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Questions about symptoms and progression (your basic "is it migraine" topic)

I've been wondering whether the 'headaches' I get are actually migraines. I've always dismissed that possibility because the headaches aren't usually completely debilitating or severe, and I've never noticed any aura symptoms. But my headaches always come with throbbing pain, usually focused on one eye, usually made worse with exertion, and almost always resolved by sleeping.

I have some questions about the progression and symptoms of migraine attacks. I know these are all things which can be different for everyone, I'm basically just curious about what other people experience since I've never done much research about this before. I'll just put my questions in a list, feel free to answer any you can/want to!

1. How quickly does the pain usually develop? My headaches typically seem to develop slowly - over a few hours or more - starting with a general sense of tiredness and the pain gradually getting worse and more focused. Is that normal for migraine, or do they generally develop more suddenly?

2. A bit related to the above - how quickly do triggers usually take effect? I've seen mentions of things like the smells at a perfume counter causing migraine, but that suggests that the trigger takes effect almost instantly, doesn't it? Is that always the case, or can a trigger slowly cause migraine to start?

3. My experience has been that if I take paracetamol, the pain goes away and doesn't come back. As if somehow taking painkiller completely ended the attack (rather than just dulled the pain until the drug wore off again). Is that normal? It could well be a placebo effect and I just feel better because I expect to, I don't know!

I feel a bit like I don't belong here because my symptoms aren't all that debilitating, and probably happen once or twice a month on average. But I'm wondering if recognising my symptoms as migraine rather than headache might help me to deal with it. I guess something like a diary of symptoms and common triggers might be a good place to start, at least to get me better at noticing the patterns and stuff. Sorry if this is a bit incoherent, I'm pretty new to this and not sure what to think!

  1. Migraine is a huge spectrum disorder, from mild ones like yours (I would agree 100% that they are migraines) to me with 24/7 migraine and flares that last for days and days that respond to anything and get me admitted into the hospital). They also can change greatly over time.

    Not all migraines come with an aura - so that is totally fine. For years and years I never got anything, just that slow increase of symptoms. I had about 9 years where all I had to take was one Advil liquid gel, Sometimes I needed to sleep and sometimes not, feel empowered you have a treatment that works.

    I have migraines that go from zero to 10/10 in 5 minutes (very rare), and ones I know 24 hours before are coming. It all depends on the particular migraine. A few hours of symptoms before is more typical. There may be other warning signs you aren’t noticing yet (but don’t have to have then). I get insanely fatigued like you, increased urination no matter how much/little I drink, fuzzy brain, can’t spell well, use wrong words, can’t focus, extreme depression symptoms etc etc and it changes depending on the particular migraine.

    Triggers are culmative ... something’s you are fine with one trigger because you are below the threshold and sometimes that tiny trigger overflows your cup and causes one. Weather triggers me no matter how “empty my trigger cup is” but dehydration, overdoing it, skipping meals, sugar, alcohol are all small triggers. I can handle one or two on a normal day but add to many together causes a migraine.

    Hope that helps a bit. You are still a sufferer of migraines, no matter how “mild” they seem to a lot of us. Most of us that search out these types of sites are ones you are struggling with coping with severe migraines. Your pain and upset to your life is still important. Sorry if it’s hard to read, I’m in a rough patch right now and very fuzzy.

    Oops missed one. Yes yes yes a journal can help you track triggers and how often you get them. You don’t want to me using any meds more than 10-15 days out of the month. Otherwise you are at risk for medicati9n overuse headache (which is an absolute nightmare, will all the weather triggers in the last 6 weeks I’m fighting this as well because i can’t handle the pain level of my bad migraines and getting too many for the amount of meds I can use). It also lets you know if the migraines are getting more common, then it’s a doc visit and discussion on what meds to try now to get them back down.

    This site has tons of information and definitely worth while reading. Some may not apply to you but the more you now the better. 😀.

    1. Hi wirybug,

      Welcome - thank you for sharing your story and being here! We're glad you found us!

      Tamara gave you GREAT information, pretty much what I would have said. Migraine disease does fall on a spectrum; some of us are totally disabled with every migraine attack, while others can sort of function with one. I'd like to add a few links to articles that may be helpful as well.

      Here is a link about triggers, a tough one. Some triggers can take up to 48 hours for a migraine attack to occur after we've come in contact with it.. While certain foods, odors, lighting, dehydration and others can trigger an attack very quickly. This article has some of the most common migraine triggers; Here is another;

      Pain relievers don't stop the migraine attack process, rather mask the pain. If we are getting four or more severe attacks a month, it's time to discuss migraine prevention with the doctor. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to let the doctor know you are experiencing this.

      Keep us posted on how you are doing,

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