unnamed 59 5 - The Different Types of Migraine Headaches, Explained
December 24, 2021
unnamed 59 4 - The Different Types of Migraine Headaches, Explained

A migraine headache can seriously inhibit your ability to work and enjoy life. Twelve percent of the population suffers from migraines, making it the sixth most debilitating illness in the world. 

Not to be confused with a regular headache, a migraine is a neurological disease that can cause serious amounts of pain. Additionally, there are different types of migraines to be aware of. 

Read this guide to learn about the different types of migraines. 

What is a Migraine? 

Migraines are neurological disorders that manifest in a variety of symptoms. Most notably, you’ll experience a pulsing, throbbing headache, likely on one side of your head. 

Migraines tend to worsen with physical activity, sound, light, and smells. Some migraines last for a few hours, while others last for days. In addition to pain in the head, you’re likely to experience nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. 

Migraine With Aura

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A migraine with aura is one of the most common types of migraines. This migraine occurs when the symptoms hit about 30 minutes before the headache sets in. 

The aura symptoms are usually visual, and they may include disturbances such as seeing wavy lines or flashing lights. Some people experience vision loss for a short period of time, and some even lose the ability to speak. 

Sensory disturbances, such as numbness and tingling, are also common, as are motor problems, such as weakness in the extremities. Some people also experience the aura effect without suffering from the headache afterward.

Some people with migraine auras also experience Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, which is when you experience distortions in perception. You may feel as if your body is getting smaller and then larger, and as if time starts to speed up and then slow down. Children experience Alice in Wonderland Syndrome more than adults, but it can occur in people of any age. 

Migraine Without Aura 

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A migraine without aura is also known as a common migraine. Diagnosing a migraine without aura can sometimes be difficult, as the symptoms are very similar to other types of migraine symptoms. 

Generally, people experience a throbbing or pulsing feeling on one side of the head, which is made worse by movement or physical activity. It’s also common to experience nausea or vomiting. The key indicator of migraine without aura is that the symptoms usually come on all at once. 

Chronic Migraines 

Chronic migraine pain occurs 15 or more days per month over three months or more. Chronic migraines are also known as transformed migraines, and over time, sufferers may experience more headaches for various reasons. 

For example, you may experience a headache due to hormone changes or increased stress levels. An increase in the use of pain medications may also trigger chronic migraines. 

Silent Migraine 

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A silent migraine, also known as an acephalgic migraine, comes with many of the same symptoms as a classic migraine. However, it doesn’t come with the characteristic headache. 

Alterations in color perception and vision problems are the most common symptoms of silent migraines. These migraines are most common in those over 50, and they’re sometimes misdiagnosed as a stroke. 

Abdominal Migraine 

This type of migraine mostly occurs in children, but adults can experience them as well. Symptoms of abdominal migraines include abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.

Abdominal migraine sufferers typically don’t experience headaches, although children who suffer from abdominal migraines are likely to experience headaches when they’re older. 

Hemiplegic Migraine 

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A hemiplegic migraine is a rare type of migraine that leads to weakness in one side of the body. This is often accompanied by slurred speech or confusion. Like silent migraines, people sometimes mistake hemiplegic migraines for strokes. 

One type of hemiplegic migraine is genetic, but you can also experience hemiplegic migraines without any family history of them. 

Migraine With Brainstem Aura

Migraine with brainstem aura refers to a migraine that has symptoms similar to that of a stroke. Also known as a basilar-type migraine, sufferers are likely to experience vertigo, dizziness, slurred speech, unsteadiness, and numbness. In many cases, the symptoms come on before the headache begins. 

Migraines with brainstem auras aren’t common, and they’re most likely to occur in adolescent girls. 

Status Migrainosus

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Status migrainosus refers to a painful, debilitating migraine attack that can last 72 hours or more. If the migraine lasts longer than this with less than a four-hour break in symptoms while awake, it’s considered a medical emergency, and you should take a trip to the emergency room. 

Retinal Migraine 

A retinal migraine occurs behind the eyes and results in sparkles or flashes of light, sometimes combined with partial or temporary blindness. However, this only occurs in one eye. 

The blindness occurs when the headache phase of the migraine begins. The head pain typically commences within an hour of experiencing vision problems. These migraines can last up to three days. 

Phases of a Migraine 

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Most people who suffer from migraines experience them in phases. The four phases include:

  1. The Prodrome: Also known as the premonitory phase, this stage typically lasts a few hours. However, it sometimes lasts days. Some people refer to this as the “preheadache phase.”
  2. The Aura: This phase can last as little as five minutes or as long as 60 minutes. Most people don’t experience the aura phase. 
  3. The Headache: The main phase of the migraine, the headache typically lasts between 4 and 72 hours. The word “ache” doesn’t do the pain justice, as most people experience a throbbing, drilling sensation as if someone is taking an icepick to your head. 
  4. The Postdrome: This phase usually lasts a day or two, and it’s often referred to as the migraine hangover. 

Generally, it takes anywhere from eight to 72 hours to experience all four stages. 

Types of Migraine Headaches: Time to Act 

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Now that you know about the different types of migraine headaches, it’s time to figure out which one you suffer from. This way, you can move on to treating your migraine. 

Check back in with our blog to learn more about migraines and other health conditions! 

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