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Migraine Headache

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Definition

A migraine is a common type of headache that may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. In many people, a throbbing pain is felt only on one side of the head.

Some people who get migraines have warning symptoms, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms, usually vision disturbances, that serve as a warning sign that a bad headache is coming. Most people, however, do not have such warning signs.

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Symptoms

Vision disturbances, or aura, are considered a "warning sign" that a migraine is coming. The aura occurs in both eyes and may involve any or all of the following:

  • A temporary blind spot
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Seeing stars or zigzag lines
  • Tunnel vision

Not every person with migraines has an aura. Those who do usually develop one about 10 - 15 minutes before the headache. However, it may occur just a few minutes to 24 hours beforehand.

Migraine headaches can be dull or severe. The pain may be felt behind the eye or in the back of the head and neck. For many patients, the headaches start on the same side each time. The headaches usually:

  • Feel throbbing, pounding, or pulsating
  • Are worse on one side of the head
  • Start as a dull ache and get worse within minutes to hours
  • Last 6 to 48 hours

Other symptoms that may occur with the headache include:

  • Chills
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness
  • Problems concentrating, trouble finding words
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Sweating

Symptoms that may linger even after the migraine has gone away include:

  • Feeling mentally dull, like your thinking is not clear or sharp
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Neck pain
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