How are migraines different from other headaches?
The pain you get with a migraine is usually far more severe than an ordinary headache, and often felt on one side of the head. The headache – and accompanying symptoms – can cause migraineurs (people who get migraine) to lie down in a dark room for hours, even days, as attacks can last between four and 72 hours.2 Some migraineurs experience a couple of attacks a week, while others may only get them occasionally.
Migraines are considered chronic if you get headaches on more than 15 days a month, with a minimum of eight of these days involving migraine, for at least three months.3 What are the symptoms of migraine? Apart from intense headache pain, migraines are associated with nausea and/or vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound or smells.4 There are two main types of migraine – without aura, affecting 70-90% of migraineurs, and with aura, thought to affect 10-30%.5 A migraine with aura gives you additional neurological symptoms that normally start from a few minutes to up to an hour before an attack.6 These symptoms can include visual disturbances, for example:7
- flashing lights or stars
- tunnel vision
- blind spots
- coloured spots
You can also experience other neurological symptoms, including:8
If you experience an aura without a headache, this is known as a ‘silent migraine’.9
- pins and needles
- weakness on one side of the body
- speech difficulties
- partial paralysis (although this is rare)