A migraine is much more than a bad headache. This neurological disease can cause debilitating throbbing pain that can leave you in bed for days! Movement, light, sound and other triggers may cause symptoms like pain, tiredness, nausea, visual disturbances, numbness and tingling, irritability, difficulty speaking, temporary loss of vision and many more.
What’s a migraine?
A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that it’s the sixth most disabling disease in the world.
What are the types of headaches?
- Migraine without aura (common migraine): This type of migraine headache strikes without the warning an aura may give you. The symptoms are the same, but that phase doesn’t happen.
- Migraine without head pain: “Silent migraine” or “acephalgic migraine,” as this type is also known as, includes the aura symptom but not the headache that typically follows.
- Hemiplegic migraine: You’ll have temporary paralysis (hemiplegia) or neurological or sensory changes on one side of your body. The onset of the headache may be associated with temporary numbness, extreme weakness on one side of your body, a tingling sensation, a loss of sensation and dizziness or vision changes. Sometimes it includes head pain and sometimes it doesn’t.
- Retinal migraine (ocular migraine): You may notice temporary, partial or complete loss of vision in one of your eyes, along with a dull ache behind the eye that may spread to the rest of your head. That vision loss may last a minute, or as long as months. You should always report a retinal migraine to a healthcare provider because it could be a sign of a more serious issue.
- Chronic migraine: A chronic migraine is when a migraine occurs at least 15 days per month. The symptoms may change frequently, and so may the severity of the pain. Those who get chronic migraines might be using headache pain medications more than 10 to 15 days a month and that, unfortunately, can lead to headaches that happen even more frequently.
- Migraine with brainstem aura. With this migraine, you’ll have vertigo, slurred speech, double vision or loss of balance, which occur before the headache. The headache pain may affect the back of your head. These symptoms usually occur suddenly and can be associated with the inability to speak properly, ringing in the ears and vomiting.
- Status migrainosus. This is a rare and severe type of migraine that can last longer than 72 hours. The headache pain and nausea can be extremely bad. Certain medications, or medication withdrawal, can cause you to have this type of migraine.
What are the four stages or phases of a migraine?
The phases are:
- Prodrome:The first stage lasts a few hours, or it can last days. You may or may not experience it as it may not happen every time. Some know it as the “preheadache” or “premonitory” phase.
- Aura:The aura phase can last as long as 60 minutes or as little as five. Most people don’t experience an aura, and some have both the aura and the headache at the same time.
- Headache:About four hours to 72 hours is how long the headache lasts. The word “ache” doesn’t do the pain justice because sometimes it’s mild, but usually, it’s described as drilling, throbbing or you may feel the sensation of an icepick in your head. Typically it starts on one side of your head and then spreads to the other side.
- Postdrome:The postdrome stage goes on for a day or two. It’s often called a migraine “hangover” and 80% of those who have migraines experience it.
It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.