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SYNOPSIS

The frequency of vestibular symptoms in 104 headache patients during the headache-free phase was studied. The group was comprised of 84 patients with migraine (24 classical and 60 common) 12 with tension and 8 with cluster headache. Fifty-four headache-free subjects served as controls. All the participants filled out a vestibular symptom questionnaire.

Patients with classical migraine reported significantly more vestibular symptoms than the controls. Specifically they had more dizzy spells (r = 0.002) and vertigo episodes (r = 0.01) not associated with the headache. They also had more frequent motion sickness spells. Of the classical migraine patients reporting motion sickness 87% experienced it at least once in 6 weeks compared to only 11% of the controls. Classical migraine patients also probably have an especially “sensitive” vestibular system, as evidenced by increased tendency to visual vertigo (r = 0.005) and significantly increased dizziness when they themselves were spinning.

The common migraine patients showed a tendency to vestibular impairment that was not statistically significant. Recent findings of vestibular function abnormalities in this group may suggest an evolving dysfunction that is not yet symptomatic. Patients with tension and cluster headache did not differ from the controls in all the vestibular symptoms studied.

In summary, our findings indicate clearly a vestibular impairment in classical migraine. The relation to “benign recurrent vertigo,” problems in the relationship of the occurrence of motion sickness to migraine and the possible mechanism causing the vestibular dysfunction are discussed.