A migraine is not just a headache. This condition can affect quality of life even when there are no seizures. In a study published by Neurology, scientists found that patients with migraine were more likely to experience motion sickness. The authors of the work named possible causes of this problem.
During a roller coaster ride, almost anyone can get dizzy, but people trying migraines, are much more likely to face the problem of motion sickness.
In a new study, scientists from Germany have determined how often people with migraine get motion sickness compared to healthy people, and also revealed previously unknown features of the work of their nervous system. To do this, they used a simulation of a roller coaster ride.
The study involved 20 patients with migraine and 20 healthy people. Their average age was 30 years old. Participants suffering from migraine experienced an average of 3.7 attacks per month, 15% of whom were taking medication to prevent it. During the experiment, they did not have migraine attacks, 15% had them within two days after the virtual trip.
Study participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while watching a 35-minute realistic video simulating a roller coaster ride. In the video, fast driving alternated with slow climbs.
Compared to controls, patients with migraine were more likely to report feeling dizzy (65% vs 30%) and motion sick (47.3% vs 24.3%) while watching the video. In those who suffered from migraines, the symptoms were more pronounced and prolonged.
Functional MRI showed that people who regularly experience migraine attacks had increased activity in the brain regions that are responsible for vision, pain perception, motor information processing and balance. They also had reduced activity in parts of the brain associated with cognitive functions, including attention. The more severe the migraine in people, the more pronounced were these changes during the trip.
“Our data show that areas of the brain associated with migraine pain processing overlap with brain systems that regulate motion sickness and dizziness. People with migraines do more than just have a headache. They also often face other problems that can reduce their quality of life. This study gives us a better understanding of what is going on in their brains,” said Gabriella Carvalo from the University of Lübeck.