A migraine is far more than a simple headache, but what is it?
According to Professor Peter Goadsby, a neurologist at Kings College Hospital in England,
“Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger.”
Migraines are a complex condition with many different symptoms. The most common symptom is severe pain that is often over one side of the head, but may be over both. Other symptoms may include sensitivity to light, noise, or smells; feelings of nausea and vomiting; or disturbances in vision.
Most migraines will last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours.
There are two main types of migraine headaches.
- Migraines without aura, or common migraines
- Migraines with aura, or classic migraines
Migraines with aura are headaches that have at least one neurologic symptom, usually lasting anywhere from a few minutes to approximately an hour (though occasionally longer). These symptoms are most commonly visual, and may include
- Sparkles or stars
- Tunnel vision
- Wavy or zig-zag lines
- Colored spots
- Temporary blindness
Other neurologic symptoms may include
- Numbness or tingling
- Pins and needles feelings in an arm or leg
- Weakness over half the body
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Problems with speech and hearing
- Feelings of fear and confusion
- Partial paralysis
Migraines may occur anywhere from once a year to many times in a month.