Key information about migraine headache provided by Dr Pyari Bose, neurologist, Auckland
- Migraine premonitory phase – this can be seen in around 70 percent of patients with migraine. Symptoms can occur 48-72 hours before the migraine headache. Frequently reported symptoms include increased yawning, euphoria, depression, irritability, food cravings, constipation, and neck stiffness.
- Migraine aura – about 25 percent of patients with migraine, report aura. This can be visual symptoms (e.g., bright lines, shapes, objects), auditory symptoms (e.g., tinnitus, noises, music), sensory symptoms (e.g., burning, pain, numbness). Occasionally aura symptoms may involve an absence or loss of function e.g., loss of vision, or inability to move a part of the body.
- Migraine headache – often one-sided but not always. The headache usually has a pulsating or throbbing character. As the headache increases in intensity, patients may develop sensitivity to light (photophobia), to sound (phonophobia) or smell (osmophobia). They may also develop nausea and/or vomiting. An untreated migraine headache attack may last several hours and sometimes even several days.
- Migraine postdrome phase – colloquially also called the ‘hangover’ phase of migraine. This is when the throbbing headache of migraine settles, and patients are left with various non-headache symptoms. Patients often complain of feeling drained or exhausted.