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Stages of Migraine

• Prodrome: Prodromal symptoms occur in 40-60% of migraineurs (migraine sufferers); this phase consists of altered mood, irritability, depression (or euphoria), sleepiness, food cravings, stiff muscles, and diarrhea (or constipation).

• Aura: Twenty to 30% of migraineurs suffer from migraine with aura, a focal neurological phenomenon that can precede or accompany an attack. Visual aura is the most common neurological symptom; this involves a visual disturbance consisting of flashes of white, black, or multicolored lights. Some patients experience blurred or cloudy vision. Other symptoms include auditory or olfactory hallucinations, temporary dysphasia, vertigo, tingling or numbness of the face and extremities, and sensitivity to touch.

• Pain: Pain can be moderate to severe and usually occurs unilaterally (on one side of the head; hence the etymology of the term “migraine,” which derives from the Greek “hemicrania,” or “half” and “skull”). Other common symptoms during this phase are sensitivity to light, sound, noise, motion, and smells, as well as nausea and vomiting.

• Postdrome: After the pain has subsided, some patients feel tired, depressed, and have additional head pain and gastrointestinal symptoms. Others may experience euphoria and increased energy.