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How Long Does A Migraine Attack Last?

“How long is this migraine going to last?" That is a question I think anyone who has experienced migraine attacks has asked. I’ve read many different personal accounts, polls, and studies on migraine. Based on my reading and experience, the answer to this question is that it depends.

How long have my attacks lasted?

Migraine is a complex neurological disease that affects your entire body. Common triggers for my attacks are weather, overloaded sensory stimulation, and changes in lighting and sounds. The length of an attack varies for me. When I was episodic, those attacks lasted about 3 to 4 hours before easing up. As a chronic sufferer, my attack cycles can last for days to weeks.

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What have my experiences with attacks been?

During my episodic years, I had about 2 to 3 attacks each month. I treated them with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. These attacks were brought on from reading, writing, and computer use, in my opinion. Poor posture also played a part. After treatment with over-the-counter drugs and some sleep, the attacks would subside. I miss those days. Migraine quietly chips away at the nerves in your brain. It finds ways to integrate itself into your bodily systems. Migraine attacks regularly disrupt my gastric functioning, too. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, visual auras, and distortions are common. Fortunately for me, these usually do not last for the entire attack cycle.

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How has my NDPH played a role?

Many people who live with migraine disease also have other conditions that can complicate their attacks. I have new daily persistent headache (NDPH) as a secondary headache. Both migraine and NDPH have been very resistant to treatment in my case. This directly affects the length of my attack cycles. As of this writing, I am coming out of an NDPH attack cycle that has lasted 43 days. Weather was the primary fuel for this extended attack. Even with medications that generally work to keep my attacks to a few days long, barometric pressure changes kept the fire raging. There are many triggers I can avoid, but you must find ways to cope with others as they come. I continue to track my attacks and what I experience. I’ve done this for 12 years. I share the tracking information with my migraine specialist, and we use it to find the best treatment paths for me.

How have I managed my attacks?

Migraine disease is very personal and individualized. Many sufferers share similarities with their symptoms and experiences, but we all seem to have specific ‘fingerprints’ concerning how we experience our attacks. There is no magic bullet to cure migraine disease, but as research continues, there is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel. There are hundreds of treatment options today. I, like many others, rely on our headache specialists to help find effective treatment options. Combination therapies are the most effective, in my opinion. Migraine disease is smart. It changes over time and with treatments. It’s as if it mutates to keep us in its grip.

What should you consider?

When managing your migraine attacks, there are a few things to consider. My tips are simple:

  1. Don’t ignore your attacks and symptoms.
  2. Get evaluated early! Find a specialist, even if it means traveling to get there.
  3. Track your attacks. Triggers, time, symptoms, medications, reliefs, and how it impacts your life.
  4. Educate yourself so you can advocate effectively.

A migraine attack is terrible to deal with, but they will subside eventually. Finding quality care and developing a good support network is a great starting point for effective management. How long should your migraine attacks last on average? That depends. We can discuss this more deeply in the comments.

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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