Migraines are among the most prevalent neurological diseases. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines affect 38 million Americans and 1 billion people worldwide. It’s not surprising that most people know someone who is a migraine sufferer or are themselves suffering from migraines.
A migraine sometimes occurs without notice and can linger for hours or days. Meanwhile, properly diagnosing a migraine can be difficult, particularly for those who are experiencing a migraine for the first time.
Common migraine features include:
- Pulsating/throbbing pain on one side of the head
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Sensitivity to sound (phonophobia)
Typically, a migraine sufferer will also display one or more of the following migraine-associated changes before the headache strikes:
- Prodrome: a subtle change in the body that presents one to two days prior to the onset of a migraine.
- Aura: a more pronounced change in the senses, whether hearing, touch, speech or vision. An aura occurs directly before or during a migraine attack.
It is important to understand the most common migraine features. With the ability to identify the signs of a migraine quickly, an individual will be better equipped to get the right treatment.
Now, let’s take a look at five other common migraine-associated symptoms.
The link between insomnia and migraines is nothing new. According to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF), medical providers have recognized the link between migraines and insomnia for centuries.
In many instances, there is a direct connection between poor sleep and the frequency and intensity of migraines, according to the AMF. Sleep apnea, excess daytime sleepiness and frequent snoring often are associated with migraines as well.
Stuffy Nose and Watery Eyes
Many are led to believe that facial pressure, along with, a stuffy nose and/or watery eyes, are signs of a sinus headache or bad allergies. However, these symptoms are frequently linked to certain types of migraines.
WebMD states four out of five people who think they have a sinus headache actually are actually suffering from a migraine. Therefore, an individual who has classic sinus headache symptions may need be evaluated for migraines, especially if traditional sinus treatments aren’t doing the trick.
Believe it or not, food cravings may occur during the migraine prodrome. In fact, many migraine sufferers will also crave carbohydrates in the minutes leading up to a migraine attack.
Food cravings rarely last long. In addition, migraine sufferers frequently experience nausea and vomiting during the painful phase of a migraine attack, which have the opposite effect. As such, after a migraine attack ends, most migraine sufferers will lose their food cravings.
Moderate to severe pain near or behind the eye is common during a migraine, and can impact a migraine sufferer’s ability to focus.
But this is different from an ocular migraine, which affects roughly one out of every 200 migraine sufferers, according to WebMD. Ocular migraines result in temporary, one-sided vision loss or blindness that usually lasts for about an hour.
A migraine can be a major pain in the neck – literally. Migraines can cause pain in the neck deep muscles and nerves throughout the neck. This type of pain can lead a migraine sufferer (and many doctors) to believe that the pain is related to the spinal bones or disks, discounting the fact that it is temporary and simply migraine-related.
Individuals who can identify the signs of a migraine will be more likely to manage a migraine attack effectively. The most important step in migraine management is seeking a medical diagnosis, and exploring treatments to both limit the risk of future migraines, as well as manage symptoms once they occur.