You wake up and feel like you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean… You can’t seem to make it stop no matter what you do and would give anything to be back on land and have some stability. This is an incredibly common occurrence and our clients can experience it for years until they come to us and have their health addressed. In this article, I will be covering 9 red flags that your dizziness may actually be MAV migraines or migraine associated vertigo.
Before we get started its important to udnerstand that these red flags are only for informational and education purposes and not for diagnosing illness, only your doctor can do that.
Lets get into it.
1. Your dizziness comes with headaches
The most common presentation that will point towards your dizziness possibly being linked with migraines is that they come together.
But, just like vertigo and dizziness do not always come with straightforward symptoms, so too do migraines and headaches not always come in a neat and clean fashion we can put into a box.
Even though you may not be experiencing a classic migraine at the same time or around the time of these dizziness symptoms, it may come as neck pain, a sinus headache, temple pressure, pain behind the eyes or even in an ice pick like fashion.
But because of migraine, it’s also not necessarily put down to only pain symptoms.
2. Your dizziness may come with other phases of migraine/migraine symptoms
It may also be that you will experience an aura, predrome or postdrome with your dizziness symptoms but not the pain or attack phase. These are more likened to acephalgic headaches or migraines but still point to the brain being a main driver of the problem.
Some non head pain symptoms that your dizziness may come with include:
Visual aura or visual changes
Light, sound or smell sensitivity
Nausea or vomiting
Numbness or tingling
Weakness or faintness
Puffy eye lids
Cognitive issues like difficulty concentrating
Thirst or thirstlessness
Diarrhoea or constipation
Neck or muscular tension and tightness
Migraines can be very elusive and mysterious. They do not always show up with an aura or with head pain and because of this they can often be one of the last diagnoses after a large number of tests have been run.
Migraine diagnosis is often used as a way to tell the patient there is something wrong with there brain and they do not know what to do. Instead, they can start slowly ticking off the boxes of medications “to try” until they find one that gives them some semblance of a regular life back.
But this is a very reductionistic approach and there is much more we can do nutritionally, biochemically, neurologically and mentally/emotionally to restore the brains normal functioning, if only we can find out what is causing sufficient strain on our bodies systems to break down the brains processing.
3. Your symptoms revolve around triggers
One of the first places we go when we find out it’s migraine is to remove “our triggers.”
This is great because it will give us a way to pursue health/healing and find relief but it is often not sufficient enough to actually find out why these triggers have started and what the root cause of the matter is.
For example, if we find our triggers are histamine based then it begs the question, “why is our body having problems with too much histamine or breaking down histamine now.”
Or if we have digestive issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea that are relieved when we stop eating certain foods then it begs the question, “what is causing our digestive system so much trouble now.”
Or if we find our vertigo or migrainous symptoms are aggravated at every menstrual cycle then our doctors first response would be to put us on birth control but it begs the question, “why are our hormones not properly regulating themselves now.”
We want to understand our triggers and be able to take the immediate load off of our body so that we can ease off the dizziness, pain and give ourselves clarity.
But we also want to understand why this is happening now.
As an example, if we find a fire in our house and we want to put it out, we need to stop throwing gas on it first(our triggers) but we also want to find out what started the fire in the first place(root cause) so that it doesn’t start up again at another time.
For many people it may be mental/emotional stress that pushes our body over the edge in the first place but then something keeps it going even when the stress is gone.
An area that needs to be investigated is the gastrointestinal system because of how mental and emotional stress destroys our guts immunity and opens it up for pathogens and infections to take hold which can continue creating problems for months, years and even decades.
4. History whether it be personal or familial or migraine
The next tell tale pointing us in the direction of migraine is history. If we have a prior history of migraines then this is a given area to explore.
But it may also be that our siblings, parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents have or had migraines or vestibular issues as well.
We want to investigate this and especially look at the female side of our family.
Often times the connection to migraines is caused by weak mitochondria caused by poor exposure to the environment, poor food quality and other mitochondrial toxins.
Mitochondrial DNA is directly passed down through the mother’s egg and this can either set us up for resilience or weaknesses that need to be addressed through lifestyle and nutritional factors that change how our mitochondria function.
5. The severity of your dizziness and vertigo like symptoms change in intensity
Another great sign that it is not a structural problem and is instead being mediated by how your brain and body are interacting with each other, functioning and modulating inflammation is by changes in the intensity of symptoms.
A steady 6 or 7 of symptoms may point to something that just needs to be put back into place like our hyoid bone but if the symptoms are fluctuating then we need to investigate.
I always ask clients to use my logging system to keep track of symptoms, foods, sleep quality, possible triggers, severity of pain etc.
This helps us understand triggers that may unfold over multiple days.
Something like a light or smell trigger may be easy to spot, but food triggers are not the same.
Food particles can stay circulating in our body from 24-72 hours and if we have leaky gut and food particles are getting into our body then it is likely we have sensitivities to foods.
Whenever you eat a food you are sensitive to OR you eat a food that creates inflammation like many processed and packaged foods do, then you drive up your bodies immune response.
Your immune system will aggravate and inflammation levels will rise.
This is an easy way for you to push your trigger levels passed your threshold.
But it can happen at any point in the 72 hour cycle of the food and that depends on your immune system.
This is why I created the food triggers guide to help you understand what’s going on.
6. Destruction of the quality of your life
A little dizziness here or there can just be part of our bodies fluctuations and how it adjusts its systems based on what is happening in the environment.
When it has become so severe that your quality of life is compromised and you cannot function enough to work, enjoy time with your family or maintain hobbies, then the signs of chronic illness are here.
The good part is that chronic illnesses are often addressable and correctable because our body is always trying to maintain homeostasis but the bad news is that our medical system is not prepared for chronic illness and does not deal with it properly.
It uses an acute care model for chronic illnesses and this leaves many sufferers searching for the “right diagnosis” and the “right medication” their entire lives.
It’s not your fault. The educational part of the system just isn’t there but if you can take responsibility and educate yourself then your chances of overcoming the break down of your body systems skyrockets.
Hopefully this message finds you sooner than later as the sooner you can catch it and learn what you need to know to heal, the faster your recovery may be.
7. Association with thyroid type symptoms
These last three are from clinical tidbits and common causes of why it is that our body systems break down enough that our brain gets dragged down with them.
Our brain is a semi closed and well protected system. Unless we sustain a head injury then it is something in our bodies malfunctioning that is acting as the “linchpin” in the deterioration of our brains.
We have to understand that 80%+ of our brain is glial cells. These are immune cells and this means that our brain is largely an immune body.
If inflammation and oxidation are causing our immune system to go haywire, our brain can create neuroinflammation and suffer.
One of the common areas this happens is through our thyroid. Our thyroid is called a master gland because thyroid hormone is present on literally every cell in our bodies and the thyroid regulates the speed at which our cells function.
More thyroid hormone = faster metabolic function (inside and outside the cell)
Less thyroid hormone = slower metabolic function (inside and outside the cell)
We have to heal our thyroid if we want to heal our bodies and this often involves correcting the reason behind its dysfunction which are many. Hypothyroid is much more common among migraine sufferers and the two often go together.
Some common symptoms we can use to understand if our thyroid is having problems are:
Low menstrual blood flow
Racing heartbeat or palps
Intolerance to heat
Bowel movement changes
Enlargement of thyroid gland
Increased appetite and hunger
Mental fog or sluggishness
Weight gain or fluid retention
Joint aches and pains
Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
Feeling cold, or increased sensitivity to cold
Hoarseness or dry skin
Slow heart rate
Thinning hair, hair loss or thin eye brows
Get your thyroid addressed and not simply with medications, healing thyroid is a full body process and taking a synthetic hormone supplement like synthroid is unlikely to completely correct the causes and symptoms.
8. Break down in immunity
Immunity is a complex topic but at the end of the day the way we address it can be quite simple.
There is a reason why your immune system is either upregulated and overactive or down regulated and being suppressed.(Or a combination of both)
It may be as simple as blood sugar handling problems or as complex as a viral infection that is being kept circulating because of a GI problem.
The place where we interact with the world the closest and where we hold the majority of our immune system is in our GUT.
Everything we ingest interacts with us through the filter of a 100 trillion bacteria and the thin wall that goes from our mouth to anus. If we are having problems here like food intolerances, dysbiosis, infections or toxicities then this is where we need to address our problem.
One of the first and foremost tests we will teach in clinic for our clients is gut testing.
If you have an infection, even without any digestive symptoms it can be crippling your immune system and any chance you will have to heal properly.
9. Compromised Neuro-endocrine system
The last red flag and this is often one of the first areas that will break down as your body begins the process of migraining years before you may actually get a migraine is compromise in your nervous and hormonal systems.
This feels like:
Food cravings or loss of appetite
Weight gain or loss
Sleep issues and trouble waking
Anxiety or depression(or both)
Low blood pressure
Blood sugar issues and an inability to miss meals
Reliance on stimulants and headaches without your morning coffee
This can often cause menstrual or meal related headaches.
Part of this is caused because of our lack of exposure to sufficient day light which causes dysregulation in the communication between our hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands but it can also be caused by:
Excessive periods of stress
Over or undereating
Irregular sleep patterns
We need to address our body as a whole because that is what it is. Only looking at the ear or the brain can often get us into a host of unneeded treatments and years if not decades of continued pain and symptoms when really the problem was elsewhere.
It’s always important to have someone spend the time to educate you on your condition and bring together all of the different assessments and treatments that other healthcare providers have gone through with you.
By doing this you will have the most integrated and holistic program that will give you the best chance of getting through this phase of wobbliness.
If you need help and don’t know where to turn then send me a message using the form below and make sure to see our articles on:
Have you experienced or do you suspect you may have MAV migraines?
Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.