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Community Feedback: Migraine Warning Symptoms

Community Feedback: Migraine Warning Symptoms

When Kerrie Smyres’ article about migraine symptoms that go far beyond head pain was posted on our Facebook, many of you shared what signs you have to deal with preceding a migraine.

They ran the gamut, with some of you experiencing many warnings and some of you having one or two tell-tale signs that a migraine was on its way. Below, what some of you shared:

Many different things happen to me as I’m about to get a migraine:

  • “Tremors, slurred speech, stuttering, difficulties with balance; most of the time it is on the left side. Also skin sensitivity. Aches like a tooth ache in my neck. I see glittery tiny dots on the outside of my vision field.”
  • “Sadly, so many symptoms. A tender scalp, neck & shoulder tension also come into play (for me).”
  • “Slurred speech, difficulties with balance (fall often), fatigue and an increasing overreaction to all stimuli which varies from being distressing to feeling like I’m being tortured. Also have weird sensations up the back of my head like someone is touching me and an odd feeling that I can only describe as ‘squashiness’ over one eye and or a feeling of grit in my eye (this will be the eye the pain will be over later.) All of this is present prior to the pain and just gets increasingly worse until I have the full migraine.”
  • “Just the other night it was high blood pressure and nausea; sometimes it is sensitivities to light/sound/smell or cognitive issues.”

I always start yawning!

  • Yawning is a huge one for me.”
  • I warn all my coworkers that if they hear me continuously yawning, it’s not because I’m tired, but because it correlates to my migraines.”
  • “It was only when my neurologist mentioned yawning I was like: he’s either psychic or there’s much more to these migraines than meets the eye.”

I get zaps in my head.

  • “The zaps feel like lightning going very fast, always on the left side, painful and at a fraction of a second. They have been increasing in number month after month. Last month, I had 38 zaps.”
  • “I’m experiencing zaps on the left side of my head. They feel like lightning going on my head.”

And a few more symptoms you guys shared:

  • “My dog understands ‘on the floor’. I tried to tell him there was a carrot “on the floor”. I couldn’t. I pointed to it. Got very frustrated because I tried for a couple of minutes, but the phrase wouldn’t come to mind.”
  • “My earliest symptom is smells that are not there. I get really annoyed when I start smelling something nasty, but can’t find the source. Then usually by that evening other symptoms become present.”
  • “Dizziness and multiple falls resulting in concussions, for me.”
  • “There is one tooth/nerve in my upper jaw that will start hurting. 98% of the time means it is the starting of a migraine.”
  • “Many people just think it’s a headache. I once was hospitalized after having numbness all down one side of my body and was given a brain scan.
  • Extreme fatigue an hour or two before onset.”

Does any of this sound familiar to you? What symptoms do you experience before your full blown migraine appears?


  • faeriefate
    3 years ago

    I’m so glad I’m not the only person that deals with some of these. Sad that other people go through this, but I was super worried when I started having a really bad stutter and forgetting the words I as going to use! Like, did I have a concussion? What’s going on? It’s horrifying. And as someone that talks a lot (read my stories!), it’s frustrating to stutter bad. You feel like you’ll never finish your sentence. At one point I just stopped talking when it happened because it was so frustrating

    The dizziness I’ve only experienced once, and I’d like to never have it back, even though I may because symptoms can change. The day I was about to get a migraine I wok up and tried to walk left and started walking right. Not that I was confused, I was just so dizzy I couldn’t walk straight!

    Plus the fatigue is indescribable. People always think it’s the incapacitating pain that is the issue with migraines. That is bad, but you can take medicine for that. Nothing sucks more than being exhausted, not being able to explain why, and having a lto of work to do. Like all of your motivation is gone!

  • voiceofjoyce
    3 years ago

    So affirming and heart-wrenching to hear so many stories that resonate with me. My heart and my head go out to all of you. Especially my heart. You don’t want my head 😉 (just a little migraineur humor).

    I have sensory and cognitive changes as well as physical. Feeling like crawling out of my body comes to mind. Also, my “superpowers” kick in – all my senses are heightened. Sometimes I feel like a giant is pressing down on my head or I am having a mini-stroke because one entire side of my body is tight and painful and feels like it is shrinking and every single cell is a trigger point. And it switches. Cognitively, I can’t track a conversation, forget what I was talking about and have even been accused, and by more compassionate people, asked, if I was drunk. So frustrating! And the fog. I don’t know if that’s the worst because sometimes I’m not even completely aware at the time that I’m in it.
    Thank you for writing this article and for everyone’s comments. So helpful to know I have kindred spirits out there.

  • nosirrah
    3 years ago

    The two big signs for me: 1. the tinnitus gets more intense. I’ve had tinnitus for as long as I remember, but when it gets louder and typically on the left side, it’s a migraine warning (my migraines are typically on the left side).
    2. Rosacea flare: Even if I’ve used the Mirvaso cream (which constricts the capillaries, thus reducing the flushing), my face will flush and get very hot – when there is no other reason for it to flare e.g., alcohol, extreme temperature, working out, etc.
    I have done some research and learned that fluorescent lights can also trigger rosacea flares, so I get the double whammy with the migraine and the facial flushing as a result of the fluorescent lights. I’m going to be seeing a neuro-ophthamologist about this since it’s the optic nerve that is sending the messages to my brain.
    Yawning is also a big sign for me.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Nosirrah! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I have the same experience with tinnitus – drives me batty! We’re sending you all good wishes for your visit with the neuro-ophthalmologist.

    Thanks for being part o the community! -All Best, Donna ( team)

  • Jenny Kupperstein
    3 years ago

    I wish I could name my symptoms that lead up to a migraine

  • MaddieG
    3 years ago

    I get extremely dizzy and nauseated. I also have the olfactory hallucinations, and if it’s especially bad, my teeth will hurt. I also lose words, but I always thought that was a side effect of the topamax… Possibly it’s just from the migraines!

    I never knew yawning was a warning/symptoms! That’s interesting. I’m going to keep better track. I’ve been doing that a lot this morning even though I slept well… Wonder if it’s a warning. I don’t have time for this!!!

    Does anyone get tinnitus? Or notice buzzing or ringing more? I think maybe that might be part of it but I’m not sure. I’m just starting to track these extra symptoms.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi MaddieG! Thanks for joining the conversation. I personally do experience an increase in both the intensity and duration of tinnitus. We’re certainly not alone, as you can see from the plethora of articles relating to tinnitus. Speech and/or language symptoms are also widely experienced as a symptom of migraine. -All Best, Donna ( team)

  • Stacy
    3 years ago

    I tend to lose common words and then I know I have a migraine coming. I’ll be talking and in the middle of a sentence think I have NO IDEA what word comes next. Can’t even describe it. Then I dig in my purse for my abortive medicine. I’m lucky when I catch it although I’m sure I’ve just made a complete idiot of myself.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Stacy,
    Thanks for taking the time to share your comment! I thought you might be able to relate well to this article titled Wait, What Was I saying. I am sorry to hear you experience this symptom, but hope this gives you piece of mind that you are not alone!

    Thanks for being part of our community! -Joanna ( Team)

  • Elliegal
    3 years ago

    Oh hell yeah! Walking around Disney world I had one of my scariest symptoms ever: I lost sight in my right eye along with numbness in my left arm all the way up to my mouth. I thought I was having a stroke at 23 years of age. Now those severe symptoms have subsided into chronic migraine with a host of other prodrome symptoms. Kerrie’s list actually made a lot of sense and encouraged me to make a list of my own that includes clumsiness, grogginess, stupidity, tinnitus, numbness, facial pain, chills, ear pain, phantom odors, nausea, and dizziness just to name a few.

  • Brooke H moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Elliegal, Thank you for taking the time to post your experience! You are not alone. One of our contributor’s actually wrote about losing vision in one eye – – it sounds very frightening! I’m glad to hear that you were inspired to make your own list – it can be helpful to know one’s triggers and may alleviate the fear that may come along with them. Please feel free to share here anytime. Best, Brooke ( team)

  • JanetH
    3 years ago

    Yawning, feeling really tired. More frequent urination. In the past few months, this weird pain around my left eye, feels cold and sharp. Oddest thing I’ve had yet, and usually announces a headache. I also have had dizziness and what my husband and I call a “reality shift.” Again, it’s hard to describe, but it just feels like, for a split second, the world tilted. (Hubby used to get cluster headaches, so he’s familiar with some of this.) Occasionally I get blurred vision, but the Neurontin I take seems to help a lot with the vision and dizziness, which were getting to be a real problem.

  • Lisaknico
    3 years ago

    Extreme fatigue, tunnel vision, loss of balance, a sense of time slowing down or being underwater (while the world around me is not),tingling on right arm, tenderness in skin on rt side of face, tongue feels big. Any light is painful, but flourescent feels like thousands of needles.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 years ago

    I am so sorry to read how many VERY aggravating symptoms that you experience! This must be very terribly hard to manage & attempt to function “normally”! I hope you have been able to find ways to manage them & through the pain ok over time! Thanks for taking the time to share as this certainly helps others by letting them know that they are not alone.

    Joanna ( Team

  • Jenny1965
    3 years ago

    Yawning, blurred vision, spots that come out of nowhere, numbness and weakness down my entire left side which was initially worked up as a stroke;sensitivity to lights, sounds,and touch. Not all at once or in any combination. Sometimes I have silent migraines with the left sided numbness and weakness and no or minor headache but all of the fog brain and llight/sound sensitivity

  • stashaholic
    3 years ago

    Mine: I have two types – icepick (comes on suddenly with no trigger and feels like someone is jabbing my brain with an icepick), and the longer warning ones – usually caused by barometric swings. I generally know this one is coming because I have a pretty strong warning system I’ve identified over the years and I watch the weather channel to see what’s coming. My friends know I’m starting the cycle when I say “I cant find my words” (Aphasia)

    2 days before: start squinting in the office – the lights are too bright. Slurred speech, difficulties with motor skills (make more type-os, drop things, even fall over), Memory is shot – even if I write things down, it’s not computing in my brain. You could ask me my birthday at this point and I’m not sure I’d know.

    1 day before: Gradually goes to the point where my eyeballs feel too big for the slots, I’m exhausted and very cranky. People talking to me sound very much like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

    During: vision goes dark. Everything is too loud. Touch hurts – skin is hypersensitive – even the sheets feel like sandpaper. Moving is just agony – even rolling over in bed becomes difficult.

    Post: We call this the DAM day. Day After Migraine. My brain feels bruised. Eyeballs still not fitting back in socket, but not quite as sensitive. Still have cognitive impairment and my skin is still sensitive. Sometimes it’s like I’m underwater and can’t hear/compute what people are saying.

    Hope this gives you an idea of what I go through.

  • Lisaknico
    3 years ago

    Oh my God – your description is exactly what I experience. The icepick! I’ve got what you’ve described as the barometric pressure one now – thanks for that description. I hope you’ve found some relief.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi there again Lisaknico,
    I thought you may find the article related to an “ice pick” headache as you mention experiencing it. You can read more about it here.

    Take care,
    Joanna ( Team)

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