Migraines cause throbbing or pulsating pain in one area of the head, followed by fatigue and irritability. Severe cases of migraine can be debilitating and cause diarrhea, nausea, or auditory and visual distortions. Migraine attacks may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and could be preceded or accompanied by visual disturbances known as auras.
Genetics, environmental factors, hormonal changes, or medications may cause migraines. Other mechanisms may trigger a migraine attack, and these could include:
- Foods (i.e. aged cheese, salty, or processed foods, etc.)
- Food additives (i.e. aspartame, monosodium glutamate, etc.)
- Alcoholic or caffeinated beverages
- Chronic stress
- Bright lights
- Unusual smells
- Changes in sleep patterns
Symptoms of migraine may differ from patient to patient and could occur in different stages. Subtle changes signifying an impending migraine may include sudden food cravings, neck stiffness, constipation, depression, irritability, and hyperactivity.
Auras that occur before or during a migraine are typically visual disturbances, but sensory, motor, and verbal disturbances may also be present. Symptoms of an aura may include flashes of light, heightened smell, tingling, numbness, or speech problems (aphasia).
The migraine attack itself could include some of the following symptoms:
- Pulsating or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
- Sensitivity to lights, sounds or smells
- Blurred vision