Migraines are recurrent episodes that occur as a form of headache accompanied by other neurological symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and vertigo. People with a migraine may also experience extreme sensitivity to light, sound, or movement of the head. These headaches are often debilitating and can last from hours to days. There are over 39 people in the United States who suffer from migraine headaches. Any person can have a migraine at any age, but it is more common in women and during the ages between 30 and 50. Migraine episodes can be so severe that they interfere with the day’s normal activities and cause emotional distress. Some medications may help prevent some migraines from happening or make them less painful.
Migraines are accompanied by several symptoms and can last from a few hours to several days if left untreated. Symptoms include:
- Pain on one or both sides of the head
- Pulsing or throbbing pain in the head
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue or sleepiness
- Low energy
- Neck pain
- Sensory disturbances shortly before onset (aura)
Aura. For some people, an aura happens before a migraine is about to occur or during an episode. An aura can be a visual disturbance, like wavy lines, dots, or flashing lights, or disruption in touch, taste, or smell. An aura usually lasts for 20 to 60 minutes and can present with the following symptoms:
- Trouble speaking
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles in an arm or leg
- Numbness or weakness in the face or on one side of the body
- Hearing noises or music
- Uncontrollable movements (like jerking)
There are several phases to a migraine, but not all phases may be seen in many patients. These include:
First Phase: Prodromal
This can occur hours or days before the actual headache begins.
- Muscle pain
Second Phase: Aura
An abnormal sensation that is felt or seen that signifies a headache is about to start that usually occurs from 20-60 minutes before the headache episode.
Third Phase: Pain
Classically seen as a one-sided headache that is throbbing in nature.
Fourth Phase: Postdromal
When the headache is over certain feelings can last for a few days such as tiredness, difficulty thinking, and soreness.