What Are Migraine Symptoms?

May 22, 2023

Migraine is a type of neurological condition that is often associated with severe, throbbing headaches. Roughly 10% of people globally suffer from migraines. People between 20 to 50 years are most impacted and migraines are about 3 times more common in women than in men. In a large US survey, 17.1% of women and 5.6% of men reported having migraine symptoms.

However, migraines are not just headaches.  Learning about the stages and symptoms can help you understand what migraines are and how they affect you.

Migraine Stages and Associated Migraine Symptoms 

Migraine headaches typically come in four stages: prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome. Each of these has its own symptoms.

Prodrome Migraine Symptoms

Prodrome—the hours or days before the headache—is the first stage of a migraine. Not everyone experiences this phase, but if you do, you might notice:

  • Difficulty focusing on tasks
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty talking or reading
  • Sleeplessness or frequent yawning
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises
  • Frequent urination
  • Tight muscles

Migraine Aura Symptoms

You may feel an aura immediately before or during the migraine's onset. Auras often cause temporarily blurred or impacted vision. Many migraine sufferers feel out of sorts after an aura, but they are relatively harmless.

Migraine Headache Symptoms

Headache is the most noticeable phase of a migraine. The pain usually starts mild, often on one side of the head, but will gradually intensify and may spread to both sides of the head. You may experience other symptoms:

  • Neck soreness or stiffness
  • Increased depression or anxiousness
  • Intense reactions to lights, sounds, and odors
  • Congestion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting

Migraine Postdrome Symptoms

Postdrome is the final stage and is the period following the headache’s subsidence. A day or two after your headache fades, you may experience residual symptoms like trouble concentrating or heightened emotions. This is entirely normal, and you should be back to your status quo before long.

What Causes Migraines?

Researchers still do not wholly understand headaches but believe migraines are caused by many variables like high stress levels, dietary habits, and nutrient deficiencies. Identifying the cause of your migraines can help you take the steps you need to find relief.

When to see a Doctor?

Do you suffer from frequent headaches or migraine symptoms? In that case, doctors can usually help you identify the type of headache and assess whether it is a primary condition, wherein the headaches or migraines are the condition itself, or a secondary disorder, where they are a symptom of an underlying ailment. Your doctor may also refer you to a provider who specializes in headaches.

It is usually easier to identify headache type and causation if you track your headaches. If possible, note the date, time of symptom onset, and duration of each episode. Your doctor may identify triggers if you include specific details like what you do or eat before symptom onset. Recognizing the individual migraine stages can facilitate more individualized insights.

What Are Migraine Treatments?

Migraines are treated in three ways: prescription medication, over-the-counter painkillers, and nutrient supplementation. The first two are typically abortive treatments, employed after a migraine begins, while supplementation is a preventative option. Each option has its time and place. However, supplementation along with healthy lifestyle including diet, exercise and stress management may decrease or eliminate your reliance on prescription medications.

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