4 Phases of Migraines Explained: Key Details Not to Overlook

Migraines are a combination of neurological symptoms that include a pounding headache on one side of the head as the hallmark sign. The intensity of headaches in migraines ranges from moderate to severe, and the attack usually lasts from 2 to 72 hours. Other general symptoms of migraines include the following:

  • Throbbing, pulsating pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, or smell
  • Aura (usually visual changes that happen before the headache)

Realities and Facts About Migraines

Migraines are the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world with over 1 billion people suffering from them. In the United States alone, migraines affect 13% of adults. The onset of a migraine for most people usually begins during adolescence, and the migraines become worse in middle age. For women, migraines become less common after menopause.

Risk Factors of Migraines

What makes a person at a higher risk for migraines? There are a variety of factors that make you more likely to get migraines.

  • Sex: Women are three times more likely to have migraines than men due to the hormonal changes they experience during menstrual cycles, menopause, or when using birth control.
  • Age: Migraines usually affect individuals between the ages of 15 to 55 years old, but most people experience their first migraine during adolescence. Migraines also affect about 5 to 10 percent of children.
  • Family history or genetics: If one or both your parents has migraines, you are much more likely to have them as well, which is the case in two-thirds of migraine patients.
  • Pregnancy: Some women experience the onset of migraines for the first time during pregnancy, and some also have an increase in migraine symptoms especially during the first trimester.
  • Other conditions: Having a history of anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, stroke, or epilepsy, and poor dietary lifestyles contribute to intensifying the development of migraines.

To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.

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Phases of a Migraine Attack and Their Symptoms

A migraine attack can move through four phases, with each phase varying in possible symptoms, length, and severity. You might suffer from one, all, or a combination of these stages. Let’s break down all the phases of a migraine to help you better understand your symptoms and get through them during your migraine attack.

  1. Prodrome Phase

This marks the beginning of a migraine attack. Around 60% of people living with migraines experience prodrome or premonitory symptoms. Indicators of this phase may begin hours or sometimes even days before a migraine begins:

  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Depression or elatedness
  • Stiff neck
  • Excessive thirst
  • Food cravings
  • Sensitivity to smells or noise
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  1. Aura Phase

About 25% of migraine sufferers experience an aura, a set of temporary neurological disruptions that often occur a few minutes and last around an hour before the full-scale migraine attack hits. Migraine auras are categorized into three types:

  • Visual
  • Sensory
  • Motor

Visual aura is the most common with almost 90% of people who suffer from migraines with aura experiencing it. Some of its symptoms are listed below:

  • Seeing zigzag lines in the peripheral vision
  • Flickering light
  • Vision changes starting in the middle of the vision field
  • Seeing black and white or rainbow colors
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of vision

One out of 10 migraine sufferers complains of sensory aura. The symptoms are typically short-lived, lasting only a few minutes up to an hour on average:

  • Tingling sensation in the hands, face, nose or mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Speech or language problems
  • Auditory hallucinations or delusions
  1. Headache Phase

The head pain usually is on one side of the head, although it may occur around the entire head in at least 40% of migraine cases. It ranges from mild to severe in strength and may also affect the neck and the lower face. During this stage, you might want to rest because any physical activity may worsen the headache. Other symptoms and characteristics of headache phase include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and odors
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  1. Postdrome Phase

During the post-migraine phase, you get relief from headache, but it can be very dispiriting. Many people describe it as hangover feelings as some of its symptoms are like what happens after a long night of drinking. The postdrome phase symptoms include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Lack of energy
  • Cognitive issues
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal issues

In general, the postdrome symptoms are easier to manage than the rest of the migraine phases.

Common Medications for Migraines

Doctors often suggest some medications to ease the pain and symptoms of a migraine headache. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol (acetaminophen) work as short-term pain relievers. Abortive treatments like triptans or ergotamines may decrease nausea that accompanies migraines. Valproate, topiramate, and metoprolol are also known for preventing episodic migraines.

The bottom line is that while these medications provide some relief, the migraines will most likely come back if the underlying cause is not addressed.

A Treatment That Addresses the Root Cause of Migraines

In many cases, migraines have been linked to a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, particularly the atlas and axis vertebrae. A misalignment in this area of the spine can put the brainstem under stress, which can result in a disruptions signals being sent to and from the brain. This can eventually lead to the development of migraines. Spine misalignment also negatively impacts the nerves and blood vessels of the neck, another factor leading to migraines.

Most migraine sufferers can recall having a neck injury in the past due to car accidents or whiplash. Other trauma that causes a jarring of the head or neck can also be the source, including sporting accidents. Upper cervical chiropractic care can help you bid goodbye to your migraines by addressing its very root cause – a spine misalignment.

Here at 1st Place Chiropractic in St. Charles, Illinois, we use a gentle yet accurate method to help the bones of the neck to realign. We do not force or crack the spine or neck. Rather, we utilize a precise technique to help the bones naturally return into their normal position. Most of our patients enjoy significant results such as a decrease in severity and frequency of migraine attacks after one or few adjustments.

If you are looking for a way to find relief from your migraines, contact us to experience the difference our chiropractors make in treating migraines.

To schedule a complimentary consultation call our St. Charles office at 630-584-5200 You can also click the button below.

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