Migraines have a wide range of symptoms that usually follow a pattern based on the migraine cycle. Migraine symptoms have four basic phases: Prodromal, Aura, Headache, and Resolution and Recovery. Every migraine sufferer is affected differently by migraines, and each individual reports differing degrees of pain and discomfort. Also, different types of migraines have different symptoms which help diagnose the specific type of migraine that occurs. Despite the vast differences between symptoms, there are some commonalities such as most migraines only affect one side of the brain, although the affected side can change from attack to attack. The following is a list of some of the common migraine symptoms broken up by stage.
Prodromal Phase of a Migraine Symptom
In this first stage of a migraine symptom is often hard to detect before a migraine progresses to the next level, migraine sufferers may begin to feel drowsy or in some cases, may have the opposite reaction and feel euphoric and full of energy. Other common prodromal migraine symptoms include irritability, depression, thirst, and a craving for sweets. These feeling may happens hours or even days before the actual migraine attack begins.
Aura Phase of a Migraine Symptom
This stage of the migraine symptom is unique to the individual although not all migraines have this pre-headache stage. For the experienced migraine sufferer, the aura is the true telltale sign of what is about to happen. As the stage name indicates, it is associated with symptoms of visual aura or optical illusions, such as flashes of light in the form of jagged lines or zig-zag shapes accompanied with a blindspot or hole in the vision field that slowly spread. Some migraine sufferers in this stage feel a tingling (pins and needles) sensation on the arms and hands. Some other common symptoms of this stage include auditory hallucinations and strange tastes and/or smells. For many, this stage also brings about communication impairment or weakness, losing the ability to articulate or even comprehend what is being said. For obvious reasons, sufferers lose their ability to function normally in this aura phase of the migraine. This stage typically takes place approximately half an hour before the headache stage, although some migraine sufferers experience the aura stage without the accompanying headache.
Headache Phase of a Migraine Symptom
The third stage is the most familiar of all migraine symptoms, although some migraine sufferers don’t experience this stage at all. The pain is best describes as pulsating or throbbing, and is usually only on one side of the brain. Sometimes the source of the pain is believed to be at the back of the head, around the eye socket or in the temple. Any movement causes increased levels of pain and the sufferer will often feel disoriented, dizzy and very sensitive to light. Nausea followed by vomiting is another common symptom in the headache stage, as are cold extremities (hands and feet) and facial pallor. A typical headache stage can last from one hour to several days. The only relief is to lie in a dark quiet room and try to sleep.
Resolution and Recovery Phase of a Migraine Symptom
This phase is obviously the most welcome of the four migraine symptoms. Exhaustion is the most common symptom, which is resolved by hours of sleep in a dark room. The length of this phase depends on the individual, and can last from a couple hours to several days depending on the severity of the migraine.