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Migraine Symptoms and Phases

June 11, 2013

Migraines come in all shapes and sizes. Many people describe their migraine symptoms in different ways. This is somewhat appropriate considering doctors do not yet know what the exact cause of migraines is. Still, there are some telltale signs of this severe type of headache.


Migraine Symptoms

Aside from the four phases of a migraine, which we will touch on later in this post, migraine symptoms differ from other headaches because of the full body sickness that is associated with them. People who suffer from these types of chronic headaches may experience:

– Nausea
– Vomiting
– Dizziness
– Light Sensitivity

There is a possibility that this condition is inherited, but regardless, the abnormal pressure put on the neurological system of the human body is a serious feat for any person. It seems that migraines cause unusual activity in the brain’s nerve cells. In addition, chronic headaches affect the flow of blood in the brain.

Migraine Phases

Being equipped with a better understanding of how migraines attack is the best way to be on guard with precautions and treatments.

There are four typical phases of a migraine:

1) Prodromal phase-

Unusual sensations that indicate a migraine is on the way. This can take place hours or even a day before the actual migraine sets in. It may result in irritability, food cravings, sleepiness, frequent urination, depression, or unusual energy.

2) Aura phase-

This phrase of the migraine is only experienced by some people. It involves neurological hiccups, like flickering light, vision loss, and hallucinations. In addition, an individual may begin feeling odd tingling sensations in his or her skin and trouble speaking.

3) Attack phase-

When the actual headache approaches, the attack phase is in full swing. This phase may include any number of symptoms from severe pain to nausea and vomiting. Many people report being very sensitive to light throughout the attack.

4) Postdromal phase-

Essentially, after the migraine attack comes aftershocks of severe pain. They can be mild, like fatigue, or as severe as minor headaches that accompany movement. In addition, migraine sufferers report they have little to no energy during this time of convalescence.

Experiencing migraine attacks are not easy, but now that you know the four phases of a migraine, you may feel better equipped to identify the different elements of your migraines. While the associated pain felt with each phase is challenging, by identifying oncoming symptoms you may be able to coax yourself through the process with words of encouragement.

Here are some examples:

“Alright, I’m doing great. The attack is almost over. Then it is time to rest up so I can get back to full health.”

“What I am experiencing right now is the buildup to an attack. I am prepared and capable of handling this pain. I will stay in dimly lit areas and alert my close friends and family that I may be unavailable for some time.”

“I will just let myself rest. This was an exhausting migraine. I’m happy that it is over.”

How do you get yourself through the pain of a migraine? Do you tell yourself stories or play “positive tapes” like we listed above? Share your advice by comment below and benefit Disability Living readers, a community of Canadians with disabilities.

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