What is a Migraine Prodrome?

Last updated: November 2022

Prodrome is only one of the stages of a migraine attack. It is the first part of an attack when the 'normal' equilibrium of the central nervous system has been disrupted. It occurs in about 80% of migraine patients and usually lasts between 24 - 48 hrs.

Not all migraineurs will experience a prodrome. Those that do may not experience this stage with every migraine attack. When a prodrome occurs, the patient may begin to feel the 'premonition' that something is not right. Sometimes it is the family and friends of the migraineur that notice the symptoms of prodrome first. The migraineur may actually be unaware that symptoms have begun.

Signs and signals

Some symptoms of prodrome may include:

  • Appetite changes (which may include cravings)
  • Cognition and concentration difficulties
  • Cold extremities
  • Diarrhea or other bowel changes
  • Excitement or irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Memory changes
  • Weakness
  • Yawning, stretching

If a patient notices prodrome, they may be able to take measures that abort the attack before it goes further. Unfortunately, many choose to take a wait-and-see approach, however, as prodrome may not always result in a full-blown migraine attack. This is often a mistake because the sooner the patient is able to take their migraine abortive medication, the more likely the attack will be shorter and less painful or debilitating.

Everyone is different

Migraineurs who experience the symptoms of prodrome may be mildly, moderately, or even severely disabled by them - much more than was once thought.

Have you experienced prodrome symptoms that are different from those listed here? I hope you’ll share them with us!

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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.

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