The Signs and Symptoms of Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches can begin during a person’s childhood, adolescence, or their early adulthood. Migraines may progress in severity through four different stages (prodrome, aura, attack, and postdrome). However, this does not necessarily mean you will experience all stages if you get migraines.
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First Stage: Prodrome
A couple of days before getting a migraine, some people may experience some slight alterations that are a characteristic of an upcoming migraine. These can include:
- Food Cravings
- Neck Stiffness
Second Stage: Aura
A lot of migraine sufferers do not experience the aura stage. Auras tend to be visual for most people, but they can also manifest as verbal, sensory, or motor disturbances. These types of migraine symptoms will develop gradually, building up for several minutes, and then lasting anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. The symptoms of auras can include:
- A loss of vision
- Sensations like pins and needles in the arms or legs
- Visual phenomena, like witnessing bright spots, different shapes, or flashes of light
- Language or speech problems
In some other cases, an aura could be associated with other medical complications like aphasia or limb weakness (hemiplegic migraine).
Third Stage: Attack
If left untreated, a migraine could last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, but the frequency with which people experience these migraine headaches can vary from individual to individual. Some people get migraines on a fairly regular basis, while others experience them much less frequently. If you get a migraine attack, then you could be dealing with any of the following symptoms:
- A pulsating or throbbing pain
- Pain that is localized to one side of the head
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Heightened sensitivity to sounds, light, and even some smells
- Feeling light headed and on some occasions fainting
Fourth Stage: Postdrome
Postdrome is the final stage of migraine headaches, and it follows the migraine attack. This final stage can leave you feeling quite spent and lethargic, though in some cases, people have reported feeling slightly euphoric during the postdrome stage.
When to Visit Your Doctor
Migraine headaches often go clinically undiagnosed and untreated. If you are dealing with the signs and symptoms of migraine attacks on a regular basis, then you may want to keep a record of your headaches and how you treated them. This way, you can provide a detailed account of your migraine history to your doctor during your next appointment. They can then help you form a migraine treatment plan.
(Also, be sure that you go see your doctor if the frequency of your headaches start to change, or they start to feel a little different.)
For more information, you should check out these articles on migraine headaches