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Migraine Symptoms

writtenByWritten by: Sydney Garrow
Sydney Garrow

Sydney Garrow

Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

April 12, 2021 Read Time - 7 minutes

Migraine Symptoms, Types, and Causes

If you’ve been experiencing what you believe are migraine symptoms, it may become necessary for you to seek treatment and medication from a doctor.

Learn more about migraines and migraine symptoms, so you can make an informed decision about seeking out treatment beyond at-home fixes. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.


Typical Migraine Symptoms

Some typical migraine symptoms include: 

  • Pain (typically on one side of your head)
  • Pulsing feeling
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and even touch 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Migraine aura

What Is The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine? 

Although they are often confused, migraine symptoms vary quite a bit from headaches. Review some characteristics of migraines: 

  • Last anywhere from 4-72 hours 
  • Pulsing sensation 
  • Typically unilateral (affects only one side)
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Sonophobia (sensitivity to sound)
  • Osmophobia (sensitivity to smells)
  • Moderate or severe pain

And compare those migraine symptoms with typical headache characteristics: 

  • Last 30 minutes to several days
  • Bilateral or one side location 
  • Tightening or other type of sensation
  • Mild or no sensitivity to light or sound 
  • Mild pain

Even if you’re not experiencing every one of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a migraine or a headache. Different people have different experiences. Understanding the difference between a migraine and a headache is an important step in getting treated for your pain.

If you’re suffering often and worried your headaches might be a symptom of a larger problem, you can get headache treatment online

How Are Migraines Caused? 

Doctors and scientists seem to agree that disruption to nerve pathways and brain chemicals contribute to the occurrence of migraines, but there is currently no exact answer. 

Migraines can be caused by many factors, which may include: 

  • Genetics 
  • Environment 
  • Stress 
  • Trauma 

What Are Migraine Triggers? 

Migraines can be triggered by several factors. Figuring out what triggers your migraine symptoms is part of building up a treatment plan. If you are prone to migraines, while you can treat them with medication, there is no cure that can rid you of migraine symptoms forever.

Some common triggers for your migraine symptoms might include: 

  • Hormonal changes
  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Weather
  • Physical activities
  • Sleep patterns
  • Caffeine or alcohol, especially wine

What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine? 

Some telling signs that you’re experiencing a migraine include: 

  • Pain in your head
  • Blurry vision 

Many people can also tell when a migraine is about to come on; this is called prodrome. Symptoms that are warning signs of an ensuing migraine can include: 

  • Mood changes 
  • Neck stiffness
  • Thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent yawning 
  • Food cravings 

Keep in mind that while you might not experience all of these symptoms, it does not mean you are not having a migraine. 

What Are The Stages Of A Migraine?

Usually, migraines have prodrome, where you start having warning signs that suggest a migraine is coming on. Then, the actual migraine symptoms occur (lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days). And finally, some people might experience post-migraine symptoms, referred to as post-drome. You might feel drained, confused, or dazed for a day or so after your migraine. 

What Is Happening In Your Body When You Have A Migraine? 

There is no exact answer as to what causes migraine symptoms. Professionals in the field agree that it involves genetics and environmental factors alike. 

Migraine symptoms are also caused partially by brain chemical imbalances, and changes in the brainstem’s interactions with your nerves. 

How Long Does It Take For A Migraine To Go Away? 

Migraines typically last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. 

This will vary depending on the person, the type of migraine, the stressors involved, and whether or not any medication or treatments were used. 

What Types Of Migraines Are There? 

Although migraine symptoms tend to feel similar for most people who suffer from them, there are different kinds of migraines that affect different people. 

Some migraine types include: 

  • Migraines with/without aura – Auras can affect smell, taste, speech, and even touch. Often people who have migraines with aura see lines, shapes, flashes, or even lose vision for small periods of time. You could also feel tingling in parts of your body. 
  • Chronic – Chronic migraines are defined as happening for 15 days or more in a month, for multiple months. 
  • Menstrual -This kind of headache often happens about 2 days before a woman’s period. 
  • Retinal – Retinal migraines affect sight, even leading to loss of vision for periods of time. 
  • Vestibular – Vertigo might come along with or without headaches, which along with spinning and loss of balance. 
  • Status migrainosus – This type of migraine includes ongoing pain for more than 3 days. It’s often caused by medications or withdrawals. 
  • Hemiplegic – Often, this type of head pain is confused with a seizure. It can cause numbness on one side of your body and be accompanied by aura. 
  • Silent migraine – You can actually have a migraine without any head pain. Most people that experience this type have symptoms including aura and nausea, but they don’t last very long. 

This is just a list of some of the migraine types experienced by people––you could be having a different type as well. Due to the complexity and assortment of migraines, it’s really important to speak with a doctor if you’re suffering intensely, because your pain might be a sign of something else.  

When Is A Migraine An Emergency?

In some cases of head pains, it’s important to seek medical care immediately. If your migraine symptoms are accompanied by any of the following, you should speak to a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately: 

  • Abrupt onset of severe pain
  • Chronic headache that worsens with exertion or straining
  • Headache accompanied by fever, confusion, seizures, weakness, or numbness

It’s also important to note that if you begin experiencing migraine symptoms after a trauma to the head, it’s a good idea to head to a doctor or emergency room as soon as possible. If you’re over 50 and begin experiencing new headache or migraine symptoms, speaking to a doctor is a good idea. 

How To Relieve Migraine Symptoms 

Migraine symptoms can be relieved by avoiding the factors that you’re sensitive to, such as: 

  • Light
  • Loud noises
  • Touch
  • Temperature

Since sensitivity to these external sources is so common with migraine sufferers, many people take to resting in a cool, dark room to wait out the pain. 

Some other ways to help relieve your migraine symptoms: 

  • Exercise (if you safely can)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Massage your temples 
  • Medidate 
  • Inhale relaxing herbs or essential oils, such as lavender 
  • Acupuncture

Best Medication For Migraines 

Some people require medications for treating their migraines. 

Over-the-counter products for headache or migraine relief include: 

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin

Some other medications for migraines specifically include:

  • Sumatriptan
  • Lasmiditan
  • Zolmitriptan
  • Rizatriptan
  • Naratriptan

These are generic names for a few of the many medications used for treating migraines. Some brand names include Imitrex, which is one of many brand name medications. Be sure to speak extensively with your doctor about all the options, side effects, and your needs. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.


Online Care for Migraine Symptoms 

Migraines can negatively affect your life, especially if you’re experiencing them on a regular basis. Although home remedies can help for rare cases, it might be necessary to seek medical treatment if you suffer from migraines often.

Migraine treatment online can be quick and easy with PlushCare. We give you access to quality online doctors who can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications for your migraine symptoms. Schedule an appointment today.

Read More About Migraine Symptoms


PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Mayo Clinic. Migraine. Accessed January 13, 2021.

Mayo Clinic. Headache. Accessed on April 09, 2021 at

Merck Manual. Migraine. Accessed January 13, 2021.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. StatPearls. Migraine Headache. Accessed January 13, 2021.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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