Can Migraines Cause Brain Damage? Here’s All You Need To Know


A person with migraine will have headaches just reading the name. Migraine, in reality, are that painful, as the person who is suffering from it feel momentarily useless and able to do nothing but process the pain. Migraine is found in 10-15% of the population and the people have a varying degree of pain, depending on the severity of the condition.

Headache Type

Studies on people suffering from migraine have been conducted more frequently to understand the problem better, but with conflicting results.

Conflicting results, because the perspective of many critical studies has differed from each other on specific topics, namely if migraines damage brain or brain cells in the long run for a patient or does it help in altering the brains patterns or the way it is to function for the patient etc.

Patients and those caring for the people who are suffering always wonder if it would have any long-term effect on the brain. These doubts could then double into worry with the thought of brain damage in the long run, and that remains the big question; do migraines damage our brains?

Headache affecting Brain Cells

The answer to that is ‘No’.

Patients often worry about the idea of headaches killing brain cells, but research has a different way of putting things. The study does not say it kills brain cells but suggests there could cause alteration to the brain after prolonged migraines over an extended period.

The idea behind alteration of the brain caused by migraines essentially means chronic headaches can make changes to how your brain looks and acts over the course of time. It can frequently cause problems such as fatigue, lack of memory of things, lack of concentration etc. While migraines also affect the person’s mood and going forward, it could turn gloomy with repeated pain routines.

There is another finding which suggests towards a rare condition where the brain cells could die due to a stroke caused by migraines. Due to this stroke, the blood supply to the brain is cut off, instantly killing brain cells and causing permanent damage to the person. However, this condition described as the rarest of rare, and some even suggest there is more chance of a person being struck by lightning first than this condition.

Blood Supply To Brain

Conflicting Studies

Other prominent studies suggest that migraines do have a long-term effect which also results in brain damage. This is usually in the cases when aura is present in the migraines. The presence of aura increases the risk of white matter in the brain, and possesses a 68% risk of brain damage and nearly 44% change in brain volume. On the other hand, migraines without aura still can risk up to almost 34% of brain damage. In all, the type of a headache, especially the frequency and severity of it determines how much of damage it could cause to ones’ brain in the long term.

Aura Effects While Migraine Attack


– A small factoid on things studies have found about migraines

– Nearly one-third of people with migraines experience the problem with aura.

– Migraines are more effectual in adult women, nearly three times more than in adult men.

– 15% of the overall population could be affected by migraines in their lifetime, a number which could also rise to about 20%

– Migraines are also reported to become a risk factor in women that causes the ischemic stroke.

– People with migraines have more chances of brain damage than people without migraines.

– People who have migraines with aura run an increased risk of brain damage particularly white matter.

– As the brain suffers more damage due to the aura, the likelihood of migraine attacks and its severity is expected to increase in these patients.

Migraines are the subject of extensive studies, and due to the massive volume of information available, this could often confuse people seeking accurate information. As far as brain damage due to migraines is concerned, the results are conflicting at best, as some studies suggest damage, in the long run, others point towards brain alterations than actual damage. In the case of brain alterations, the same studies also indicate possibilities of reversing the state of the brain or its condition which was altered due to prolonged migraine attacks.

If you as a patient experience abnormality in your migraine attacks and suspect brain damage, then the best information could be provided by your immediate doctor, who could treat the problem first hand. Others who might expect such severe attacks in the future should consult their respective doctors for treatments which could merely keep the migraines in check. Consulting doctors will help the patients to understand their individual migraines better and subsequently follow up on much-required therapies depending on the severity of the attacks and the condition of the migraines on the whole.

About The Hospital

Medisys Hospitals is a growing super speciality hospital in Hyderabad that represents the vision and mission of a group of highly qualified and experienced medical professionals. Started in June 2016, it is a 200-bedded hospital with all medical and surgical specialties available. We rely on our in-house state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities to provide high level care for our patients.


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