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Feeling lightheaded

Sometimes when you stand up too quickly you may experience a feeling of lightheadedness. It feels as if you might faint or pass out. The medical term for it is “presyncope,” which is pronounced pree-sink-oh-pee. It refers to feeling faint without actually passing out. Usually it is caused by temporary low blood pressure—that means less blood is going to your head. It may feel as if you will lose your balance upon standing.

Feeling lightheaded as a migraine symptom

For people with migraines, the lightheaded feeling is a common symptom. It is often associated with vertigo or dizziness. Often people who suffer from migraines use the words dizziness and lightheadedness interchangeably, because the symptoms are so similar. Vertigo describes the sensation or the illusion of spinning or moving when you are motionless. Lightheadedness is a feeling of faintness or like you’re floating, without the spinning sensation.

Less than 10 percent of migraine sufferers have this type of migraine lightheadedness. It is most common among people in their 40s and 50s. Often the person has suffered from migraines for years without symptoms of lightheadedness, which suddenly appear. It is unclear exactly why some migraine sufferers experience lightheadedness.

What causes migraine lightheadedness or dizziness?

Triggers are often the same as those that cause migraines, such as:

Others triggers that may cause lightheadedness include:

  • Regular motion
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Playing video games
  • Riding in a vehicle

The symptoms may occur at different stages of the migraine attack. Some sufferers complain of being lightheaded after migraines, while others may experience the symptom before or during the attack.

Because migraine attacks impact parts of the body beyond the head, a range of symptoms, including feeling lightheaded can occur.

The treatment for migraine lightheadedness is the same as the treatment for migraines. First, the triggers must be identified and avoided. Each person may have a different combination of triggers. It is very helpful if you keep a migraine journal that records your symptoms, what time of day you experience them, what occurred before the symptoms began, how long they last and the severity. This will help you identify and later avoid your migraine triggers.


Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010