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Do Migraines Cause Damage to the Brain?

Ask a Doctor

I’ve had migraines for years, and I’m in my 50s now. It seems like every time I turn around I’m forgetting where my keys are, missing appointments and just being forgetful in general. Maybe my memory problems are just getting worse as I age, but I can’t help thinking all those years of painful migraines may have had a cumulative effect. Do migraines cause brain damage?

Doctor’s Response

Some studies have shown brain changes that occur in certain migraine patients.

In people who have migraine with aura a study showed a small but statistically significant increased appearance of white-matter abnormalities and infarct-like lesions. On brain scans, some patients with migraine had more volume in some parts of their brain, and less volume in other parts of their brain, compared to those who did not suffer from migraines. These differences did not appear to be progressive or caused by migraine attacks.

The good news is that so far, none of these changes seem to be associated with any cognitive losses.

Fore more information, read our full medical article on migraine.

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Reviewed on 4/9/2019
References
The Migraine Trust. Does migraine damage the brain? 2 January 2019 .