Migraines | Symptoms

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Are there different kinds of migraine headaches?

Yes. The most common are classic migraine and common migraine.

Classic migraines start with a warning sign, called an aura. These types of migraines are also called “migraines with aura." The aura often involves changes in the way you see. You may see flashing lights, colors, a pattern of lines, or shadows. You may temporarily lose some of your vision, such as your side vision.

You may also feel a strange prickly or burning sensation, or have muscle weakness on one side of your body. You may have trouble communicating. You may also feel depressed, irritable and restless.

Auras last about 15 to 30 minutes. Auras may occur before or after your head pain, and sometimes the pain and aura overlap, or the pain never occurs. The head pain of classic migraines may occur on one side of your head or on both sides.

Common migraines don't start with an aura. These types of migraines are also called “migraines without aura.” Common migraines may start more slowly than classic migraines, last longer and interfere more with daily activities. The pain of common migraines may be on only one side of your head. Most people who have migraines have common migraines (they don’t have an aura).

What does a migraine feel like?


The pain of a migraine headache can be intense. It can get in the way of your daily activities. Migraines aren't the same for all people. Possible symptoms of migraines are listed in the box below.

You may have a "premonition" several hours to a day before your headache starts. Premonitions are feelings you get that can signal a migraine is coming. These feelings can include intense energy, fatigue, food cravings, thirst, and mood changes.

Possible symptoms of migraines

  • Intense throbbing or dull aching pain on one side of your head or both sides
  • Pain that worsens with physical activity
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Changes in how you see, including blurred vision or blind spots
  • Being bothered by light, noise or odors
  • Feeling tired and/or confused
  • Stopped-up nose
  • Feeling cold or sweaty
  • Stiff or tender neck
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tender scalp

Source

Headaches in Children and Adolescents by DW Lewis, M.D. (American Family Physician February 15, 2002, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020215/625.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 01/96

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