For many people, migraines are a recurring issue. Migraine episodes cause a throbbing headache, nausea, and extreme light and sound sensitivity. This pain can continue for hours to days, and it can be so severe that it interferes with your daily life. Differentiating between the various stages of a migraine episode and its symptoms helps manage the condition and reduce how much it affects their daily activities.
A typical migraine attack consists of 4 stages:
1. Prodrome. 1 to 3 days before an attack, you may notice the first subtle signs of a migraine episode.
2. Aura. Some patients experience blurry vision, flashing lights, or numbness or tingling in the face that spreads down the arm 10-30 minutes before the onset of a migraine.
3. Attack. This is the peak of a migraine attack. It lasts between 4 and 72 hours.
4. Postdrome. From 24 to 48 hours after an attack, a person may feel drained, fatigued, and confused. Sudden head movements may be painful as well during this time.
If you are suffering from recurrent migraine episodes, it’s useful to be mindful of the way you feel during the prodrome or even record how you feel in a journal. Being able to predict a migraine early on helps halt its progression altogether or reduce its severity.
Some people just say that they feel weird or out of place before a migraine, but others have more numerous and specific symptoms. Although these symptoms can differ from person to person, there are several common signs many migraine sufferers experience. We list 8 of such prodrome symptoms here.
1. Light and sound sensitivity are common symptoms of a migraine attack, but they can begin days before an actual headache. For some people, loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells - such as the smell of strong perfume - can even trigger a migraine. Over 90% of migraine sufferers have some kind of sensory sensitivity before and during a migraine.
2. Sugar cravings. Strong food cravings, especially a sweet tooth, are a widespread sign of an upcoming migraine. Some migraine sufferers report craving chocolate, while others crave soda or other sweets.
3. Ear pressure. Some patients report ear pressure or having plugged-up ears a few days before an episode. This symptom can be easy to miss, as it’s also common for allergies and other conditions not related to migraines.
4. Mood changes and restlessness. Swift shifts in mood, or just a persistent feeling of restlessness or anxiety, as if something isn’t right, can be the only prodrome symptom. It doesn’t have to be a bad mood either - some patients report feeling euphoric or elated right before a migraine.
5. Fatigue and neck stiffness are the most common warning signs of a migraine. If your neck feels tight and you feel tired, even though you had a good night’s sleep, it could point to an upcoming migraine attack.
6. Toilet issues. Increased urination, indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea are all common signs of an upcoming migraine. Some specific foods are even known to trigger migraines on their own. Read more on the topic here - 16 Migraine-Causing Foods That Should Be Avoided.
7. Frequent yawning and tongue-tingling. Strange and unusual sensations, such as yawning non-stop, tongue-tingling, and restless legs can point to a nearing migraine episode in some people.
8. Sensing smells that aren’t there. The last sensory disturbance very common among migraine sufferers are so-called “phantom smells.” As the name suggests, people who have this symptom experience scents that aren’t there. One could sense unpleasant smells like cigarette smoke or bleach, but also pleasant scents, such as lemons or perfume.
Related Article: The Biggest Migraine Myths You Should Be Aware Of