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) 

Sleep 

Exercise Eat 

Diary 

Stress

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 HealthyWomen.org. This resource was created with support from Allergan Foundation and Bausch Foundation. 

 

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