What is it?
A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of a migraine is usually an intense headache on one side of the head. The pain is usually a moderate or severe throbbing sensation that gets worse when you move and prevents you from carrying out normal activities. In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck.
Other symptoms commonly associated with a migraine include:
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound – which is why many people with a migraine want to rest in a quiet, dark room.
Some people also occasionally experience other symptoms, including:
- Poor concentration.
- Feeling very hot or very cold.
- Abdominal (tummy) pain.
Not everyone with a migraine experiences these additional symptoms and some people may experience them without having a headache. The symptoms of a migraine usually last between four hours and three days, although you may feel very tired for up to a week afterwards.
Symptoms of aura
About one in three people with migraines have temporary warning symptoms, known as aura, before a migraine. These include:
- Visual problems – such as seeing flashing lights, zig-zag patterns or blind spots.
- Numbness or a tingling sensation like pins and needles – which usually starts in one hand and moves up your arm before affecting your face, lips and tongue.
- Feeling dizzy or off balance.
- Difficulty speaking.
- Loss of consciousness – although this is unusual.
Aura symptoms typically develop over the course of about five minutes and last for up to an hour. Some people may experience aura followed by only a mild headache or no headache at all.
What to expect?
Migraine headaches can be managed at home. You can try the following things:
- Painkillers such as Tylenol might help in relieving pain.
- Try practicing relaxation techniques to help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids.
- Develop a sleeping pattern regularly by following a consistent sleep and wake schedule daily. Avoid sleeping too much or too little.
- Practice exercise regularly to help relieve tension.
Seek consult with your GP if the following occurs:
- Headaches occur frequently (at least 5 times in a month).
- The pattern and severity of the headache has changed.
- Symptoms such as weakness of one side of the body, change in level of consciousness and significant difficulty walking occurs.
- The headache is constant and never goes away.