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What Happens During a Migraine?

Migraine Headache Symptoms

Symptoms vary from person to person and from migraine to migraine. Five phases can often be identified:

  • Prodrome: A variety of warnings can come before a migraine. These may consist of a change in mood (for example, feeling "high," irritable, or depressed) or a subtle change of sensation (for example, a funny taste or smell). Fatigue and muscle tension are also common.
  • Aura: This is commonly a visual disturbance that precedes the headache phase. Some migraine sufferers develop blind spots (called scotomas); see geometric patterns or flashing, colorful lights; or lose vision on one side (hemianopsia).
  • Headache: Migraine pain usually appears on one side of the head. Sometimes migraines occur on both sides. Throbbing pain may be present. Most people with migraines feel nauseated, and some vomit. Most also become sensitive to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia) during a migraine.This phase may last 4-72 hours.
  • Headache termination: Even if untreated, the pain usually goes away with sleep.
  • Postdrome: Other signs of the migraine (for example, inability to eat, problems with concentration, or fatigue) may linger after the pain has disappeared.

 

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Migraine or Sinus Headache?

Headache pain along with a stuffy, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Sounds like a sinus headache, right? Think again. More than 4 out of 5 people who think they have a sinus headache with symptoms like pain in the head, stuffy nose, and watery eyes actually have migraine headaches. "It's such a widespread misconception," says neurology professor Peter Goadsby, MD, who heads the University of California, San Francisco's headache program. "It's the size of the problem that stuns me." Here's...

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WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 11, 2014
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