If you suffer from migraines then you will be aware of just how debilitating they can be. If you’ve not had a migraine before then chances are that the first time that you do have one you’ll know about it.
If you suffer from migraines then it means that you experience episodes (attacks) of intense pounding headaches that often occur on one side of the head and can leave the sufferer unable to move without severe pain. Migraines can also cause a number of other symptoms and can be suffered in four separate stages.
Stage 1 – The Prodrome
This initial stage of a migraine often acts as a warning stage; it can occur anything from hours to days before the migraine begins. Symptoms are varied but can include mood changes, food cravings, diarrhoea, constipation, increased urination, loss of appetite and fluid retention. Not everyone will experience this stage of the migraine; about 60% of sufferers experience it.
Stage 2 – The Aura
The aura stage of a migraine is experienced by about 20% of migraine sufferers. The symptoms of the aura can be quite frightening and usually last for up to one hour. These symptoms include visual problems like flashing lights or blind spots, problem with coordination or speech and stiffness of or tingling sensations in the neck, shoulders and other limbs. In very severe cases some people have reported partial paralysis and fainting during the aura stage of a migraine.
Stage 3 – The Migraine
The intense headache that you get during a migraine is usually located on one side towards the front of your head. It is a throbbing pain that gets worse when you move and can last from 4 to 72 hours. Usually the onset of the headache is gradual but then turns into a throbbing or pounding headache. As well as the obvious headache there are a number of other symptoms of migraines during this third stage. The pain can be so intense that it often causes feelings of nausea that can then be followed by vomiting. You may also experience increased sensitivity to light, sound and smells. Other associated symptoms that you may encounter are abdominal pain, sweating, eye pain, neck pain, feeling hot or cold, diarrhoea, blurred vision and a need to urinate frequently.
Stage 4 – The Postdrome
The final stage of a migraine is called the postdromal phase. It follows the headache and may last for up to 48 hours. Symptoms that may be experienced during the postdromal stage include tiredness, scalp tenderness, food intolerance, sore muscles and alteration in mood.
Migraines in children
Children like adults can also suffer from migraines, although the attacks that they suffer are often much shorter than those in adults. Children can also experience the aura phase of a migraine but the symptoms could occur at the same time as the headache due to how short their attacks are.
Migraine sufferers should make a note of their symptoms as and when they occur and the order that they occur in. Recognising different symptoms can help your doctor or migraine clinic to understand what is causing your symptoms and how to effectively treat them. It may also enable you to take medication during the early stages of an attack to reduce the full effects of an attack.