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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: Although migraine pain usually appears on one side of the head, 30%-40% of migraines occur on both sides. Throbbing pain may be present. More than 80% of migraineurs feel nauseated, and some vomit. About 70% become sensitive to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia). 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

Headaches, Migraines, and Nausea

Migraines are often accompanied by stomach problems. In fact, eight out of every 10 people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with migraines report that their headaches cause nausea. Migraines are the type of headache most likely to make you nauseated. There are, though, other causes of head pain that can also result in an upset stomach. It's important to consult a doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor can determine the cause and the appropriate treatment for your headaches and nausea.

Read the Headaches, Migraines, and Nausea article > >

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on April 19, 2012
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