The Phases of Migraine
A migraine attack often involves more than a headache. It may include a prodrome, an aura and a postdrome occurring after the headache. Not all phases are necessarily experienced by a person suffering from migraine. Not every migraine episode either is the same every time.The prodrome, also called pre-headache, may be experienced hours or days before a migraine episode. It is considered the warning light for an imminent migraine attack. For some of the people who frequently suffer migraine headaches, this phase can be very helpful as it can provide the opportunity to prevent the attack. It helps to keep a migraine diary to make one aware of the signals being sent by the body. Typical symptoms of the prodrome are food cravings, constipation or diarrhea, mood changes, muscle stiffness especially in the neck, fatigue and increased frequency of urination.The aura follows the prodrome and usually lasts an hour. It is the most familiar of the phases due to its varied symptoms and effects that can be sometimes be terrifying. Auras include visual distortions, auditory and olfactory hallucinations, tingling or numbness of the face or extremities, difficulty in speaking, confusion, vertigo, partial paralysis, decrease in or loss of hearing, reduced sensation and hypersensitivity to feel and touch. The use of medications at this phase is usually effective in preventing actual headache from occurring.The headache phase is the most debilitating part of a migraine episode where the effects are not only felt on the head but the entire body as well. The accompanying pain can be very difficult to comprehend for those who have not experienced it. A migraine headache can have several characteristics including headache pain that is often on one side only, worsened by any physical activity, sensitivity to sound or light, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, nasal congestion and/or running nose, depression or severe anxiety, hot flashes and chills, dizziness, confusion and dehydration or fluid retention.The postdrome or post-headache comes after the headache which many people describe as feeling like a zombie or hangover. Postdromal symptoms are believed to be caused by abnormal cerebral blood flow and EEG readings for up to 24 hours after the end of the headache stage. Symptoms of postdrome include lowered mood levels, especially depression or feeling of well-being and euphoria, fatigue, poor concentration and comprehension and lowered intellect levels.
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