Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Published in Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery 16 (2008), pp. 412–415; doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e32830a4a02 Copyright © 2008 Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Used by permission.


Purpose of review: In the past few years, otologists have been seeing an increasing number of patients with vestibular disorders due to migraine- associated vestibulopathy. This article reviews some of the latest developments in the understanding of this disease process, specifically its incidence, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Recent findings: Migraine-associated vestibular symptoms may include episodic true vertigo, movement-provoked dysequilibrium, imbalance/unsteadiness, and complaints of lightheadedness. The pathophysiology of migraine-associated vestibulopathy is not completely understood; however, both peripheral and central deficits have been observed. Although the International Headache Society classification does not include migraine-associated vestibulopathy as a subclassification of migraine, there is emerging evidence to support this development, which should then lead toward improved diagnosis and treatment. Currently, migraine-associated vestibulopathy is still considered a diagnosis of exclusion.
Summary: Treatment of migraine-associated vestibulopathy is effective and includes lifestyle changes, such as reducing triggers that increase susceptibility to migraines (e.g. stress, poor diet, nicotine, or irregular sleep patterns), prophylactic and abortive medications, vestibular therapy, or a combination of these. Further research is needed to better understand migraine-associated vestibulopathy and improve treatment.