If you suffer from migraines, then you know how debilitating they can be. Migraines are hereditary and four out of five people, who suffer from migraines, have a family history. Nearly 28 million Americans suffer with migraines. It is important to understand how a migraine develops and how it progresses. Migraines often go through five distinct phases. It is helpful to note that not all people will experience all five phases. Also, each migraine event may be different and not all five phases may occur. If you can learn to recognize these phases and what happens before the onset of a migraine, treatment can come quicker and be much more effective.
The first phase of a migraine is called the prodrome. This is often referred to as the warning stage. This stage can occur a few hours or days before the onset of a migraine. Often times, this can be the most important stage for someone who suffers from migraines. If this stage is recognized, then early treatment may be started and the migraine might not occur. Signals of a migraine in this phase include, mood changes, constipation, fatigue, and muscle tension.
The next phase of a migraine is called the aura. Few sufferers experience this stage, but it can be a frightening stage for those that do experience it. Visual distortions occur that include blind spots, flashing lights, blurred vision, or lose of sight in one eye. The aura usually does not last very long, but it can be a very alarming experience, even if you have been through the stage before.
The third stage is the headache itself. If the others stages sound difficult, the pain of the actual migraine can often be excruciating. The pain of a migraine can last a few hours or a few days. The pain is often felt on one side of the head or the other, but some people experience pain on both sides. Also, another aspect of migraine pain is sensitivity to light and/or sound. Up to 80% of sufferers experience nausea and vomiting with a migraine. The pain often increases with any type of physical activity. Most people who suffer from migraines lie down and try to avoid any and all types of stimulus.
The final stages are headache termination and postdrome. Although migraines are terribly debilitating, even without treatment, most will go away on their own, often after the sufferer has gone to sleep. The majority of individuals do experience the final stage of a migraine. Symptoms of postdrome can linger for a few hours or days. Many people take days to recover from a serious migraine. Often times, the symptoms of the postdrome mirror that of the prodrome. Weakness and fatigue are the most common along with feelings of depression and the inability to concentrate.
A migraine is an intense experience that can last for a few hours up to a few days. It is important for those individuals that experience migraines, to understand and recognize the symptoms and stages that occur before the onset of a migraine. Many sufferers keep a journal to assist in identifying symptoms that might be signaling a migraine. If treatment is started right away, many migraines could be avoided. Understanding the stages of a migraine and learning the symptoms you suffer could help you prevent the next migraine!