Migraine Signs & Symptoms

By John Lindell

  • Overview

    Migraines are potentially disabling headaches that are capable of producing severe pain. There are a number of symptoms that can come with a migraine headache and they differ from one person to the next. Migraines are more common in women than in men by a more than two-to-one ratio. Migraine symptoms are not limited to the pain of a headache and can affect other parts of the body. Migraines in many instances can be divided into four specific segments that come with their own signs and symptoms.
  • Prodome

    Some migraine sufferers will have what is called a prodome before the actual migraine occurs. During this phase of the migraine the person will actually have the feeling that a migraine is on its way and develop certain symptoms that alert them to this fact. They may have a craving for a certain food, become constipated, experience mood changes or become suddenly fatigued among other signs of an oncoming migraine. The prodome allows some migraine sufferers the opportunity to seek treatment for the condition to lessen its effects. The typical prodome will come hours or as much as a day before the headache arrives.
  • Auras

    One of the most frightening parts of a migraine can be the aura. While all people who experience migraines do not have these auras, there are many that do. The aura will usually arrive 15 to 30 minutes before the headache and can include such symptoms as smelling things that are not present and seeing flashing lights and distorted and wavy lines in the field of vision. The vision of someone during an aura can become blurred, and they can lose sight partially or have a blind spot develop in one or both eyes.


  • More aura symptoms

    In addition to sight and smell symptoms, auras can also cause someone to actually hear things that are not there. People in the midst of an aura can be confused and dizzy, and some will even find it impossible to speak or find the right words when they try to talk. The face and sides of the head can begin to tingle and feel numb. This tingling can extend to the arms and legs, and in some types of migraines a partial paralysis is possible. Being overly sensitive to touch and having trouble hearing are also signs of a migraine's aura.
  • Headache pain

    The pain will range anywhere between moderate to severe and can be on both sides of a person's head or just on one. This pain will feel as if it is making the head throb and it will pulsate until the migraine ends. If someone with a migraine attempts to do even a simple task, he will find that the pain gets much worse. Migraine pain can become so extreme that it makes it difficult to do anything while the headache is occurring. In addition to the headache there can be fever, chills, hot flashes, nausea and vomiting.
  • Postdrome

    It takes most migraine sufferers hours to recover from an attack; some even require several days. This period is known as the postdrome, and it leaves the person feeling as if she is hung over. One of the symptoms of a postdrome is depression, while a feeling of euphoria is possible as well. During this phase, some people may be very tired and find it difficult to concentrate.
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