12/17/07 #9 - Does part of the brain die every time you have a Migraine?

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  • Full Question:
    I have recently been told that every time you have a a migraine or headache that part of the brain dies. I suffer with Migraines/Headaches 3-4 times a week and they sometimes last 7 to 14 days, but never truly go away. I have been to my doctor about these headaches who has said that they are nothing to worry about, but my concern is if it is true that a part of the brain dies every time you have a migraine, what will happen to me/should I be very worried. Also I am epileptic and take lamotrigine tablets - could these be causing the headaches? Vicki.





    Dear Vicki;

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    No, it's not true that part of the brain dies every time you have a Migraine. However, you would be well served to get your Migraines under better control and perhaps to find a doctor who takes them a bit more seriously.

    Although rare, Migraines that last as long as you mention increase a Migraineur's risk of stroke. So 7- to 14-day Migraines are something that should be addressed. Perhaps it's time to find a true Migraine specialist with an established track record. The link to our directory of recommended specialists is below. There is also some research questioning whether Migraine may be a progressive brain disease because of lesions found on the brains of some Migraineurs. Here's an article about that:

    Is Migraine a Progressive Brain Disease?
    A study and JAMA article, "Migraine as a Risk Factor for Subclinical Brain Lesions," examine the connection between Migraine disease, brain lesions, cerebral infarction (stroke), and the frequency of Migraine attacks. Some news articles have made this information sound very frightening. It's not, but it is information every Migraineur should take seriously, and keep Migraine prevention and early attack abortion seriously.

    How long have you been taking Lamotrigine? If you've had an increase in your Migraine frequency since beginning it, definitely mention it to your doctor. Something else that may be of interest to you is that several of the medications that are most successful in preventing Migraine attacks are also medications used to treat epilepsy. Some examples are Depakote, Neurontin, Keppra, Topamax, and Zonegran.


    Good luck,
    John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert


    If you need to find a headache and Migraine specialist, please see our listing of patient recommended specialists.


    Another good source of information and support is our forum. To post to the forum, you'll need to register, even if you're already registered on the main section of our site. You can use the same email address and password for both registrations.



    About Ask the Clinician:

    Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and Migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert.


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    We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q & A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full Disclaimer.


    © Teri Robert and J.C. Krusz, 2007.

    Last updated December 17, 2007.

Published On: December 17, 2007