Migraine Symptoms

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Migraine is a severe form of headache that is felt as an intense pain in the front or side of the head, although the location of the pain may change during an attack of migraine. The pain usually worsens on exposure to light, sound or even when a person tries to move.

Some of the symptoms of migraine include:

  • Severe throbbing headache in the front or one side of the head
  • Increased sensitivity to light or photophobia. Migraine sufferers often need to rest in a quiet, dark room during an attack.
  • Increased sensitivity to sound or phonophobia which can also be eased by resting in a dark and quiet room.
  • Increased sensitivity to smell or osmophobia.
  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • Concentration may be poor
  • Increased sweating and hot flashes
  • Abdominal pain that may lead to diarrhea
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Aura – Nearly one third of all migraine sufferers experience aura or warning signs before their migraine starts. There are various types of aura and they begin around 15 minutes to one hour before an attack. Examples of auras that people may experience include:
    • Visual disturbances such as seeing zig-zag patterns, flashes of light or blind spots
    • Dizziness or difficulty balancing
    • A pins and needles sensation or stiffness in the neck, shoulder or jaw
    • Speech may become slurred and unintelligible
    • In rare cases, a person may lose consciousness

The symptoms of migraine can last from 4 to 72 hours but not all symptoms are seen in all individuals. In most cases, the symptoms disappear when the headache subsides, although weakness and fatigue may persist for about a week after the attack has passed.

Some people also develop silent migraines, characterized by the presence of aura and other migraine symptoms such as nausea and vomiting but without the development of an actual headache.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: Mar 26, 2014

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