Symptoms and Treatment Options for Migraines

For those that suffer from migraine headaches, life can be challenging with that type of discomfort. Migraines can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation and be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. For some, migraines can last for hours – but the unlucky ones can suffer from one migraine for days. These types of migraine attacks can severely affect a person’s ability to participate in daily activities.

Migraines often begin in childhood but can also pop up at any age. For some people, migraines can be characterized in four stages: prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome. However, it is possible to not experience it in stages.


For many who suffer from migraine attacks, they will know signs of their impending headache long before the throbbing begins. These symptoms may start one to two days prior to a migraine. Some people will experience constipation, neck stiffness, frequent yawning, increased thirst or urination, food cravings, and mood changes. But not everybody experiences these symptoms; migraines are very unique to each person who suffers from them.



After prodrome, many people will experience an aura, typically a visual disturbance of the nervous system, but can manifest in different ways. These typically last 20-60 minutes before a migraine. Auras are reversible and temporary, but may include visual disturbances such as seeing a bright light or shape blocking vision, vision loss, pins and needles sensation in arm or leg, difficulty speaking, hearing noises or music, or uncontrollable movements/jerking. For many, these are tell-tale signs of the impending migraine.



If untreated, a migraine can last anywhere from several hours to several days. For those dealing with chronic migraines, the frequency can vary. The symptoms of the attack stage can include: severe pain that occurs on one side of the head, throbbing/pulsing pain, sensitivity to light or sound (and sometimes other senses), nausea and/or vomiting. Some people will rarely get these migraine attacks, while others can suffer from multiple in a single month.



While the attack has ended, it may not be completely over for some. In the “post-drome” stage, many people will experience the physical and mental consequences of a migraine. Most people will feel very physically drained after an attack, but some report a “residual headache” for a day or two after an attack. The severity of this headache is much less, but still lingers.


Treatment Options

While there can be many triggers for migraines (or none at all), knowing treatment options is the best course of action. Before deciding on a treatment option, consult a healthcare provider. They may suggest taking a combination of OTC painkillers, nausea medication, and preventative medications. A healthcare provider may also discuss the possibility of triptans or ergotamine, these types of drugs can help balance chemicals in the brain. Additionally, they may deem it necessary to undergo transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This is a device you place on the back of your head at the start of a migraine with an aura. This device sends a pulse of magnetic energy to the brain which could help reduce or stop pain.