First For Women

Only 50% who suffer from silent migraines get diagnosed

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Migraines don’t always come with head pain, so women with “silent” migraines, marked by visual disturbanc­es, fatigue and other migraine symptoms, may suffer for years before they’re diagnosed and treated, says John Rothrock, M.D., a professor of neurology at the George Washington University School of Medicine. In fact, only half of sufferers are properly diagnosed.

Silent migraines strike women up to three times more than men. And because the symptoms may be vague, women may not see a doctor or may rush to the ER when vision problems or dizziness strike, and spend thousands on testing, Dr. Rothrock says.

Diagnosis is a matter of ruling out other conditions, which can be frustratin­g. If you suspect silent migraines, talk to a headache specialist about it. In the meantime, the steps below can help.

Correcting a magnesium shortfall can reduce episodes by up to 42%. “Low levels of magnesium promote a wave of brain signaling that triggers the visual and sensory changes that mark silent migraines, and correcting a deficiency can make a dramatic difference in symptoms,” says Alexander Mauskop, M.D. He suggests supplement­ing with 400 mg. of magnesium glycinate daily. Eating magnesium-rich foods can help too, but some (like nuts and seeds) have compounds that trigger migraines, so he advises opting for sources like leafy greens and whole grains.

“Meditation alleviates the stress that’s a major trigger for all types of migraines,” says Dr. Mauskop. In one study, meditating for 20 minutes a day reduced silent migraine flare-ups by 71%. Dr. Mauskop advises using guided meditation­s on apps like Calm and Breathe.

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