Migraines – different stages, symptoms and causes


A migraine can cause a pulsing sensation or a throbbing pain and usually this is happening just on one side of the head. This condition is often accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light and sound, vomiting and nausea. Migraine attacks can cause a lot of pain for hours to days and this pain can be so severe that is disabling. Aura which is a warning symptom can happen before or with the headache. These can include blind spots, flashes of light or tingling in your arm or leg or on one side of the face. Medications can help to prevent some migraines and they can make migraines less painful. You need to talk with your doctor about the different treatment options if you cannot find a relief from this condition. The right medicines in a combination with lifestyle changes and self – help remedies can help. It is known fact that women are having three times more chances of getting migraines compared to men.

Migraine symptoms

In the most cases, migraines begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. This condition is progressing through 4 stages: prodrome, aura, headache and post – drome, but someone will not experience all stages.

  1. Prodome: One or 2 days before the migraine, someone can notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine such as:
  • Frequent yawning
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Neck stiffness
  • Food cravings
  • Mood changes, from depression to euphoria
  • Constipation
  1. Aura: This stage can happen before or during migraines. In the most cases people are experiencing migraines without aura. The symptoms of nervous system are auras. Auras are usually visual disturbances such as wavy or light, zigzag vision. Also there are some cases when auras can be speech (verbal) disturbances, movement (motor) or sensations (sensory) disturbances. Your muscles can get weak or you can feel that something tough is touching you. Each of the mentioned symptoms usually begins gradually, it builds up over several minutes and it lasts from twenty to sixty minutes. Here are examples of migraine aura:
  • Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
  • Hearing noises or music
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
  • Pins and needles sensations in arm or leg
  • Vision loss
  • Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light

There are some cases when a migraine with aura can be associated with limb weakness – hemiplegic migraine.

  1. Attack: If the migraine is untreated, then it last from 4 – 72 hours. The frequencies with which headaches are happening vary from one person to another. Migraines can be rare or they can strike several times a month. During a migraine, you can experience:
  • Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds and sometimes smells and touch
  • Pain that feels throbbing or pulsing
  • Pain on one side or both sides of your head
  1. Post – drome: This is the final phase which is happening after a migraine attack. You can feel drained and washed out but others can feel elated. For about 24 hours, you can experience:
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Moodiness
  • Confusion


Migraine causes

The causes for this condition are not understood, but the environmental factors and genetics can play a role in it. Also they can be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve which is a major pain pathway. Also the imbalances in brain chemicals can be involved in migraines. Here is included the serotonin which can help to regulate the pain in your nervous system. During the migraine attack serotonin levels drops. This can cause your trigeminal nerve to release substances called neuropeptides which are traveling to meninges (this is the outer covering of the brain). This is resulting in migraine pain. CGPR (calcitonin gene – related peptide) is other neurotransmitter which plays a role in the pain of migraine.

Risk factors: There are some factors that can increase your risk of getting migraines such as

  • Hormonal changes
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Family history


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