Migraine headaches often start as a dull, almost inconspicuous pain that eventually becomes throbbing and intolerable over of the course of several hours. Migraine headaches can last up to three days without respite. The pain is usually accompanied by a host of other visual, auditory, olfactory, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Though migraine symptoms vary from patient to patient, common secondary symptoms include nausea, a tendency to throw up, and hypersensitivity to light, taste, sound, and smell.
Migraine symptoms can also be divided into phases according to the onset of pain. Prodrome refers to the phase prior to the commencement of headache characterized by symptoms of fatigue, mood change, yawning, irritability, depression, and craving certain types of foods. Other migraine symptoms experienced during this phase include stiffness of the neck, flushed ears, frequent urination, and watery stools.
Just minutes before the headache commences, migraine patients experience acute neurological disturbances related to vision, hearing, smell, and touch which constitutes the aura phase. The most common visual symptoms of migraine headaches include visions of flashes of light (photopsia), irregular shapes (teichopsia), and blurring. Similarly, patients experience a heightened awareness of taste, smell, sound, and a tingling or numb feeling in parts of the face and extremities. Occasionally, patients experience secondary symptoms characteristic of migraines such as visual disturbances in eye migraines or sensory disturbances.
During the pain phase of migraines, patients suffer spikes in pain in conjunction with heightened sensory disturbances and should try to avoid triggers such as lights, sounds, and smells.
One in three persons with migraine headaches experiences vomiting and profuse sweating. Some even feel dizzy, light headed, or suffer vertigo, which is called vestibular migraine.
Occasionally, vestibular migraine is not a symptom but a condition in itself as the patient experiences headache accompanied by a feeling of spinning. In the postdrome phase of migraine, patients experience a lull in the pain, a feeling of relief, weakness, and, at times, a sense of euphoria.
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