Because there are different types of migraine, there are different migraine symptoms. Not everyone with migraine will not have each symptom. Because there is no specific test for migraine and diagnosis is done through the exclusion of other diseases, keeping track of symptoms is key in the diagnosis of migraine. It is important that you seek a professional diagnosis because several migraine symptoms are also symptoms of other disorders and diseases.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience a severe pain or symptom that you’ve never felt before, it could be a sign of a serious medical condition.
The most common migraine symptoms are:
- Throbbing, pulsating pain – 85 percent
- Light sensitivity – 80 percent
- Sound sensitivity – 76 percent
- Nausea – 73 percent
- Pain on one side – 59 percent
- Vision changes, blurred vision – 44 percent
- Aura – 36 percent
- Vomiting – 29 percent
These figures are from the American Migraine Study II of almost 4,000 migraine sufferers in 1999. In the 2018 In America survey, 4,356 people living with migraine listed head pain and difficulty concentrating as the most common symptoms experienced with migraine attacks, and 42% cite head pain as the most frustrating.
What you should do if you experience migraine symptoms:
- Keep track of each migraine attack in a journal. Write down the date and time the pain occurs, what you were doing immediately before the pain started, if anything changed about your normal routine and how long the pain lasts.
- Also write down any migraine symptoms you experience, such as vision change, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity etc.
- Write down what makes your migraine symptoms improve and what makes them worsen.
- Does your migraine journal show a pattern? For example, are there certain foods that trigger migraine? Or do the migraine occur after a certain change in your routine such as increased stress, a sleepless night or after skipping meals?
- Try avoiding any migraine triggers you identified, to see if the migraine go away.
- Find out if anyone in your immediate family has migraine, since migraine tend to run in families.
- If the migraine attacks continue, take all of the information you’ve gathered to a doctor who specializes in treating migraine.
A list of common migraine symptoms
- Sensitivity to light, particularly bright lights ”photophobia”
- Sensitivity to sound, particularly loud sounds ”phonophobia”
- Sensitivity to smell
- Vision changes
- Numbness, tingling
- Pain on one side of the head
- Throbbing Pain
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Puffy eyelid
- Difficulty concentrating
- Diarrhea – constipation
- Mood changes
- Food cravings
- Neck pain
Community experiences of migraine symptoms
Migraine.com advocates frequently write about their varying and changing migraine symptoms. One advocate took to sharing her various migraine symptoms by creating “unofficial types” of migraine such as the Creeper, the Hourglass, and the Ninja to name a few. The Migraine.com community also chimes in often to share their strangest and quirky migraine symptoms. Reading about other people’s migraine symptoms can help one identify their own, but it’s important to remember the differences among people living with migraine.