What is a Migraine?
Migraines are severe headaches that can cause a pounding or pulsating pain in the
head. They often occur with nausea and vomiting and sensitivity to lights or sounds. Some people may experience migraine headaches that can last for days. A migraine is a headache with pain so severe that it interferes with normal activities. They can happen in stages that include prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Not everyone who experiences migraines experiences all the stages. No one knows the causes of migraines, but some have found certain things that can trigger the headaches, including certain food & drinks, stress, hormonal changes, overstimulation of senses, overexertion, changes in the weather, and certain medications (especially those that affect hormones).
What are Migraine Symptoms?
The various stages of migraines have different symptoms. Not all who suffer from
migraines experience all stages, or all the symptoms during each stage.
The prodrome stage can happen one – two days prior to the migraine, and all of the symptoms are subtle.
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
- Increased thirst and urination
- Frequent yawning
Some people may experience an aura stage just before, or even during migraines. Auras usually begin gradually, building over the course of an hour. They are often visual, but can also include other nervous system phenomena. Some examples of aura include:
- Seeing bright spots, flashes, or shapes
- Temporary vision loss
- Tingling sensation in arms or legs
(pins and needles)
- Trouble speaking
- Hearing noises or music
- Uncontrollable movements, such as jerking
Untreated migraines can last for several hours up to several days and are often recurring events. The symptoms of a migraine are:
- Hypersensitivity to light, sound, smell, or touch
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain that can be described as pounding or pulsating
- Pain on either one side or both sides of the head
Often, after a migraine, people will feel exhausted, confused, and unable to function normally for the rest of the day. Though some people report feeling elated or euphoric. Sometimes, sudden movements can cause sudden pain.
Are There Certain Pediatric Symptoms & Concerns?
Migraine headaches often onset during childhood or adolescence and are 3x more
common in females after puberty. Incidences of migraines increase as children age, from 3% of children in preschool up to 15% of high school students. As children age, migraines will begin to occur earlier during the day. Some children will experience “complicated migraines” which have additional symptoms, sometimes neurological, like those listed above, and can include vertigo, pain or numbness at the base of the skull, weakness on one side of the body, or a muscle contraction on the side of the neck that can cause the head to tilt to one side. Migraine triggers in children can be the same as those for adults.
Do I Need to Come to the ER for a Migraine?
Regular migraines can usually be managed with help from your primary care physician. Sometimes, more severe medical problems might seem to be migraine symptoms. Symptoms that require immediate attention include:
- Sudden, severe headache that could be described as a thunderclap
- Headache accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking
- Headache that occurs after a head injury – especially if the pain worsens over time
- A chronic headache that worsens with coughing, exertion, straining, or sudden movement
- New recurring headaches after the age of 50
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, visit your nearest Neighbors
I was called back very quickly. Everyone was so kind and fast. They even wheeled me all the way out to my car.– Ronnie