MigrainesMigraine Types

Let's Talk About Migraine Types

These monster headaches can cause massive pain—or none at all. We help you figure out which migraine type you have.

    Our Pro PanelMigraine Types

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts in migraines to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Marius Birlea, M.D.

    Marius Birlea, M.D.Assistant Professor of Neurology; Director, Headache Fellowship

    University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine
    Joel R. Saper, M.D.

    Joel R. Saper, M.D.Director

    Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Stewart J. Tepper, M.D.

    Stewart J. Tepper, M.D.Professor of Neurology

    Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth
    Lebanon, NH

    Frequently Asked QuestionsMigraine Types

    I have really bad headaches every month. Could I have migraines?

    Yes—and if you’re a woman, those headaches could be tied to your menstrual cycle and estrogen could be the trigger. Or you might have probable migraines (PM) if your headaches come with nausea, sensitivity to lights or sounds, or don’t let you focus or concentrate. Either way, check in with a doctor who will take your medical history and do an exam to rule out any other causes (like an old case of whiplash, for instance). The doctor can recommend medications you can take every day or during an attack to lessen the pain.

    I get dizzy and see shimmering lights, but my head doesn’t hurt. What’s going on?

    You could be having a silent migraine. These aren’t as common as the head pain ones, but people who have them get auras, or neurological disturbances, without the agony that usually comes afterward. But they are also considered migraines and should be treated by a doctor. After all, they can disrupt your life since you may be driving when you get one or trying to do a presentation at work. A daily magnesium supplement could be all you need to take.

    My dad had migraines with auras. But I just get a throbbing headache and feel nauseous. Am I having migraines too?

    Most likely. Think of migraines as a brain disease that you’ve inherited from your dad, which makes it more sensitive. When something triggers an attack—a sleepless night, overly bright sunlight—your brain activates cells and chemicals that produce pain and a queasy stomach, and for some people like your dad, neurological disturbances that involve lights, colors, and even tingling feelings in their hands, arms, or face.

    Last week I thought I was having a stroke because one side of my face went numb during my migraine? What’s up with that?

    You could be having a hemiplegic migraine. These are relatively rare migraines that come with visual auras but make you feel weak on one side. You may also have trouble talking, get confused, or feel totally uncoordinated. But you need to have your doctor check you out as soon as possible, even if you’re feeling ok now, just in case it was a stroke and not a migraine.

    Linda Rodgers

    Linda Rodgers


    Linda Rodgers is a former magazine and digital editor turned writer, focusing on health and wellness.