Skip to content

    Migraines & Headaches Health Center

    Select An Article

    What Is Status Migrainosus?

    Font Size

    Migraines are a type of headache that tend to cause other symptoms, too, such as nausea and vision problems. They can last for a few hours to a few days. But a migraine that lasts for more than 72 hours is called status migrainosus. To treat it, you may need to go to the hospital to get help relieving the pain and dehydration from vomiting.

    A typical migraine can sometimes turn into status migrainosus if:

    Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

    Alternative Treatments for Tension Headaches

    When a tension headache strikes, most people head for their medicine cabinet or drugstore, looking for an over-the-counter painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. But if you get them often, that plan can backfire. “Frequent use of these drugs can cause rebound headaches,” says Priyanka Chaudhry, MD of the Baylor Neuroscience Center Headache Center. There can also be side effects, as with any medicine. Taking too much acetaminophen is bad for your liver, and overdoing ibuprofen can upset...

    Read the Alternative Treatments for Tension Headaches article > >

    • You don’t get treatment early enough after the attack starts.
    • You don’t get the right treatment.
    • You use too much headache medicine.


    The warning signs of status migrainosus are similar to those of a typical migraine. Along with pain in your head, you might also feel:

    • Sensation of sparkling lights or other vision changes (aura)
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Trouble thinking clearly

    Because the condition lasts for at least 3 days, you’re also at risk for dehydration and sleep loss because of prolonged vomiting and pain.


    If you have to go to an emergency room or stay in the hospital because of status migrainosus, doctors may need to treat other problems the migraine causes as well as the migraine itself.

    In the hospital, doctors may give you drugs through an IV to control pain. They'll treat dehydration by giving you fluids through an IV.

    Drugs that stop vomiting include:

    A common medicine for halting status migrainosus is dihydroergotamine (DHE-45, Migranal). You can take it as a nasal spray or through a shot. Another drug, sumatriptan, comes as a shot, nasal spray, pill, or skin patch.

    People with blood vessel problems should avoid these drugs, though.

    The corticosteroids dexamethasone (DecadronDexamethasone IntensolDexpak) and prednisolone can also relieve status migrainosus.

    Migraine Prevention

    If you get migraines often, you may want to take medicines to prevent them. The drugs may not completely keep your headaches away, but they may help you have fewer attacks that can turn into status migrainosus.

    These medications include:

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on November 21, 2014
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Business woman with hand on face and eyes closed
    What aura looks like, triggers, and more.
    woman with migraine
    Get the truth about migraines.
    headache in the bedroom
    Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
    woman with hands on head
    Test your knowledge of triggers, types, and more.
    woman with migraine
    drinking coffee
    Migraines Headaches Basics
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Tired young man
    spraying perfume
    man with a headache
    headache in the bedroom