Dazed and Confused – How Migraines Affect Your Memory
A migraine is so much more than just a nasty headache. The pain portion can be intense, long-lasting, and extremely taxing on the entire system. That doesn’t even touch upon how migraine negatively affects the rest of your body. Depending on your physical and physiological makeup, a migraine can also cause serious confusion and brain fog. For many people, one of the scariest side effects of a migraine attack is memory loss and mental confusion. Often occurring after the pain of the attack has come and gone (in the postdrome phase), migraine brain fog can be frustrating, scary, and incredibly challenging.
Migraine, Memory Loss, and Brain Fog
There are many different types of migraines, from migraine with aura to headaches caused by a hormonal imbalance or even high blood pressure. Silent migraines, for one, can carry a variety of aura symptoms, including mental confusion and speech problems. And according to a recent Migraine.com study, 70 percent of migraine sufferers experience some cognitive impairment before, during, or after an attack.
Some of the most common symptoms of mental fog caused by migraine include:
● Short-term memory loss
● Difficulty completing normal daily activities
● Feeling as if the brain is clouded or being held back
● Difficulty finding the right words while talking
When your brain doesn’t quite feel like it’s working properly or up to speed, it can be extremely challenging to do just about anything.
During a migraine attack, the chemistry and structure of the brain can change, resulting in varying degrees of memory loss and other related symptoms. This is particularly the case for those who suffer from chronic migraines. Over time and depending on attack frequency, an individual’s brain function can be seriously affected.
When talking about migraines and memory loss, I must briefly touch on confusional migraines, or acute confusional migraine (ACM). Most common in children and teenagers, ACM migraines are relatively rare. As you may have guessed from the name, one of the main symptoms of ACM migraines is confusion. Many also experience memory loss during the episode. Other symptoms of ACM migraines include:
● Severe headache
● Distorted or blurred vision
● Speech problems
We still have a lot to learn about ACM migraines, but the cause, experts believe, is stress, overexertion, certain foods and drinks, and of course, lifestyle.
What You Can Do About It
Different types of migraines impact the system in unique ways – it’s a fact. As we’ve discussed, silent migraines can lead to cognitive decline and memory loss, and they may also increase the risk of stroke. The key to finding relief and getting your migraine symptoms under control is understanding the physiological and physical changes that are occurring in the different stages of migraine. Although memory loss is typically short-term and any brain fog that comes along with a migraine usually lifts, both can be quite hard on the long-term functionality of the brain.
If you experience mental confusion with a migraine, it is important to find ways to cope. Here are a few tips for overcoming the heaviness of mental confusion caused by a migraine:
● Be patient and forgiving with yourself – recovery from migraines takes time
● Don’t rush simple tasks
● Write everything down to help keep yourself organized and focused
● Start a meditation regimen
● Keep a schedule, wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, eat at the same time daily, including weekends
● Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Migraine attacks can be frustrating and difficult. If you’ve tried everything you can and you’re still struggling, call 203-840-0000 for a phone or in-office consultation.