Understanding Migraines

14 Migraine Prodrome Symptoms

Teri Robert Mar 12, 2012 (updated Jul 1, 2014)
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14 possible symptoms of Migraine prodrome, the first of four possible phases of a Migraine attack, which can be helpful when recognized as a warning of the impending Migraine.

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Aphasia - difficulty with words
Aphasia - difficulty with words
A common Migraine symptom that can begin during Migraine prodrome is aphasia - loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words. This makes reading and speaking difficult. An example of aphasia during a Migraine attack was televised in 2011 when reporter Serene Branson experiences a Migraine with aura while reporting from the Grammy Awards.
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Depression
Depression
Feelings of depression often occur during the Migraine prodrome, even among Migraineurs who have no history of mood disorders. This is because levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine are affected by the Migrainous process in the brain.
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Irritability
Irritability
Unfortunately, irritability is often one of the first symptoms of the Migraine prodrome. As if Migraines weren't difficult enough, this makes life harder for Migraineurs and those who are close to them. This irritability also often leaves Migraineurs feeling guilty.
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Concentration problems
Concentration problems
Problems concentrating can be a symptom of the Migraine prodrome and present huge obstacles for Migraineurs. Not only is this symptom annoying, it can be dangerous if Migraineurs are driving or operating machinery or equipment.
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Fatigue
Fatigue
Migraine prodrome symptoms can include fatigue. This fatigue is far beyond feeling tired. This fatigue is weariness and exhaustion to the point where the Migraineur may feel nearly unable to respond to anything.
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Increased urination, diarrhea
Increased urination, diarrhea
Since Migraine prodrome symptoms can include increased urination and diarrhea, Migraineurs often find it difficult to venture far from home during the prodrome phase.
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Phonophobia
Phonophobia
Phonophobia, increased sensitivity to sound, is a common Migraine prodrome symptom that can continue through the aura and headache phases. Phonophobia often causes Migraineurs to seek quiet places, wear ear plugs, and cover their heads with pillows to avoid sound.
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Photophobia
Photophobia
Photophobia, increased sensitivity to light, is one of the most common of Migraine symptoms. It can begin during the Migraine prodrome and continue throughout the Migraine attack. Many Migraineurs are, in fact, photophobic even between Migraines, and light can increase the pain of a Migraine. For more on this, see Why Light Worsens Migraine Pain.
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Increased thirst
Increased thirst
Increased thirst can occur as a symptom of the Migraine prodrome. This is one of the most overlooked of prodrome symptoms, especially by people who have other conditions that can increase thirst or who take medications that can cause increased thirst.
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Repetitive yawning
Repetitive yawning
Another often overlooked Migraine prodrome symptom is repetitve yawning. This is one of the symptoms Migraine expert Dr. Peter Goadsby finds interesting. Is it tied to dopamine levels? Better understanding of such symptoms could lead to better understanding of Migraine disease itself.
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Sleep problems
 Sleep problems
It's interesting that sleep problems can be a symptom of Migraine prodrome AND a Migraine trigger. It's no wonder we sometimes find Migraine so confusing! This is a paradox indeed.
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Stiff neck
Stiff neck
A stiff neck can be a symptom of Migraine prodrome. However, if the stiff neck persists without explanation beyond the Migraine, it's important to consult your doctor because it can also be a symptom of other health issues, some of which require treatment.
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Nausea
Nausea
Nausea is commonly know to be a symptom of a Migraine, but many people don't realize that it can begin during the prodrome phase, up to two days before there's any head pain or other symptoms.
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Food cravings
Food cravings
Food cravings can occur as a symptom of Migraine prodrome. These cravings can be for any kind of food, sweet foods, salty foods, carbs, protein, anything or any combination. So far, there is no evidence that they're related to anything that the body is lacking.