Migraines affect millions of people every year. They’re more than a bad headache. Migraines are marked by throbbing, pulsating pain, typically on one side of the head, plus extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Sufferers also often experience nausea and vomiting.
If you’ve been diagnosed with migraines and have medication to control your symptoms, it helps to understand the signs that a migraine attack is coming. That way, you can be sure your medication or other treatment method is nearby.
It’s important to note that not everyone experiences even one of these signs, much less all of them. In addition, the best way to recognize the signs that a migraine is imminent is to pay attention to your body. You may be able to recognize your own unique signs and, again, keep your remedy handy.
The Stages of a Migraine
Not everyone’s migraine experience is the same, but these are the basic stages that you may experience.
The first stage of a migraine is the prodrome. This is when you might notice those first subtle signs of a migraine, such as mood changes.
Next is what is known as aura, which are nervous system disturbances. Aura may manifest as visual phenomena, such as light flashes and wavy vision, or as changes in your sense of touch or weakening of the muscles. The majority of migraine sufferers do not experience aura.
Third is the actual migraine attack, which can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Frequency and severity vary according to each person. You may feel a throbbing, pulsating pain on one side of your head or on both sides. Other symptoms included blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, and feeling faint or light-headed.
The final stage is called post-drome. It lasts for around 24 hours after the attack ends. You could feel wiped out, confused, moody, elated, weak, dizzy, or still be sensitive to harsh lights and sounds.
Common Signs You’re about to Have a Migraine
Not everyone has the same signs, or even any signs that a migraine is coming. But the following are the most common indications that a migraine is coming.
Stage two is named for this fairly common migraine sign. Auras are typically visual and may present as spots, lines, or flickering lights. They last from five minutes to an hour, and there may be an hour between when the auras end and the migraine begins. Patients may experience a migraine without aura as well as aura without a migraine.
2. Food Cravings
Some people experience strong food cravings, particularly chocolate.
3. Stuffy Nose
You may experience a variety of sinus issues, including tearing, stuffy nose, and clear drainage.
4. Neck Pain
Pain or stiffness in the neck are also common signs that a migraine is on the way. Around a third of migraine sufferers experience neck pain.
5. Mood Changes
Suddenly feeling sad or depressed is common, as is feeling unexpectedly happy. Patients with depression are also more likely to experience migraines.
6. Frequent Yawning
This isn’t the kind of yawning that occurs when you’re tired. As a migraine predecessor, yawning is frequent – occurring every few minutes – and not connected to sleepiness.
7. Needing to Pee Frequently
The need to urinate more often than usual is another sign. It may begin a full two days before the attack or only an hour or two.
8. Pulsating Pain
Throbbing pain on one side of the head is common, with around half of migraine patients reporting this.
9. Still Feeling Tired when You Wake
There is a link between sleeping poorly and experiencing migraines. It can become a painful cycle, where lack of sleep causes migraines and then the pain of the migraine makes it hard to fall asleep.
Over two-thirds of migraine patients experience nausea during a migraine, but it’s also a common indicator that a migraine is on the way.
11. Tingling or Numbness
You may experience tingling or numbness that starts in your fingertips and moves up through your arm and into the face. Typically, it affects only one side of the body.
12. Eye Pain
Pain behind your eye is both a common sign that a migraine is coming and where migraine pain often centralizes.
13. Speech Difficulties
Difficulty speaking is another common sign of migraines. However, if you have a headache accompanied by difficulty speaking and you’ve never experienced that symptom before, call your doctor right away. This is also a common indicator of a stroke.
14. Weakness on Your Right or Left Side
This is also both a common sign of a migraine and a common symptom of a stroke. It’s another example of why it’s important to understand your own body. If you experience this but your arms don’t normally feel weak or limp when you get a migraine, call your doctor right away.
15. Sights, Sounds, or Scents Trigger Pain
Bright lights and loud noises are common migraine triggers. For some sufferers, certain odors also present a risk.
16. Dizziness or Double Vision
This sign is more common with a basilar-type migraine. It typically indicates a strong migraine.
When Is it Time to See a Doctor?
Migraines are common, but many people never see their doctor. If you have migraines regularly, it’s worth talking to your doctor to devise a treatment. And, if you ever have a sudden, severe headache, call your doctor immediately. You may be having a stroke. You should also talk to your doctor if you experience a change in your migraines.
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