The symptoms of migraines can vary according to the type and the individual. Migraine attacks can be excruciating, and they can affect your everyday life.
Head pain is the most common migraine symptom. It can be described as a throbbing, pulsating, or intense sensation. This may occur on either side of your head.
These are the most common migraine symptoms, in addition to headaches:
- Photophobia is a light sensitivity that causes the victim to want to hide in a dark place during an attack.
- Noise sensitivity or phonophobia can be unbearable.
- Allodynia is a touch hypersensitivity that causes pain when touched gently, like brushing your hair or touching your face to a pillowcase.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Aura symptoms
- Neck stiffness or pain
- Brain Fog or difficulties concentrating, remembering, or performing mental tasks
- Light-headedness is also known as dizziness or vertigo.
- Depression or anxiety
- Tinnitus or Ringing of the ears?
- Tearing of the Eyes
- Sinus Pain
- Aversion to smells
Other migraine symptoms are less common or less frequently reported.
- Cold hands or feet
- Difficulty in speaking clearly
- Understanding written or spoken information difficult
- Facial swelling
- Food cravings
- Frequent Urination
- Increased thirst
- Jaw pain
- Night sweats
- Numbness and tingling of the feet, hands, or face
- Physical Weakness
- Smelling unpleasant odors that aren’t there
- Stuffy nose
There are four distinct stages of migraine attacks, each with slightly different symptoms.
Warning or Prodromes You might notice the first symptoms of a migraine two or three days before you experience aura symptoms or Headache. Early warning symptoms include mood changes, cravings for specific foods, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity or soundness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, yawning, and frequent urine.
Aura stage Up to one-third of people will experience an aura lasting from five minutes to an entire hour. The intensity increases over time. Aura can include bright spots, light patterns, numbness, and tingling throughout the body.
Headache Phase Pain can occur during the headache stage, lasting several hours or up to three days. The pain can start on one side and spread to both sides. This phase of a migraine attack may include nausea, vomiting, and blurred vision. It can also be accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound. In this phase, people tend to seek a dark, quiet room to sleep or rest.
The Postdrome or Hangover Stage Fatigue and body aches can occur in the final phase of a headache attack. You may find it challenging to concentrate and still be hypersensitive.
Even those who experience migraine attacks regularly may not experience the four stages.
Find out more about the signs and symptoms of migraines.
What are the causes and risk factors of Migraines?
It is still unknown what causes migraines. Genetic and environmental factors play a part.
Studies link migraines to changes in the brain stem, the trigeminal nervous system, and the nerves that mediate pain.
A chemical imbalance in the brain could also be at play. Anxiety and Depression are long associated with Migraines. A study published in Headache showed that the frequency of migraine attacks was related to the severity of anxiety and Depression. The more frequent the attacks, the greater the likelihood of Depression or anxiety.
Researchers have found that levels of serotonin decrease during migraine attacks. This causes the trigeminal nerve system to release neuropeptides which cause headaches.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a change in weather or barometric pressure, which can lead to imbalances in brain chemicals, could trigger a migraine.
Researchers have identified several risk factors that can lead to migraines, including:
Does Migraine run in the family?
Studies have shown that Migraine is strongly genetic, but which genes are involved or how they pass on is unknown.
Specific gene mutations have been identified as the cause of some rare migraines, like familial hemiplegic Headaches. For most migraine types, however, several genes may increase the risk of a migraine.
Knowing that you have a migraine family history can help for many reasons. It may allow you to get a more accurate diagnosis and feel validated in your experience with the condition.
What is the impact of age on risk?
According to Mayo Clinic’s research, migraine sufferers often experience symptoms in adolescence. Most migraineurs have their first migraine attack before the age of 40. Depending on other factors, Migraines can begin at any age, even in childhood or infancy.
What about gender?
Cleveland Clinic states migraines are more common in boys than girls during childhood. However, this pattern reverses itself by adolescence. Women are more likely to suffer from migraines in adulthood than men. The hormone changes, particularly estrogen, may play a part.
Other women report that hormone medications, such as contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, reduce the frequency of migraine headaches.
Menstruation and Menopause
Women who suffer from migraines often have attacks just before or after their period. This is when the estrogen drops.
It is possible that the frequency, severity, and duration of migraines can change during menopause or pregnancy. Some women experience their first Migraine during pregnancy. Others report their attacks getting worse.
Some women who suffer from Migraines may be affected by hormonal fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone. Some women experience fewer migraines and more severe ones after menopause as their hormone levels become more stable.