Complex Migraine Is the Verdict For Reporter Serene Branson

As folks watched their news last night, they were probably more than taken aback when perky reporter Serene Branson appeared to be giving her report on the Grammy's in incomprehensible jibberish. Was she high on drugs? Did she have a stroke? What was going on?!

After this report, the word was sent out that this reporter suffers from complex migraines. Complex migraine refers to a special type of migraine with aura where marked neurological symptoms occur that can mimic a stroke. Some people also refer to these types of attacks as "complicated migraine" when the symptoms last for hours or even days.

Most people are familiar with migraine auras where you can see colored balls, sparkly lights, or zigzag lines, or may have some numbness or weakness. In complex migraine, the symptoms are often more profound and frightening for both the patient and those around them. Developing problems with speech or confusion are often unrecognized as migraine auras, especially when headache is minor or absent during attacks. Sometimes, like this reporter, sufferers are unaware that anything unusual is happening during a complex migraine.

We had a terrific nurse in my office who occasionally experienced complex migraines that resulted in speech problems and confusion. She had no headache with this and didn't recognize that anything was wrong during her attacks other than people looked at her funny. She'd cheerfully try explaining information to patients who would become baffled and wonder what was going on. We soon learned to recognize the start of these attacks to keep her in the office and get her treatment until she was back to herself.

If you have an up-to-date migraine book, you probably won't find the term complex migraine in the index. Headache experts have decided that the term complex migraine shouldn't be used anymore and simply refer to these migraines as migraine with aura or sometimes complicated aura. If you have migraine attacks with complex auras, like this reporter or my nurse, it's important to tell your doctor so you can get effective treatment.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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