Phases of a Migraine Attack

Apr 5th, 2010 | By Beth | Category: Whats on My Mind

According to Wikipedia, migraine attacks occur in phases in some patients. We’ll describe the phases in a minute, but not all migraine sufferers experience these phases and the symptoms experienced at each phase can vary from person to person, from attack to attack.

  1. The prodome phase, which in medical terms is the early onset of a symptom or set of symptoms that may indicate the start of a disease before the specific disease-related symptoms occur.
  2. The aura phase, which in medical terms is a perceptual disturbance or telltale sensation that occurs very soon before a migraine attack or epileptic seizure.
  3. The pain phase, which doesn’t need a medical description thank you very much.
  4. The postdrome phase, which in medical terms means the complete cessation of symptoms and the accompanying sensations that occur with it.

As we noted already, each migraineur, that’s a person who sufferer migraines (cool term, eh?), experiences different symptoms in each of the phases, if they experience phases at all.

According to Wikipedia, about 40-60% of migraineurs experience the prodome phase, which can consist of altered mood, irritability, muscle stiffness, feelings of depression or euphoria, excessive fatigue or sleepiness, and often cravings for certain foods. With some of these symptoms swinging both directions – feelings of depression or euphoria, for example – it can be difficult for someone to know if they are just experiencing life or if there is a migraine on the near horizon.

If I have a favorite phase, it’s the aura phase, because while I wish I didn’t have migraines I need to make something positive about this diagnosis and how I function with migraines. Besides, the auras are kinda funny. I find the information in migraine-related articles that focuses on this phase to be the most confusing, but then again, the information may have been written by people who either don’t experience migraines or those who have only experienced minor auras. Of course, this experience is one that is quite easy, at least I think it is, to logically push away especially when it’s a very quick experience. After all, who would believe you if you said you saw sparkly lights around the edges of your vision?

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