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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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What Kind of Migraine Is It?

Early Migraine Signs

About 1 in 4 people get a clue (called a prodrome) that a migraine is imminent. Signs include:

  • Mood changes, excitability, irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue and yawning
  • Muscle tension

Signs may occur as early as 1 or 2 days before the headache. Practice recognizing early signs. Your efforts may help you abort a headache.

Vision Problems: Ocular Migraine

Often, temporary vision loss or distortion in one eye occurs with ocular migraines. Ocular migraines are usually harmless. They last a few minutes, then normal vision returns.  However, other serious conditions can cause sudden loss of vision in one eye, so see a doctor immediately if you have vision changes.

Dizziness: Vertigo and Migraine

Some people who get migraines also have dizziness and vertigo. Be sure to talk with your doctor about it.

Dizziness from migraines may make you feel lightheaded or unsteady. Vertigo makes you feel as if the room is spinning. It's often related to changes in your inner ear. Vertigo is more common in people who have migraines with aura or basilar migraine.

Muscle Weakness: Hemiplegic Migraine

It's rare, but some people get a type of migraine that causes severe muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. It's called a hemiplegic migraine. Symptoms are very similar to a stroke but cause no permanent nerve damage. 

Still, don't diagnose yourself! If you have symptoms of hemiplegic migraine, get immediate medical help to rule out stroke.

Ongoing Pain: Status Migrainosus

Don't try to endure a seemingly unending migraine. Ongoing pain -- pain that lasts longer than 3 days -- is a trait of status migrainosus. It can be caused by some medications or medication withdrawal.

The pain and nausea from this type of migraine can be so intense that you may need hospital care. So don't suffer long-lasting migraine without help. Seek medical care.

'Numb Eye' Migraine

If you have pain and weakness around your eye, you need medical help. Rare symptoms like these may be due to ophthalmoplegic migraine -- what's now known as a neuralgia -- or a more serious condition. Ophthalmoplegic migraines often last a week and may cause a droopy eyelid, double vision, and other eye changes.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if you have the following migraine symptoms:

  • A change in frequency, severity, or features from your usual migraine
  • A headache that lasts for days, getting progressively worse
  • A headache brought on by coughing, sneezing, bearing down, or straining while on the toilet
  • Weakness or paralysis

Emergency Symptoms

Go to a hospital emergency department if you have any of the following:

  • The worst headache ever, especially if the headache came on very quickly
  • Headache associated with head injury
  • Head injury with loss of consciousness
  • Fever or stiff neck with a headache
  • Decreased level of consciousness or confusion
  • Paralysis or weakness of one side of the body
  • Seizure
  • Loss of vision

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on March 31, 2014

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