • Causes of vertigo

Therapy of dizziness with migraines

The treatment of dizziness and migraines depends on the severity of the symptoms. Basically, the therapy is an extension of the treatment of a migraine with drugs that help against dizziness.

Correspondingly, painkillers such as Aspirin® or Ibuprofen © can be taken in an acute situation when a headache occurs. There is also a drug to fight the dizziness. Here, for example, dimenhydrinate is well suited, as it works against malaise and nausea at the same time. If nausea and vomiting also occur, a remedy, e.g. Vomex® or metoclopramide, be taken. In the meantime there is also the drug Vertigo-Vomex®, which also works well and quickly against nausea and dizziness that occurs at the same time.

If dizziness and migraines occur more than three times in a month, or if an attack lasts for several days, prophylaxis should be considered. This can be done, for example, with beta blockers for migraines. Lifestyle changes with regular exercise and relaxation should also be considered.

To prevent migraines and dizziness from occurring, it is also advisable to keep a migraine diary. This can help identify any triggers so that they can be avoided.

For more information on this topic, see: Therapy for vertigo or medication for vertigo

Concomitant symptoms

Various symptoms can occur with dizziness and migraines. The migraine attack usually manifests itself as a strong pulsating headache, which often occurs on one side. In addition, the accompanying symptoms typical of migraines, such as nausea, vomiting, but also sensitivity to light and noise, may be present.

Learn more about Dizziness with vomiting.

The dizziness itself can be felt as spinning, swaying or diffuse dizziness. The dizziness is often associated with an unsteady gait and stance and those affected have problems with coordination.

These symptoms can appear in different combinations and at different time intervals. This means that the dizziness can occasionally occur without the headache typical of a migraine, but with the other symptoms accompanying the migraine.

Without a headache

In the case of dizziness and migraines, it can also happen that the dizziness occurs together with the typical accompanying symptoms of the migraine, but without the headache itself. This is the case for every third person who suffers from dizziness and migraines. In this context, the term vestibular migraine, i.e. the organ of equilibrium, makes even more sense, as the focus is on dizziness. Nevertheless, the symptoms accompanying migraines, such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or noise, occur in connection with the vertigo attack.

Read about it too: Dizziness caused by the ear


Again and again, dizziness and migraines also lead to nausea. This can occur as a typical symptom accompanying migraines. The digestive tract is disturbed and often vomiting occurs as a result. The nausea can appear before the migraine. But it can also be caused or promoted by dizziness. Especially when vertigo occurs, those affected often feel like they are on a swaying ship. This causes nausea in many people.

Also read our article: Dizziness with nausea - that's behind it

Visual disturbances

Visual disturbances are also common with dizziness and migraines. On the one hand, they can be part of the so-called aura that occurs before the migraine attack. In addition to other possible symptoms, lightning bolts or other forms often occur in front of the eye. On the other hand, visual disturbances can also be part of the dizziness itself. They can cause dizziness, but they can also be accompanying. Most of the time, those affected then see blurred, which increases the dizziness and can make coordination and orientation much more difficult.

For more information read on: Dizziness and blurred vision


In some people, dizziness and migraines can also occur along with drowsiness. Coordination and orientation difficulties can arise. Most of the time, confusion is also associated with the drowsiness. This is often the case when there is a disturbance of the circulatory system when the migraines and dizziness occur. In this case, it is particularly important that those affected can lie down and that help is given for orientation. In addition, they should not be left alone in case the symptoms are more dangerous and a loss of consciousness occurs.

You might also be interested in these articles: Dizziness and lightheadedness


The diagnosis of dizziness and migraines is mainly made through the doctor-patient consultation. The prerequisite for this is the already made diagnosis of migraine. Typical criteria such as at least 5 migraine episodes and the often unilateral pulsating type of headache are necessary for this.

The dizziness can appear in different forms, for example it can be perceived as either turning, swaying or also diffuse vertigo. When making a diagnosis, it is also important that other possible causes of the dizziness, such as a disease of the organ of equilibrium, can be excluded.

You might also be interested in this article: Dizziness caused by the ear

Course of disease

The course of dizziness and migraines depends on the severity of the symptoms, as well as the correct diagnosis and appropriate therapy. It is not always that easy to recognize what is known as vestibular migraine. However, dizziness and migraines can be treated well in most cases, which means that the course of the disease remains fairly mild. There are also some good ways to prevent the attacks.In addition to various medications, this also includes keeping a diary to identify triggers. In addition, you can try to fight your vertigo attacks through so-called vertigo training.

Duration and forecast

The duration of dizziness and migraines are very different. A migraine attack itself usually lasts between 4 and 72 hours. The accompanying dizziness can already set in beforehand, but it can also occur during or after it. The duration of the dizzy spell is very variable and sometimes goes up to several days after a migraine attack. The disease as a whole is often incurable and attacks of dizziness and migraines occur again and again. However, given the right treatment with effective drugs and the identification of possible triggers, the prognosis is very good.