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Ocular migraines and symptoms of a stroke

  • By Subduedjoy

    I don’t get ocular migraines often, but the last one I had, which was several months ago, scared me. Towards the end of the ocular migraine, I started having trouble verbalizing to the point that I couldn’t think of words, couldn’t speak, and sounded garbled. It was as if I was having a stroke. It’s been several months, and I’m still forgetting words for things, forgetting how to spell words, and after figuring out how to spell words, finding that their spelling looks unfamiliar. I’m also forgetting more in general. Is this normal? And is there anything I should be doing besides eliminating triggers for migraines?

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    HI Subduedjoy,

    Thank you for your question and being here with us!

    That attack certainly sounds unsettling; was this the first episode like this? Typically, but not always, migraine attack symptoms dissipate when the attack is over. It’s a good idea to discuss changes in symptoms and/or patterns with the doctor. Seeing as you are having lingering symptoms, I would encourage you to speak with the doctor this week.

    Please let me know how you make out,
    Nancy

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  • By Subduedjoy

    It was the first episode like this. I’ve experienced ocular migraines since my early 30’s. I didn’t get them often, and I experienced only the visual disturbance, not the head pain. I always got them from straining my eyes, and I found that the aura would gradually get larger (ring -> open ring) until it disappeared if I rested my eyes for about 20-30 minutes. I also found that resting my eyes as soon as I noticed the aura would keep me from getting any head pain.

    After going through menopause, I started getting migraines without aura, and they would last for a few days. I also started getting ocular migraines with head pain. Still, these typically didn’t last for long. I also found that whenever I got a migraine, with or without aura, I was dehydrated, in bright sunlight, tense, and/or had consumed caffeine.

    For a few weeks before this particular ocular migraine, I did have a few episodes of ocular migraines that came and went repeatedly a few times. I was also noticing brief, pain zaps at the temples and was concerned because I had been having issues with inflammation of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, joints, right eye, and kidneys). I have Ulcerative Colitis and am at risk for vasculitis, especially since my inflammation went to locations outside the colon. Thankfully, I have been able to get my inflammation under control. Both of these (multiple ocular migraines and pain zaps) were new symptoms for me.

    Still, this ocular migraine was the first time that the aura and pain zaps came and went away so many times, and it was the first time that I ended up having difficulty verbalizing. It was scary. I’ve seen people who have had strokes, and I felt the same way. I did have caffeine that morning even though I know it’s a trigger for me. I haven’t touched caffeine since. I’m too scared to, but I also haven’t had a migraine, with or without aura.

    I have an appointment in mid January to see my PCP. It was the earliest appointment I could get.

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