4 Stages of Migraine That You May Not Know About

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Update Date 03/09/2020 . 3 mins read

Ask any individual who suffers from migraine attacks, and you will most likely hear that they can never really predict its occurrence. But what they can tell you is that migraines often occur in varying stages. And it is important to understand what entails each of these stages to seek effective treatment. With that, here are the four main stages of a migraine attack, fleshed out in detail.

 

Prodrome

The calm before the storm, prodrome is the pre-migraine stage that is experienced before a migraine attack occurs. The symptoms of a prodome stage can last for several hours, or even several days at a time. The duration in which these symptoms last varies for each individual. However, it is important to note that the prodrome stage does not necessarily occur before every migraine attack. 

Prodome symptoms include mood changes, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, insomnia, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea. It may also include muscle stiffness, which usually occurs in the neck and shoulders. 

Significant changes in mood for migraine sufferers range from being unusually energetic to depression, irritability, and loss of focus. Other symptoms which are unique to the prodrome stage of a migraine include sleepiness accompanied by frequent yawning, thirstiness, food cravings, and frequent urination.

 

Aura

Almost one-third of all individuals who suffer from migraine experience aura as a progression stage of an attack. Similar to the prodrome stage, aura does not necessarily occur before every migraine attack. Symptoms of this stage gradually evolve over a minimum of five minutes, and can sometimes last for up to 60 minutes at a time. For approximately 20% of individuals who suffer from migraines, however, aura may last for longer than 60 minutes. Apart from that, aura may not precede the headache stage for certain individuals, but occur only after the headache has started.

This migraine stage is associated with most neurological symptoms, hence its moniker, “aura”. For some, changes in the cortex area of the brain can result in changes in their vision, such as dark or coloured spots, sparkles or “stars”, and zigzag lines. A tingling sensation in your fingers, physical weakness, dizziness or vertigo can also occur as well. Additionally, speech and hearing can also be affected, apart from memory changes and a general sense of paranoia and confusion.

 

Headache

The focal point of a migraine attack, headache is associated with pain on either or both sides of the head. This stage typically can last for a period of several hours up to a maximum of three days. The levels of pain experienced can vary in nature, with some headaches being mildly painful, while others can be excruciatingly painful. Additionally, the pain experienced can be throbbing, and will only be made worse with movement. 

During this stage, pain can shift between either sides of the head. However, pain is not the only symptom that you may experience during this stage of a migraine attack. In fact, this could also be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, inability to sleep, anxiety, and sensitivity to light, sound and smell. Even everyday activities may aggravate individuals suffering from migraines, this includes turning on the lights or performing physical exercise. Therefore, it is recommended that one remains in a complete state of relaxation without physically exerting the body when migraine attacks take place.

 

Postdrome

Also dubbed as the post-migraine “hangover”, the postdrome stage of a migraine attack typically occurs at the end of the headache phase. Much like prodrome and aura, not all individuals with migraine suffer from postdrome. However, it does occur in approximately 80% of migraine sufferers. The length of this stage varies from each individual, but usually lasts for a maximum of 24 hours. 

Symptoms of postdrome include fatigue, body aches, difficulty concentrating, dizziness and sensitivity to light. Interestingly enough, certain individuals can also experience “mirror symptoms”. These symptoms refer to those which are the exact opposite of symptoms experienced previously. For example, an individual who experiences loss of appetite during prodrome is more likely to be constantly hungry during postdrome. Alternatively, an individual who has previously experienced fatigue could most likely be brimming with energy during this stage.

 

In conclusion, it is vital that individuals suffering from migraine thoroughly understand each stage of its attacks. This awareness allows for incorporation of suitable treatment options to reduce the severity of said headache. In some cases, it could even completely prevent the occurrence of a migraine attack.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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