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What Happens During a Migraine?

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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

Understanding Migraine -- Symptoms

The symptoms of migraines include: A brief period of depression, irritability, anxiety, moodiness, and decreased appetite as much as 24 hours before the onset of a headache Symptoms of an aura an hour or less before head pain starts A severe, throbbing headache, sometimes concentrated on only one side of the head or around one eye lasting between four and 72 hours A headache that worsens with exertion Nausea and vomiting Extreme sensitivity to light, so painful to t...

Read the Understanding Migraine -- Symptoms article > >

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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