Symptoms of a Migraine

By Victoria Ries

  • Overview

    Migraine is a debilitating condition suffered regularly by millions of people throughout the world. Affecting balance, vision, hearing and speech, migraines make the sufferer sensitive to light and sound. Migraine attacks are usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting, cold hands and feet, and diarrhea. The sufferer may experience a need to sleep off the attack and may slumber for more than 17 hours.
  • Warning

    Premonitory warning symptoms are experienced by an estimated 40 to 60 percent of migraine sufferers before the onset of an attack. Pre-symptoms may include irritability, fatigue, euphoria or cravings for sweet and salty foods. Yawning may be among the pre-symptoms.
  • Types

    Vertebrobasilar migraines affect the lower brain stem function and involve neurological dysfunction involving consciousness and balance, giving rise to symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo.


  • Signs

    Migraine sufferers experience a throbbing, pounding headache that is intense and located around the front or back of the head or the side of the head near the temple. Sufferers may also experience nausea, auditory hallucinations, light distortions and flashes, spots and blind spots.
  • Disorientation

    Migraine attacks sometimes cause the sufferer to see double, have blurred vision or experience sharp, stabbing pains in their heads. Disorientation and sound distortions usually compel the sufferer to lie down in a dark, quiet room where there are no disturbances.
  • Safety

    Migraine attacks may be triggered by flashing lights such as those found at railway crossings and also blinking traffic lights. If experiencing such a migraine attack, pull over at a safe spot and call somebody for help.
  • Time Frame

    Migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours. The sufferer feels absolutely drained after an attack, and rest is recommended in a quiet room.
  • Triggers

    Migraine attacks are often caused by triggers such as cigarette smoke, noxious odors, flashing or bright lights and nitrates such as those found in hot dogs, wine, sausage, ham and bacon. Alcohol is also a trigger, as is aged cheese, monosodium glutamate, aspartame and caffeine. Stress can induce a migraine attack. Eat regular healthy meals because low blood sugar levels may induce a migraine attack.
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