A migraine is usually an intense headache that occurs at the front or on one side of the head. However, the area of pain can change position during an attack.
The pain is usually a severe throbbing sensation that gets worse when you move.
Symptoms accompanying a migraine
Other symptoms commonly associated with a migraine are:
- nausea – you may feel queasy and sick; this may be followed by vomiting
- increased sensitivity – you may have photophobia (sensitivity to light), phonophobia (sensitivity to sound) and/or osmophobia (sensitivity to smells), which is why many people with a migraine want to rest in a quiet, dark room
Other symptoms can also occur during a migraine. These include:
- poor concentration
- feeling very hot or very cold
- abdominal pain (which can sometimes cause diarrhoea)
- a frequent need to urinate
Not everyone experiences these symptoms when they have a migraine, and they do not usually all occur at once.
In some cases, you may experience these symptoms without having a headache.
The symptoms accompanying migraine can last anywhere between four hours and three days. They will usually disappear when the headache goes.
You may feel very tired for up to seven days after a migraine attack.
Symptoms of aura
About one third of people with migraines have warning symptoms, known as aura, before the migraine. These include:
- visual problems – you may see flashing lights, zigzag patterns or blind spots
- stiffness or a tingling sensation like pins and needles in your neck, shoulders or limbs
- problems with co-ordination – you may feel disoriented or off balance
- difficulty speaking
- loss of consciousness – this only happens in very rare cases
Aura symptoms typically start between 15 minutes and one hour before the headache begins. Some people may experience aura with only a mild headache or no headache at all.