Stages of a Migraine
Migraines have symptoms that can change throughout the day or even over a period of several days. The severity and/or occurrence of symptoms can also change. Migraines normally move through stages. It is important to note that not every individual experiencing a migraine reaches each stage. There are 4 migraine stages: prodromal, aura, attack and postdromal.
This is the phase that occurs prior to the migraine and can give early warning signs. Individuals may feel energetic, excited, depressed, irritable, thirsty, sleepy, or tired. A craving for certain foods and the urge to urinate frequently may also be present.
Although an aura may not be present with each migraine or for ever individual, approximately one-third to one-fourth of those experiencing migraines experience an aura. An aura includes changes in vision, such as:
- A complicated flickering or arc of light. This can increase in size and may appear on the left or right side of the vision.
- A blind spot that may interfere with the field of vision and may occur with flickering lights. This can cause complications when driving or focusing on small objects.
- Hallucinations can occur or an image that does not exist may be seen.
Other symptoms that may occur during an aura include, but are not limited to:
- Skin sensations may occur. The individual may feel tingling or numbness. These generally occur in the area of the face or hands but it can spread throughout the body. This feeling may increase abruptly.
- Language problems may occur that include: problems expressing thoughts when speaking, not being able to understand spoken or written words, confusion, and/or trouble concentrating.
This is the phase in which the migraine headache begins. A migraine can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Normal activities are typically limited during this time. Pain may begin above the eyes. Although this pain can affect the entire head, it most commonly affects only one side. It can move from one side to the other and can also affect the lower face, jaw, teeth, and back of the neck. The pain is usually throbbing and may increase during physical activity or if leaning forward. Individuals may experience symptoms such as: lightheadness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and sensitivity to scent, sensitivity during the attack phase.
This is the phase that occurs after the migraine. An uneasy feeling may be felt up to 24 hours after a migraine attack. An individual may experience extreme tiredness, confusion, or continued head pain when moving quickly.