The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect various countries, including the US. The government urges people to stay vigilant, especially in detecting possible indications of coronavirus infection such as headaches and light sensitivity. These two symptoms, which mimic that of migraines, are among the top complaints of patients seeking help from doctors.
As a result, some people aren’t sure if they should get tested for COVID-19 or just try migraine remedies. Does this sound familiar? If you’re among the many confused patients out there, our guide on distinguishing COVID-19-related headaches and ocular migraine-caused headaches might be helpful.
What are Ocular Migraines?
Ocular migraine or migraine with aura is a complex neurological problem that triggers visual disturbances, pulsating headaches, numbness, vomiting, nausea, and sensory sensitivity. Statistics report that migraines with aura or visual disturbances occur in about 25 percent of migraineurs. Most of the time, the aura symptoms occur hours before the headache phase. They can last up around 10 to 60 minutes before the pulsating headaches start to manifest.
Apart from migraines with aura, doctors sometimes use ocular migraines to describe retinal migraines. Essentially, it’s another neurological condition that causes the retinal arteries to narrow and triggers temporary vision loss. Statistics show that it’s a rare condition, affecting 1 out of 200 individuals.
Studies explain that people diagnosed with ocular migraines have a small risk of developing permanent vision loss in one eye. That’s why it’s crucial to speak to your physician, get a definitive diagnosis, and prevent further complications of your ocular migraine attacks.
What Triggers an Ocular Migraine?
Ocular migraines share several triggers with a typical migraine attack. We highly recommend keeping tabs on these triggers or risk factors so you can significantly reduce the impact of a retinal migraine or migraine with aura episode. Most patients who seek a chiropractor for migraines report the following triggers:
Patients with family members who have ocular migraines typically have a higher chance of experiencing migraines. If you have a family history of migraines, we strongly recommend consulting with a doctor to manage your symptoms better.
Increased hormone levels
A spike in estrogen in the blood during the menstrual cycle, perimenopause, or pregnancy term affects how the brain perceives pain. As a result, many females who have ocular migraines experience worse bouts of pain.
Sensory overload occurs when your brain receives excessive information from your five sensory organs. That’s why when you get exposed to loud sounds, strong odors, or bright lights, you become at risk of experiencing a migraine episode.
Besides causing infections, chronic sinus problems, and seasonal changes, weather fluctuations also trigger migraine headaches. Doctors explain that it has something to do with neuron depolarization, a factor known to stimulate the mechanism behind a migraine with aura.
A poor diet consisting of products with nitrates or MSG
Nitrates and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are common ingredients found in processed food and fast-food meals. Sadly, studies note that they can trigger headaches or retinal migraines. Some report that MSG can cause the onset of migraine symptoms in under 20 minutes.
A misaligned neck
Many patients who have frequent ocular migraine attacks head to a chiropractor for migraines for help. That’s because these patients have cervical bone misalignment, a common consequence of head or neck trauma, poor posture, and spine problems.
The misaligned bones often press on tissues nearby, like nerve roots or the brainstem. Consequently, this triggers some of the usual symptoms of ocular migraines like headaches, visual disturbances, confusion, and facial muscle numbness.
Is Ocular Migraine a Symptom of COVID-19?
Apart from causing physical harm, the COVID-19 pandemic has also triggered a massive surge in mental health cases, as people feel anxious about the uncertainty of their health. Some who experience symptoms such as headaches or ocular migraines quickly panics, thinking that they have contracted the disease.
Here are some notes we would like to impart to patients who experience ocular migraines and think it’s a COVID-19 symptom:
- Some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 experience intense and frequent headaches and migraines attacks.
- There aren’t enough studies to explain how COVID-19 affects the nervous system. However, a May 2021 research paper showed three case studies of COVID-19 patients who also experience migraine episodes.
- The pandemic has caused a significant spike in the cases of worse migraines and headaches in non-infected individuals due to stress, lack of communication with doctors, and anxiety.
- Patients who recovered from COVID-19 still experience lingering ocular migraine symptoms for several months.
Ocular Migraines and Upper Cervical Care
If you’re 100 percent certain that your ocular migraines do not have a connection to COVID-19, you can consult with an upper cervical chiropractic doctor for help. Most cases of ocular migraines stem from cervical misalignment. This means that the symptoms will most likely come and go until you finally restore our spine’s normal curvature.
Using upper cervical care, you can slowly adjust the misaligned neck bones and release pressure and tension on the brainstem and other affected tissue. Consequently, this can help alleviate your ocular migraines and possibly, get rid of your symptoms for good.
If you would like to get help for your retinal or ocular migraines, you can contact a chiropractor for migraines in your city for help. The sooner you can get the assessment and adjustments, the better chances you have of experiencing relief and minimizing damage to your nervous system.
On the one hand, if you show other symptoms of COVID-19 or had recent exposure to people who have tested positive for the virus, we recommend getting tested right away.