Although silent migraine is not recognized as a type of migraine by the International Headache Society, many patients are often told they are suffering from silent, or acephalgic, migraine. The terms silent migraine and acephalgic migraine are actually referring to an individual phase of a migraine attack.
Silent migraine is not a separate type of migraine. The terms “silent” and “acephalgic” are descriptive terms, not diagnostic, used to describe a migraine attack without the headache phase of the attack – a migraine with no headache.
What are silent migraines?
The typical phases of a migraine attack may include:
People typically associate migraines with the third phase of head pain. However, some migraine sufferers experience a type of migraine that has many migraine symptoms, yet the head pain is absent. The terms silent migraine and acephalgic migraine refer to a migraine attack which skips the third phase of headache.
Migraine sufferers may experience only silent migraine attacks, while others may have some migraine attacks with head pain and others without. Although silent migraines may occur at any age and in those who never experienced migraines before, most often silent migraines pop up in people who suffered from migraines with aura when they were younger.
Other names for silent migraine
People may use many different terms to refer to a migraine attack without headache.
- Acephalgic migraine
- Amigranous migraine
- Migraine aura without headache
- Migraine equivalent
Types of silent migraine
Silent migraine attacks may be occur in people who experience any of the migraine types recognized by the International Headache Society, including:
- Migraine without aura
- Migraine with aura
- Common Childhood Precursors of Migraine
- Cyclical vomiting
- Abdominal Migraine
- Benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood
- Retinal Migraine
Silent migraine symptoms
People experiencing silent migraine may experience all the symptoms of a migraine attack without the head pain. Some of these symptoms include:
- Speech disturbance
- Migraine aura
- Vision changes
- Seeing flashes or flickering lights
- Seeing zigzag lines or waves, also called fortification illusions
- Seeing spots, stars, halos, circles, lines, shimmering, other shapes or colors
- Blurry vision
- Loss of vision
- Cloudy vision
- Other visual disturbances
- Seeing three-dimensional effects
- Seeing dark areas
- Migraine sensory aura symptoms such as
- Other symptoms
Because many of the symptoms of silent migraines are the same as the symptoms for stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke, it is very important to see a medical professional immediately to diagnose the cause of the symptoms. Ruling out stroke and other more serious disorders is crucial since the typical migraine head pain is not present.
How to get rid of silent migraines
Your doctor will recommend appropriate treatment based on the type of migraine and symptoms you experience. If you frequently experience migraine without headache, migraine treatments still may help relieve other symptoms of your migraine attacks.