Understanding the various stages of a migraine can be essential for migraine sufferers, allowing them to anticipate changes and seek treatment before the symptoms worsen.

There are four potential migraine stages:

  • Prodrome
  • Aura
  • Migraine
  • Postdrome

These stages vary in length and severity, and each person may experience one, some or all of these stages.

By understanding the individual migraine stages, a migraine sufferer can better prepare for, and possibly prevent, a migraine.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to handle migraine symptoms during each of the four migraine stages.

1. Prodrome

Prodrome takes place one to two days before a migraine attack. It can be associated with both emotional and physical symptoms, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscle cramps and weakness.

The prodrome stage may cause a person to feel:

  • Cravings for certain foods or loss of appetite
  • Energetic and excitable or depressed
  • Irritable
  • Sleepy
  • Thirsty

If a person experiences any of the aforementioned symptoms, it may be beneficial to tone down normal, everyday activities and rest. This allows the individual to settle down in a calm environment, which may help this person effectively manage migraine pain or even prevent it from occurring.

2. Aura

The aura stage serves as a “warning” that occurs in the moments leading up to a migraine attack. At this point, an individual may experience changes in one or more senses (hearing, speech, taste, touch and vision), along with muscle spasms, weakness or a general feeling of “weirdness”.

Although two-thirds of migraine sufferers do not experience an aura, those that do will often report that these auras remain consistent in their symptoms. In other words, an individual will experience the same aura symptoms leading up each migraine attack. Although sometimes uncomfortable in and of themselves, auras can serve as a helpful sign of an impending migraine.

If experiencing an aura, an individual can make their way to a darkened, quiet room, and try to relax or sleep to help reduce the severity of the coming migraine attack. The experience of an aura can also allow the person to adjust plans to account for the migraine that is about to occur. Finally, an aura can sometimes be the signal to take certain abortive medications, to help prevent or lessen the migraine to come.

3. Migraine Attack

A migraine attack generally results in moderate-to-severe, throbbing pain on one side of the head. Migraines tend to last between four hours and three days and are associated with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and/or sensitivity to sound (phonophobia).

Most migraine sufferers will instinctually know what to do during a migraine, which includes taking certain rescue medications, finding a dark, quiet room, and trying to sleep. If the pain is unusually strong, or there is associated muscle weakness or other unusual physical symptoms it is best to err on the side of caution and get immediate medical attention. These non-typical migraine symptoms may be a sign of a more serious problem.

4. Postdrome

As the final stage of a migraine, a postdrome typically leaves a person with a hangover-like feeling. This stage usually lasts about 24 hour and is associated with exhaustion and difficulty focusing.

During this stage, it is important for the individual to avoid strenuous and stressful activity, and to allow for healing by resting and recuperating.

The Migraine Institute can offer custom treatments to help individuals achieve long-term migraine relief. To find out more, please call us today at 310.461.0303 to schedule a consultation.

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