is there a relationship between migraine headaches and seizures?

i had migraine headaches for over one year, before the headaches i used to see star like flashes of light in my eyes then immediately i get the headaches, this happened for a long time but i used to take pain re leavers or just rest. this happened until one day when i just had a seizure this was my first. from then i have been having seizures for now 4 years although now under control and when i am not on medication i see "the stars" in my eyes and in one or two days i have a seizure. but i no longer have the migraine headaches its like the star like flashes is see in my eyes tell me that i will have a seizure soon. has any one had a similar experience or can any one explain to me whats happening?

17 Replies

  • I dont think so because i have epilepsy and i only got it in my late

    Twenties and my first ever migraine was when i was twelve

  • thanks for your information jules I appreciate

  • Not quite sure but they say that we all have different trigures & we all have different signs before we have a seizure. Mine is trigured by tiredness & stress then I get a rushing feeling starting from my toes travelling up through my body before I have a seizure, I also feel a bit shaky inside. I suffer from hormonal headaches & migraines but don't think they're linked with my epilepsy.

  • thanks for your information Carley I appreciate

  • Hi liljaks, I hope the following helps you. I have had epilepsy for 44 years and had never been diagnosed with migraine but suffered intense headaches. Not until I researched did I finally discover that the long term use of anticonvulsants had depleted my stores of vitamins B & D and minerals. My vitamin D level fell to 34 nmols/L (optimum 75 - 125) because doctors were not monitoring it. I would also suggest testing your Magnesium and Calcium levels as I feel so much better by taking 500 mgs of Magnesium Citrate.

    The Minnesota Epilepsy Association reported on 16/08/2012 about some interesting/important points about migraine and epilepsy:

    •Migraines can trigger seizures. Migraine triggered seizures are defined as seizures that occur within one hour of a migraine aura. The migraine aura is the warning that patients get before the headache gets severe- for example, patients may see flashing lights that slowly move across their visual fields. Patients may also have nausea that builds up over several minutes as their aura.

    •Patient example: 28 year-old woman with a history of migraines and epilepsy for several years. The patient would note her migraine aura. This was a visual change—flashing lights that slowly moved from left to right across her visual field. The aura would become more intense over 10 minutes. Eventually, the symptoms could lead into a seizure (not always, but every few months)—patient would stare, lose contact, smack her lips and pick at her clothes. The seizure would last 60 seconds. She would then come out of the seizure. Although she would be mostly recovered, the patient would often be left with a headache. Headaches were often a throbbing pain on one side of her head. Headaches were associated with nausea, light and sound would bother her. Headache would last for hours. Patient would often want to go lay down in a dark room.

    •Migralepsy: this is the term for migraine-triggered seizure.

    •Rates of migraine triggered seizures: In patients who have both epilepsy and migraine, migraine was noted to trigger seizures in 1.7-16% of patients.

    •The prevalence of migraine in patients with epilepsy has been shown to be approximately 24%.

    •Patients with epilepsy are 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with migraine (compared to the general population).

    •37%-51% of patients experience headaches after their seizures. These are called postictal headaches. These headaches can be as problematic as the seizures, for some patients.

    •Mechanism of migraine and epilepsy: •Neurons are more active in both migraine and in epileptic seizures. A seizure, of course, is due to abnormal electrical activity coming from the brain. A migraine aura is due to cortical spreading depression (CSD). CSD is a wave of electrical activity that slowly moves across the cerebral cortex. The abnormal electrical activity in a migraine aura moves more slowly than the typical spread of a seizure. One certainly can see how a migraine aura could trigger a seizure—the abnormal electricity of a migraine aura, in a patient with epilepsy, could trigger neuronal excitation and a seizure.

    •Treatment can “kill two birds with one stone”. • Certain medications can effectively treat both migraine headaches and epileptic seizures.

    •Such medications include topamax and depakote.

    •Possible reason that seizure medications work in migraine and epilepsy- similar mechanisms (both cause abnormal neuron excitation—see paragraph above).


    Forderreuther S, Henkel A, Noachtar S, Straube A. Headache associated with epileptic seizures: epidemiology and clinical characteristics. Headache 2002;42:649-55.

    Haut SR, Fishman O, Lipton RB. Migraine, migralepsy and basilar migraine. In: Atlas of epilepsies. Edited by CP Panayiotopoulos. Pp 629-637. Springer Verlag, London 2010.

    Silberstein SD, Lipton RB, Haut S. Migraine. In: Epilepsy: A comprehensive textbook. Edited by Jerome Engel and Timothy Pedley. Pp 2733-2743. Lipppincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia 2008

    Written by James White, MD

    Dr. White has been practicing as a full-time epileptologist since 1999. His practice focuses on optimizing the diagnosis and treatment of patients with seizure disorders. Dr. White’s special interests include patient education, improving the side-effect profile of seizure medications, and epilepsy surgery.

    Kind regards, Will

  • thanks very much willyoung i find myself fitting in the first examples situation

  • I wld like to say i suffer from hashimotos encephalitis so i have headaches nearly everyday and i tend to stay away from flashin lights and other migraine triggers

  • I also have migraines which trigger seizures or the other way around... it's so hard to tell. Have severe headaches most days. Gradually increasing my dose of lamotrigine and things are slowly starting to improve. However memory loss is significant and unsure if this is due to epilepsy or medication.

  • Hi there im on been on lamotrigine for about 6 months I think and it has definitely reduced the amount of migraines I have I hope they will help with tonic clonic seizures + focal seizure

  • Hi... I think in some cases migraines and epilepsy are definitely related. My son suffered horrendous migraines every 4-6 weeks from the age of 7. At 11 he began to get partial seizures that clustered before a migraine and at 14 he had his first Tonic/Clonic. strangely his migraines have receded and instead he has tonic/clonics every 4-6 weeks! He has severe headaches after a seizure but these do not feel the same as migraines.

    Also my sister and my niece both suffered from migraines and epilepsy. In our case I reckon the cause it is likely to be genetic

    Hope this helps.

  • thanks for your informaton. this is what exactly happened to me but for my case i dont think it is genetic

  • It is not genetic. None of my family members had epilepsy, and surprise surprise, I have it, even with no family history whatsoever.

  • Thank you for this post Chimbelina. I too suffered from migraines since I was 12… but in my mid-30s the "aura" changed from my tradition blind-spot "twenty-minute warning" to deja-vu filled seizures. Almost like visions, but they are short (a few seconds), and leave me with a headache similar to my traditional migraines. I do not get the traditional eye auras anymore…. now I get these strange, deja-vu filed seizures that warn me a migraine is approaching.

  • Hi Mazeman, your post caught my attention because I also get aura migraines once every couple of months (I'm 36), and just recently I had a horrible sensation that affected my eyes/balance and the only way I could describe it was feeling like I'd had a 'mini seizure'.. I've never been diagnosed with epilepsy or seizures of any type however I get dizzy/lightheaded on an almost daily basis and the recent episode with my vision really scared me as it came on out of nowhere, only lasted a few seconds but left me feeling scared and unsteady on my feet and really tired... I am going to go back to the doctor to follow this up. He had recently told me I have benign positional vertigo but I feel like it's more than this. I suffered severe head trauma in my early teens and I do wonder if its all related....

    Do you have any advice?

  • Hi there, I've just seen this thread so apologies for the delay. At the beginning of this year evidence a study showed that there may be a shared genetic cause for epilepsy and migraines with auras. We reported on this in our January 2013 enewsletter:

  • Well, I would have to say yes. I don't mean to alarm you. I got diagnosed as an epileptic patient after I had an incident my grandma's house in Michigan. It was my first seizure, so neither me or my parents were expecting it. I was getting these weird headaches, chronic actually, migraines. I thought it was from the ride in the plane, but after I was rushed to the local hospital, the doctor did say those are symptoms. So after a 5 day hospital stay, I went back to my grandmas' but I guess yes, they do come with chronic migraines, if you don't get your medicine, you'll have a seizure. The headaches are just a good warning sign to get your medicine.. Believe me. You do want to take it, you don't want to have seizures

  • Yeah there's a condition called migraine seizures

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