migraine symptoms

A migraine is a severe headache with throbbing or throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. Distinguishing one from a mere “severe headache” requires understanding the unique symptoms that a migraine can trigger.

In fact, you can go through up to four stages during a migraine attack, each of which can be identified by its own set of symptoms. Knowing the range of symptoms can alert you to whether you’re experiencing a migraine and exactly what stage you’re currently in.

This article explains the four stages of migraine and their associated symptoms. The article also describes symptoms commonly associated with migraine subtypes, potential complications that migraine can cause, and when to see a healthcare provider.

common symptoms

A migraine attack consists of several phases: prodromal, aura, headache, and prodromal. When you have a migraine, you may go through all of these stages, or you may go through one, two, or three of them. The headache phase is the most common, while the aura is the least common.


The prodromal phase is characterized by aura symptoms of an impending migraine. It can start hours or days before a migraine attack reaches its peak intensity. Most people who experience migraines have some prodrome. Taking migraine medication during this stage may stop the progression of the attack. Typical symptoms of this stage are:

  • constipation or diarrhea
  • difficulty concentrating
  • yawning excessively
  • fatigue
  • feel cold
  • fluid retention, bloating
  • food cravings
  • increased urination frequency
  • mood changes including sadness, irritability, or anxiety
  • muscle stiffness or soreness, especially in the neck
  • nausea
  • Sensitivity to light, sound or smell
  • vivid dreams

Word of the Week: Prodrome


About one-third of migraine sufferers experience an aura, which usually lasts less than an hour after the prodromal phase. This stage is characterized by neurological symptoms, and it can be quite scary, especially when you experience it for the first time. Symptoms of migraine aura include:

  • temporary hearing loss
  • Auditory hallucinations (hearing things that are not there)
  • Puzzled
  • Difficulty finding words and/or speaking
  • Olfactory hallucinations (odors that don’t exist)
  • partial paralysis
  • Tingling, numbness, or irritation in the face or extremities
  • Vertigo (feeling that the room is spinning)
  • Vision changes, such as flickering lights, wavy lines, spots, partial vision loss, blind spots, or blurred vision

Overview of Migraine with Aura

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Migraine headaches are often described as throbbing, pounding, or throbbing. You may also experience other symptoms as well as head pain. This phase usually lasts from 4 to 72 hours. Common features of headache stages may include:

  • dehydration or fluid retention
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Migraine (one side of the head) pain that can move to the other side or become bilateral
  • hot flashes or chills
  • stuffy and/or runny nose
  • nausea and vomiting
  • misophonia (sensitivity to sound)
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • sadness or anxiety

pain travel

In addition to the head, migraines can affect the neck, shoulders, arms, and even the entire body. Activities such as walking, driving, or exercising can make symptoms worse.


After the most severe stage of a migraine, you may go through later stages before the migraine attack is completely over. Symptoms of this stage include:

  • concentration problem
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • fatigue
  • mood changes, which may include sadness, anxiety, or elevated mood
  • Muscle pain
  • scalp tenderness
  • stiff neck

Many people describe feeling “zombie-like” during this stage or as if they were having a hangover. Postdrome symptoms may be related to abnormal cerebral blood flow and brain activity for up to 24 hours after the headache phase ends. Even if you don’t experience a headache phase, you may still experience a later phase.

concurrent stage

Migraine phases may overlap, and sometimes the aura phase occurs at the same time as the prodromal, headache, or prodromal phases. Prodromal symptoms may persist even after the headache peaks, while post-prodromal symptoms may begin before the headache begins to subside.

Migraine in children

Children can also experience migraines, and their symptoms may differ from adults. Migraine headaches may be present if your child has the following symptoms, especially if your child has a family history of the disease:

  • Dizziness
  • excessive sleepiness
  • mood swings
  • motion sickness
  • nausea
  • stomach ache

Be sure to discuss these symptoms with your healthcare provider. They may be signs of another disease. But if migraines are the cause, your child can take medicine to help prevent and treat attacks.

When a child has a migraine

uncommon symptoms

Rare symptoms are often associated with migraine subtypes. While similar to migraine aura, the main difference is that these less common symptoms are often the most prominent aspects of a migraine attack:

  • Hemiplegic migraines usually appear as weakness in one arm. If you have hemiplegic migraine, you may also experience several migraine stages and other aura symptoms. There is a strong genetic predisposition to this type of migraine.
  • Stomach pain is a sign of an abdominal migraine. These stomach pains are more common in children than adults, usually have no gastrointestinal cause, and may involve nausea and vomiting.
  • Eye problems such as double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, or a marked inability to move one eye can be a sign of an ophthalmoplegic migraine.

Is it still a migraine when there is no headache?

Complications/subgroup indications

Migraine headaches usually don’t cause complications, although they can. The most common complications are related to drug use.

drug effect

Side effects of overuse may include stomach pain and gastrointestinal bleeding from taking high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other drugs, including triptans and ergot drugs, may cause side effects such as dizziness, tingling, and even vascular complications if taken at higher than directed doses.

Remember that all medicines—whether over-the-counter or prescription—can cause side effects even at recommended doses. Rebound headaches (headaches that occur every day or nearly every day) or withdrawal headaches can occur when you take migraine medication in high doses or for a long time and then stop suddenly.

Medications that cause overuse headaches

Migraine Complications

Complications of migraines themselves include some serious problems that require medical attention:

Migraine state: If you have a migraine that lasts more than 72 hours after treatment, it is called a migraine state. This condition is unlikely to resolve with your regular prescription. Seek medical attention as you may need intravenous (IV) medication.

Migraine Infarction: A cerebral infarction is a type of stroke caused by insufficient blood flow. Migraine infarction begins with migraine symptoms and may eventually involve stroke symptoms and may have permanent neurological effects.

Seizures: Seizures characterized by involuntary shaking or twitching may occur due to migraine headaches. The physiological cause of this complication is unknown.

Migraine Complications

When to see a healthcare provider/go to the hospital

Migraine headaches usually do not require emergency medical attention. However, you should seek medical attention when you are unsure of symptoms or changes in migraine patterns.

emergency medical

Symptoms such as paralysis, sensory loss, communication difficulties, vision loss, and diplopia can all be symptoms of stroke, multiple sclerosis, meningitis, seizures, and other neurological disorders. If you experience any of these rare symptoms and they are not attributed to migraine (or if you are unsure of their connection), Then you should seek medical attention immediately.

Even if you’ve been diagnosed with migraine, you should get a medical evaluation if:

  • falls/unable to maintain balance
  • head trauma
  • Repeated vomiting/unable to control anything
  • Feel like you’re battling the worst headache of your life


Be sure to discuss drug plans with your healthcare provider. If that plan doesn’t work, discuss another plan instead of taking extra medication to treat your migraines.


Migraine headaches include four stages, although you may not experience every stage during your own migraine attack. These stages include prodromal, aura, headache, and prodromal. The headache phase is the most common, while the aura is the least common. The different nature of symptoms makes it a little easier to distinguish one stage from another. If you’re new to migraines, it may be helpful to keep a list of symptoms with you. To give you an idea of ​​the difference, prodromal symptoms often include constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, and sensitivity to light. The aura stage is usually marked by confusion, hallucinations (hearing and smelling), tingling or numbness, or vertigo. During the headache stage, you may experience hot flashes or chills and sensitivity to light or sound. Later stages may trigger dizziness, muscle aches, or a stiff neck.

VigorTip words

The severe pain of a migraine may prompt you to do things you’ve never done before, such as taking supplements or following the advice of a chiropractor, osteopath, or pain management specialist. (If you’re interested, ask your primary care provider for advice.) In the meantime, at the first sign of a migraine, it’s worth trying a relaxation technique: Go to a quiet room and turn off the lights , then lie down on your back. Place a heating pad on your head or neck — a strategy called “thermotherapy.” When you wake up, drink a small (half cup) caffeinated beverage. Caffeine itself is known to relieve emerging migraines.

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