Migraine Signs and Symptoms

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  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • Sound sensitivity (phonophobia)

The light and sound sensitivity incurred by a migraine explains why people often retreat to a dark room and put a pillow over their ears to muffle out sounds (even voices can irritate the pain of a migraine).

Migraine Postdrome

After the pain of a migraine subsides, a person often feels wiped out. In fact, many people describe this phase as feeling like they are “hungover” or “out of it.” It’s thought to be due to abnormal blood flow throughout the brain, which can last up to one whole day after the headache phase.

Common symptoms of the postdrome phase include:

  • Feeling down (although some people actually experience an elevated mood)
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty thinking or paying attention
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness

Migraines in Children

Up to one in 10 children get migraines, and in children, migraine symptoms are usually different from those of an adult. For one, migraines typically occur on one side of the head in adults, but both sides of the head in children.

In addition to being different, the symptoms of migraine in children are usually not as obvious. For example, children may have a hard time describing what feeling nauseous is like. They may state instead that their tummy aches, the car makes them feel sick, or that their head is spinning.

Behavioral problems in school, like difficulty paying attention or withdrawing from peers, may also be clues of a migraine in a child. Of course, these behavioral or emotional disturbances can be from a slew of other issues (not necessarily health-related). But if you suspect your child is suffering from migraines, these behavioral clues may help you and your child’s doctor piece the diagnosis together.

Disorders That Mimic Migraines

Migraines can be tricky to diagnose, as their symptoms may overlap with those of other types of headaches. For instance, tension headaches are sometimes confused with migraines.

Tension headaches occur on both sides of the head (migraines can too but are more likely on one side), and they feel like a tightening grip, almost like a rubber band is being stretched around your forehead and scalp.

Another key distinguisher between the two is that the pain of a tension headache is not as disabling as that of a migraine. A person experiencing a tension headache can usually go on with their day, but just feel a bit uncomfortable. Simple movements, like walking around their home or office, will not impact their headache, as it often does in the case of a migraine.

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