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Symptoms of Migraine

A large number of people think that migraine is simply a headache that is usually one-sided. However, migraine is something much more than a simple headache and it causes a lot of suffering to the migraineur. This section deals with some of the common symptoms of migraine.

As discussed earlier, migraine can be of two types - Common and Classic migraine. The major difference between the two is that there is no preceding 'aura' in common migraine. In addition, common migraines tend to be less severe as compared to classic ones. A typical episode of migraine can be divided into the following phases:

Prodrome: This phase, which is seen in almost one third of migraineurs, primarily consists of mood swings (irritability, anger, depression, etc.) and craving for certain foods. The patient may also experience general fatigue, muscle stiffness in neck and back, lack of concentration, etc. The prodrome phase is more like a warning before the migraine attack commences. A large number of people can predict the onset of their migraine from the prodromal symptoms.

Aura: Almost one fifth of migraineurs experience an aura before their headache commences. An aura is most commonly a visual disturbance that precedes the phase of headache. Blurred vision, floaters, light flashes, partial loss of vision in one eye, blind spots, geometric patterns in front of eyes are some common presentations of an aura. The aura lasts for anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour.

Occasionally, an aura may also be a 'non-visual' symptom such as a funny taste in mouth, ringing in ears, difficulty in speech, loss of balance, tingling numbness of hands or feet, confusion, etc.

Headache: The headache is typically one-sided though it may affect the entire head in up to 40% of the cases. The pain may even shift sides in some cases. The nature of pain is described as throbbing, pounding headache by most patients though it may start off as a dull pain initially. The pain worsens with movement. The pain is accompanied by nausea in many cases and this may end in vomiting. Many patients experience excessive sensitivity to light and sound during the acute phase of the headache. The pain may last between 4 to 72 hours. Loss of appetite, fatigue, dizziness, etc. are some other symptoms commonly seen.

Postdrome: Once the headache has terminated, some symptoms may linger on for some time especially fatigue, inability to concentrate, etc.

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