migraine symptoms

Migraines are more than just a headache. They cause intense pain, which may be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances.

Researchers aren?t sure exactly what causes migraines, but factors such as brain chemical imbalances may be involved. Certain foods, drinks, smells, sounds, and environmental changes (such as the weather) can set off a migraine attack.

Migraine symptoms sometimes start a day or two before the actual headache hits. This is called prodrome. These pre-migraine symptoms can include depression, food cravings, irritability, and a stiff neck.

An actual migraine produces a throbbing or pulsing sensation, rather than the typical pain of a headache. Often the pain is in just one part of the head. Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness are other possible migraine symptoms. Some people become so sensitive to light and sound from a migraine that they have to lie down in a dark, quiet room until the headache passes.

Aura is another hallmark migraine symptom. People who experience auras with their migraines describe seeing flashes or spots of light. They may also feel strange sensations, or have trouble speaking.

Migraines typically last for a few hours, but some can continue for a day or two. Triptans are a class of drugs that constrict blood vessels to relieve migraine pain, but they must be taken immediately after the migraine starts to be effective. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help with less severe migraine pain. Medicines such as metoclopramide (Reglan) and prochlorperazine (Compro) help with nausea and vomiting. Beta-blockers, antidepressants, Botox, and anti-seizure drugs can help prevent migraines before they start.

Lifestyle measures like avoiding food triggers, getting enough sleep, and using relaxation techniques may also help prevent migraines. Some people find that keeping a headache diary helps them pinpoint their triggers.

Headache Cures: 9 Strategies to Ease the Pain

Headaches can hit without notice, and multiple types may require different treatments. But there are simple headache cures you can try—strategies to relax tense muscles and stress, both of which can trigger headaches. More complex headache cures include injections you may more commonly associate with cosmetic procedures. There are a … Read More

Ice Pick Headache Signs and Symptoms

An ice pick headache—the type that causes a stabbing pain and usually centers in the temple area or around the eyes—is very rare. For most people, thankfully, it's brief. In 80 percent of ice pick headache sufferers, symptoms last from one to 10 seconds. For those prone to ice pick … Read More

Dehydration Headache: Know the Causes, Signs, and Treatments

What causes dehydration headaches can be as simple as not having consumed sufficient fluids. Likewise, dehydration headaches may happen because lack of fluids causes shrinkage in brain volume. This results in the brain pulling away from the skull, which triggers pain receptors in the meninges (the membrane that surrounds the … Read More

Do Triptans Work for Migraine Headaches?

Triptans are effective for the treatment of migraine headaches, according to one of the most comprehensive review of studies ever published. The findings, based on the results of 133 trials between 1991 and 2012, were reported in a 2015 edition of the journal Headache, the official publication of the American … Read More

Ocular Migraine: Headache or Not, It Can Be Disturbing

What is an ocular migraine? If you're unfamiliar with the term, you might size it up pretty quickly as a severe headache centered in the area of your eyes. You would be partially right. After all, the word “ocular” comes from the Late Latin word ocularis—literally “of the eye”—and dates … Read More

Cluster Headache: How It Happens, How to Treat It

A cluster headache is the "most severe form of primary headache," as the U.S. National Library of Medicine tells us. When you get one, you'll know it, because of the onset of sudden—and painful—headache clusters, usually at the same time of the day and night for several weeks. They typically … Read More

Thunderclap Headache: Consider It a Medical Emergency

Some headaches come on gradually—the average tension headache, for example. Others—like ice pick headaches—are sudden and swift. A thunderclap headache can develop just as quickly as an ice pick headache, but—unlike ice pick headaches, which typically don't last longer than 10 seconds—a thunderclap headache can continue for as long as … Read More

Enter Your Login Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.