Migraine Episodes Vary Even In One Person

I was so very pleased when, in late September, my wonderful supervisors at Migraine.com decided to focus on the concept that migraine does not manifest itself in the same way for everyone. The following picture was on the website’s homepage and linked to this fabulous article from my fellow blogger Kerrie Smyres (check out her writing on Migraine.com and on her own site, The Daily Headache).

Those of you who’ve read my blog over the years know that this is a subject I have focused on frequently. It’s hard to explain to non-migraineurs what it’s like to suffer through a migraine attack, but finding a fellow migraineur with whom to commiserate doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be fully understood either. This is because everyone’s migraine is different.

I would like to emphasize something that is very true for me (and I suspect it’s true for you as well): from one migraine episode to another, my migraine changes. There’s the pinching, bubble-headed migraine that usually seems to be triggered by neck pain. There’s the left-sided, airhead-y, vice-like head pain that is a hallmark of menstrual-related migraine. There’s the ghost-like sense of a migraine, the strange not-quite-right feeling that dips and recedes, threatening to set in as a full-fledged attack. Sometimes I am sick to my stomach within an hour of the head pain setting in; other times I can suffer from a week-long attack and never feel nauseated. Sometimes one glass of wine will trigger a migraine the following morning; other (very rare) times I can have a couple of whisky drinks and wake up the next day feeling like a million bucks.

The point is that migraine changes not only internally but from person to person. This is just one reason why keeping a migraine diary or tracking your attacks with the Migraine Meter can be so helpful: you can figure out what your patterns are and start uncovering what sort of attack surfaces when and how.

Do your migraine episodes vary from episode to episode? Have they changed over the years?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (8)
  • Cindi
    6 years ago

    After all these years, my new neurologist wants me to keep a migraine diary again. I’ve been resistant, but this article helps me see a new perspective. Yes, mine have changed over the years and I do get the ones that linger but not blow AND the ones that hit like a ton of bricks. My trigger is mostly weather related, but again, as I age, I sometimes wonder if some food triggers aren’t becoming a problem, or maybe just a problem on those lingering days? This is not the kind of detective that makes for a very interesting made for TV movie, but I think it’s the kind I need to take on to help my doc help me! Good article… thanks!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi Cinid,

    Many of us are hesitant to keep a migraine diary, for whatever reason. But maybe if we think of it in terms of disease management, like diabetics keeping track of their numbers, it wouldn’t be so bad? If they can do it every day, so can we!! 🙂

  • Julie
    6 years ago

    I have noticed that more so lately smells really set me off more so now than they use to. It use to not bother me to make my husband bacon for breakfast even though I could not dare eat it because it was a major migraine trigger. The Nitrates. The past couple of years to even smell it cooking and the “afterwards” smell of it in the house makes me want to hurl and sets me off! And to smell cigarette smoke or perfume or any scented soaps, lotions, candles or anything scented at all make me so ill and my head starts pounding. If we go out shopping I have to avoid the laundry soap isle, the candle isle-any isle that has anything scented because it seems to leap off the shelves at me. And I swear the people that walk by me must put on a whole bottle of cologne or aftershave and delibertly try to rub up against me to reach something on the shelf right next to me! I feel like saying “oh gag me to death, please” and run for the hills. The last time we went out for dinner we went to a place that had some safe food items. We went outside on the terrace. Mistake. We were on the far outer corner & it was not crowded. On the opposite corner people were smoking & honestly I could smell it. We had not odered yet which was good because I had to leave it made me ill. Going shopping or going out we have to cut it short becuase of me. Smells I can no longer tolerate. They are a major trigger. At home everything has to be scent free. And it has gotten that bad in the past couple of years since my migraines became a daily routine. I’m super sensative to smells.

  • Julie
    6 years ago

    Cathy-yep, when my husband drags me out in his garage to help him hold something on his car to attach or tighten that grease or the antifreeze smell, even gas it just bowls me over. Then I get this look and a reply “it’s not that strong, or it’s not that bad”. I use to years ago joke when my mom would complain about smells being so strong and now I feel so bad because now I know exactly how she feels. A dogs keen sense of smell is exactly a great way of describing it. I never would of thought of putting it that way. Thank you Cathy you pinned it right on the head, or nose rather!

  • CathyC
    6 years ago

    I so understand Julie. Sometimes it’s easier or safer to stay home where your environment is controlled. I joke about having a “dogs sense of smell”, which basically it is. I smell things way ahead of others and much stronger too. It can be a negative and a positive too ! One thing I have noticed is the more potent the smell a lot of times the more severe the migraine. Yes, mine too change or go in cycles with the symptoms that go along. If I never had to be nauseated again I’d be thrilled ! My triggers haven’t really changed though. P.S. Please ask all your sons, husbands, boyfriends and male friends to launder their coats, jackets and favorite sweatshirts this winter. They hold so many odors from the dog, cat, their truck/car…wherever they left that thing. Walking by them in a grocery store or near them for those of us with sensitive smell it’s awful. I’ve had to run to find a restroom a couple times.

  • marlenerossman
    6 years ago

    I think you mean “vise-like” pain not vice-like. Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit considered immoral, depraved, or degrading. Vise is s a mechanical screw apparatus used for holding or clamping a work piece

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece. It’s validating to know we are not alone in this disease.

  • alig0118
    6 years ago

    I can completely relate to your article! The symptoms I get do change from migraine to migraine, hour to hour sometimes. It’s frustrating when some people who also have migraines don’t understand how this can happen. My neurologist completely understands and is very helpful when I get a new symptom. My last ‘new’ symptom was crippling vertigo. Thank goodness a motion sickness medicine made me able to at least sit up and not feel like I was going in circles.
    Thank you so much again, for your articles and being so open. I truly appreciate it.

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