This often severe, throbbing type of headache is different from other types of headaches in that symptoms other than pain occur with the headache. Nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and other visual disturbances are common migraine symptoms. A migraine headache may last from 4 to 72 hours.
Migraines are also unique in that they have distinct phases. Not all people have each phase, however. The phases of a migraine headache may include:
Headaches are classified as with or without aura.
Experts are not certain what causes a migraine headache. Many experts think an imbalance in brain chemicals, such as serotonin, and changes in nerve pathways are involved. Migraines may also run in families suggesting a genetic link.
To get an accurate diagnosis, it is important to describe your migraine symptoms to your doctor. Also, it is helpful to track when migraines occur (such as dates and times) and the details associated with migraine headaches. These are the most common symptoms of migraine headaches:
The symptoms of migraine headache may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Migraine headaches are diagnosed based on your symptoms and a physical exam. You may need other tests or procedures to rule out underlying diseases or conditions.
Tracking and sharing information about your headache with your doctor helps with the process of making an accurate diagnosis. Consider writing down the following information to take to your medical appointment:
Diagnostic tests that may be used to confirm a migraine diagnosis include the following:
Specific treatment for migraine headaches will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:
Certain medicines can help treat or prevent migraine headaches:
Complications of migraine headaches may include:
The goal of treatment is to prevent migraines from occurring. Good management depends on an accurate diagnosis and:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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