We know all migraine attacks can be pretty awful. If you are living with migraine, you’ll be all too aware of how painful and debilitating it can be. You’ll also know that migraine is not just a headache.
The most recognisable migraine symptom is usually an intense, throbbing headache, which is typically felt on one side of the head and feels worse when moving.
A throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and noise, feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and lack of energy (lethargy) are the most common symptoms of a migraine attack. Other symptoms of migraine can include:
• Abdominal pain
• Disruption in balance and/or dizziness
• Feeling very hot or very cold
• Poor concentration
• Sensitivity to smells
• Stiffness of the neck and shoulders
• Blurred vision
It is worth noting that there are also symptoms that are specific to different migraine types. It is important to understand your symptoms because it is essential for getting the right diagnosis and treatment.
While symptoms occur during the migraine attack itself, some people experience other symptoms ahead of an attack during the prodrome stage sometimes followed by an aura. These usually occur a few hours or days before the migraine attack and can include changes in mood, appetite and energy levels.1
It may sound like a strange, mystical event, but ‘aura’ is simply a term used to describe a range of temporary warning symptoms that occur before a migraine. People who experience them often describe the symptoms of a migraine aura as:
• Visual disturbances – for example seeing flashing lights, zig-zag patterns or blind spots
• Numbness or a tingling sensation much like pins and needles – this typically starts in one hand and moves up the arm before affecting the face
• Feeling dizzy
• Difficulty speaking
• Loss of consciousness – although this is rare
Aura symptoms usually last anywhere between five minutes to an hour. While often a warning sign of an imminent migraine attack, they can lead to a mild migraine or no headache at all.