This often severe, throbbing type of headache is different from other types of headaches in that symptoms other than pain occur with the headache. Nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and other visual disturbances are common migraine symptoms. A migraine headache may last from 4 to 72 hours.
Migraines are unique because they have distinct phases, however, not all people have each phase. The phases of a migraine may include:
Headaches are classified as with or without aura.
No one is quite sure exactly what causes a migraine headache; many experts think changes in serotonin levels in the brain may be the cause.
In order to get an accurate diagnosis, it is important to describe your migraine symptoms to your doctor. It is helpful to track when migraines occur (such as dates and times) and the details associated with migraine headaches as well. The following are the most common symptoms of migraine headaches:
Each person may experience symptoms differently, and the symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis of migraine headaches are based on your symptoms and a physical exam. You may need other tests or procedures to rule out underlying diseases or conditions.
Tracking and sharing information about your headache with your doctor helps with the process of making an accurate diagnosis. Consider writing the following information to take to your appointment:
Diagnostic tests that may be used to confirm a migraine diagnosis include the following:
Specific treatment for migraine headaches will be determined by your physician based on:
The ultimate goal of treatment is to prevent migraines from occurring. Adequate management depends on the accurate identification of the type of headache and may include:
Migraine headaches may require specific medication management including:
Some headaches may require immediate medical attention, including hospitalization for observation, and diagnostic testing. Treatment is individualized, depending on the underlying condition causing the headache. Full recovery depends on the type of headache and other medical problems that may be present.