There’s good news and bad news about being diagnosed with migraines. The bad news is that migraines are a chronic and very painful condition. The good news is that the worst of migraine symptoms like nausea and eye pain can be avoided if patients recognize the early signs of migraine. By taking medication as soon as possible after these early symptoms start, the migraine can be cut short.
Doctors and neurologists divide a migraine attack into three phases – prodome, headache and postdrome. Migraine prodome or pre-heache symptoms usually are not painful, which can make them easily ignored by patients. It can take a few migraine attacks for a migraineur to begin recognizing prodome symptoms, provided they keep a migraine journal or diary and follow their doctor’s advice.
Each Migraineur is Different
A migraineur is a fancy word for “person that suffers from migraines.” Since each person is migraineur is different, each migraineur’s early migraine symptoms will differ. Some migrainuers experience different prodome symptoms before each migraine attack, but most patients experience similar prodome symptoms. These are the most common migraine warning signs, according to Managing Migraine: A Patient’s Guide to Successful Migraine Care (Baxter Publishing; 2008):
- · Mood changes, including irritability or nervousness
- · Sudden inexplicable increase in light, noise, smells and (sometimes) tastes
- · Mild pressure on one side of the head
- · Flu-like symptoms including muscle aches
- · Eyes tear for no known reason
- · Problems talking
- · Auras
About 20% of migraineurs experience migraine aura. This is a strange hallucination of sight, sound and (very rarely) smells. Visual auras are the most common. These can cause halos to form around objects, sudden flashing lights or a bizarre blurring as if part of the eye is under water. The headache and other symptoms begin less than an hour after the aura begins.
Keep a Migraine Journal
Migraineurs are encouraged to keep a headache or migraine journal to help them determine what their individual prodome symptoms are. There are pre-made migraine diary forms which can be downloaded from the web or photocopied from books about migraines. These journals can also be shared to a doctor of neurologist to help with treatments.
Information listed in a page of a migraine journal includes:
- · The date
- · What the patient was doing right before attack begins
- · What time of the month it is (for women)
- · What the weather was like
- · How long the migraine attack lasted
- · If any medication was taken and if it was effective.