Migraine

  • Alternative Names

    Headache - migraine


    Symptoms

    Vision disturbances, or aura, are considered a "warning sign" that a migraine is coming. The aura occurs in both eyes and may involve any or all of the following:

    • A temporary blind spot
    • Blurred vision
    • Eye pain
    • Seeing stars or zigzag lines
    • Tunnel vision

    Not every person with migraines has an aura. Those who do usually develop one about 10 - 15 minutes before the headache. However, it may occur just a few minutes to 24 hours beforehand. A headache may not always follow an aura.

    Migraine headaches can be dull or severe. The pain may be felt behind the eye or in the back of the head and neck. For many patients, the headaches start on the same side each time. The headaches usually:

    • Feel throbbing, pounding, or pulsating
    • Are worse on one side of the head
    • Start as a dull ache and get worse within minutes to hours
    • Last 6 to 48 hours

    Other symptoms that may occur with the headache include:

    • Chills
    • Increased urination
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Numbness, tingling, or weakness
    • Problems concentrating, trouble finding words
    • Sensitivity to light or sound
    • Sweating

    Symptoms may linger even after the migraine has gone away. Patients with migraine sometimes call this a migraine "hangover." Symptoms can include:

    • Feeling mentally dull, like your thinking is not clear or sharp
    • Increased need for sleep
    • Neck pain

    Signs and tests

    Your doctor can diagnose this type of headache by asking questions about your symptoms and family history of migraines. A complete physical exam will be done to determine if your headaches are due to muscle tension, sinus problems, or a serious brain disorder.

    There is no specific test to prove that your headache is actually a migraine. However, your doctor may order a brain MRI or CT scan if you have never had one before or if you have unusual symptoms with your migraine, including weakness, memory problems, or loss of alertness.

    An EEG may be needed to rule out seizures. A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) might be done.