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How to Know If You’re Experiencing Migraine

How to Know If You’re Experiencing Migraine

A headache is different from a migraine attack. It's important to know the symptoms for migraine disease.

Created With Support

A migraine attack is

different from a headache.

Headache Tension Headache Migraine Attack

Pain in the head, face or upper neck. Can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease.

Caused by muscle contractions in scalp or neck. Pressure, dull pain. Slow onset.

The result of a neurological disease that involves nerve pathways. Includes sensitivity to light, sounds or smells. Nausea or dizziness.

Timeline of a

migraine attack.

Aura Phase (before or during)

Sensory disturbances that affect vision,

speech, touch. Not everyone who lives with

migraine disease experiences auras.

Postdromal Phase (after)

The pain has passed, but many people may

experience confusion, exhaustion, the feeling of

being in a “funk” (depressed) or euphoric.

3 times as many

women as men2

Dizzy? Pain in the gut?

Prodrome Phase (pre-headache)

Hours or days before a migraine attack.

Painless, but may involve a stiff neck,

mood swings, food cravings.

Headache Phase (during)

Moderate to severe pain. Light, smells, sounds, movement can worsen the pain. Not everyone with migraine disease develops a headache.

experience the pain and disability of migraine, but many of them go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because their symptoms don’t seem like “typical” or “classic” migraine symptoms.

You might have migraine disease.

Vestibular Migraine

A nervous system problem that causes vertigo (dizziness) in people with a history of migraine

Abdominal Migraine

Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting. Most diagnosed in children, but the disease often evolves into the more common migraine headaches

Self-Diagnosed Sinus Headache

Forehead/facial pressure, runny

nose/nasal congestion. Nearly always migraine (90% of the time3)

Migraine That Mimics Fibromyalgia (A condition marked by chronic pain)

Fatigue, chronic all-over body pain, severe headaches

Speak with your health care provider to learn about preventing or decreasing migraine symptoms using SEEDS for Success.4

Use your bedroom as a cue for sleep

Dark and cool room, quiet ± white noise machine, no screen (TV, phone, tablets)


Exercise Eat



Planned bedtime and wake-up, no naps, get out of bed if not sleeping

Start exercising with a goal of 30–60 minutes 3–5 times a week

Start small and slowly increase exercise duration and frequency to make it a habit Choose an activity you enjoy since no one type of exercise is best

Eat healthy well-balanced meals at least 3 times a day; avoid skipping meals Stay hydrated, aiming for 7–8 glasses (8-oz) of water per day

Stop caffeine or consistently consume less than 1–2 cups of brewed coffee per day Aim for optimal weight

Track your headaches in a migraine diary — use a calendar, agenda or app Bring the diary to your follow-up for your doctor to review

Rescue medications should be used fewer than 2 days per week to avoid a rebound headache called “medication-overuse headache”

To help manage migraine, consider the following techniques:

Cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques like visualization or progressive muscle relaxation

To learn more about migraine management, visit This resource was created with support from Allergan Foundation and Bausch Foundation.

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