A migraine headache is a complex condition with a wide variety of migraine symptoms that will vary from person to person. For many people, the main feature is an extremely painful, and more often than not, debilitating headache. A migraine can cause severe throbbing pains or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. These ‘migraine attacks’ can cause significant pain for hours to even days.
There are typically four stages when distinguishing the migraine symptoms of your headache.
- The first is known as prodrome. These generally occur around one or two days before a migraine begins. They can include constipation, mood changes (from depression to euphoria), food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst & urination and/or frequent yawning.
- Then, the stage known as aura occurs, just before or during migraines. Most people experience migraines without aura. Auras are symptoms of the nervous system. They are usually visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or wavy, zigzag vision and or blind spots. Sometimes auras can also be in the form of sensory sensations such as movement (motor) or speech (verbal) disturbances. Your muscles may get weak, you may feel as though someone is touching you, a tingling on the side of one’s face, arms or legs may occur as well.
- Then comes the stage of the attack (a headache), where the actual migraine lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated. The frequency with which headaches occur varies from person to person. Migraines may be rare, or strike several times a month. During a migraine, you may experience; pain on one side or both sides of your head, pain that feels like a throbbing or pulsing, sensitivity to light, sounds, smells & sometimes touch, nausea & vomiting and/or blurred vision & lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting.
- Lastly, the post-drome phase occurs after the attack. You may feel drained and washed out, while some people feel elated. For about 24 hours, you may also experience; confusion, moodiness, dizziness, weakness and/or sensitivity to light & sound.
Migraines may progress through the four stages listed above, though you may not experience all stages or even a portion of them. Each of these symptoms usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes and lasts for 20 to 60 minutes. The experience is unique for each person. Aside from the severe head pain that generally has throbbing or pulsating peaks, often on one side of the head, the most common symptom migraine sufferers are hit with, is nausea and vomiting.
Nausea tends to impact about 80 percent of people who experience migraines, while about half succumb to vomiting, both generally towards the latter end of the migraine attack. Other migraine symptoms that are most common include sensitivity to light or sound, as well as clamminess and light-headedness. Some of the most common migraine symptoms are:
- Throbbing and pulsing pain
- Light sensitivity
- Fatigue / Malaise
- Sound sensitivity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Pain on one side or the other, or even on the top of the head
- Food cravings or loss of appetite
- Vision changes
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Migraine aura
- Hot or cold flashes
Understanding which of your symptoms are associated with your migraines is important, as-is understanding the migraine causes that will start or cause your migraine to get going or to steamroll.
Do you go through the stages listed above, or do your migraine symptoms vary from those listed?