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Migraine Stages

Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Amr Hosny (Headache Specialist) of Advanced Headache Center

Migraine headaches stop you from enjoying life. They’re debilitating and recurring, but each episode often passes through several migraine stages. These stages give you a warning that a migraine attack is on the way and indicate when the attack is over. No matter which of the migraine stages you’re currently facing, you can get relief from Dr. Amr Hosny and his team at the Advanced Headache Center, with offices in Midtown NYC or throughout Bergen County, NJ. A Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Hosny, addresses your pain, teaches you to recognize the migraine stages, and helps you avoid future attacks. Call today for an appointment at the nearest center.

Is a Migraine Headache Considered a Serious Illness?

Migraine headaches are considered the sixth most disabling illness in the world. More than one million emergency room and doctor visits every year in the U.S. are due to severe migraine episodes. Additionally, migraines:

  • Strike 12 percent of the population
  • Affect approximately 39 million people, most between 18 and 44 years old
  • Keep 90 percent of all sufferers out of work or school
  • It can last for hours or even days
  • Commonly recur as frequently as 15 times per month.

If you have bouts of severe headaches that affect your daily life activities, you likely suffer from migraines. That’s reason enough to visit Dr. Amr Hosny and his team at the Advanced Headache Center in Manhattan or Paramus, NJ. Dr. Hosny has special training to diagnose your migraine and takes immediate action to relieve your pain and treat the causes.

What Are the Stages of Migraines?

The painful, repeated migraine headaches don’t occur as sudden, surprising events. Instead, they most often develop through a series of identifiable migraine stages. A migraine headache causes symptoms that can change over hours or days throughout the course of the migraine episode. The four migraine stages include:

  • The prodrome stage
  • The aura stage
  • The migraine attack stage
  • The postdrome stage

You may not experience all the intermediate stages every time, but being able to recognize the signs of each helps you become aware of an approaching episode so you can seek the best treatment. The Advanced Headache Center has eight locations around Midtown New York and Bergen County, New Jersey, to serve you better. State-of-the-art technology and compassionate staff deliver an accurate diagnosis and proven migraine treatments.

How Can I Recognize the Prodrome Stage?

The prodrome is the first phase of a migraine episode. Most migraine sufferers feel the prodrome stage before a full-on migraine attack makes itself known. It always precedes a migraine attack, sometimes occurring hours before the actual headache. Some signs of the prodrome stage include:

  • Irritability, depression, or other mood shifts
  • Yawning, even if you don’t feel tired
  • Excessive thirst
  • Sleepiness, fatigue, and trouble concentrating
  • An urge for sweet foods
  • The need to urinate frequently
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Difficulty talking
  • Sensory sensitivity, such as bright lights or loud sounds

Not all these symptoms may affect you. You may experience one or two consistently that seem fairly well attuned to your migraine. It helps your doctor if you start a migraine diary. This simple document tracks the day and time that you experience each stage of every migraine.

What Happens in the Aura Stage?

The aura stage induces a sensory effect. While most people notice a visual disturbance, it can also affect a different sense. Some of the effects may include:

  • A blind spot or hazy vision
  • Flickering lights or geometric patterns
  • Sometimes even hallucinations
  • General fatigue
  • Tingling in your extremities, such as your arms, legs, and face
  • Numbness
  • Problems speaking clearly or understanding spoken language
  • Tinnitus or ringing in your ears

Only about a fifth of migraine sufferers experience auras, which usually don’t last more than 30 minutes. While normally, an aura signals an oncoming migraine, it may happen simultaneously as the headache begins. If you notice any of the pre-attack signs, you learn to recognize that a migraine attack is coming.

What Are the Common Signs of a Migraine Attack?

While the other stages may feel disorienting, the migraine attack stage is by far the most debilitating. Characterized by sharp, throbbing pain, a migraine can hit one or both sides of your head. A severe headache often starts above your eyes. Other descriptions of a migraine include:

  • It feels like a throbbing, drilling kind of pain.
  • The pain worsens with physical activity.
  • You may discover a sensitivity to:

Sometimes, a migraine attack is accompanied by nasal congestion, nausea, and vomiting. A migraine attack can last as long as three days or as short as four hours. If your headache lasts longer than three days, it may be status migrainosus, which requires immediate medical attention.

What Is the Postdrome Stage?

After your throbbing headache subsides, you may experience this post-migraine phase, which resembles a hangover. A vast majority of migraine sufferers experience prodromal symptoms that may include:

  • Tiredness, sluggishness, or muscle aches
  • Confusion, not being able to concentrate
  • A depressed or euphoric shift in your mood

These symptoms may be as severe and draining as the migraine attack. It can take one or two days for the symptoms to ease before the sufferer can return to a normal routine. If you regularly experience these episodes, seek a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

What Can I Do About the Migraine Stages?

No matter which of the migraine stages you’re suffering from, Dr. Hosny can recommend treatment so you can regain control of your life. Every stage of an episode causes life-altering symptoms that hinder you from living your life normally. Dr. Hosny is an expert physician who specializes in treating this incapacitating condition.

Migraine treatments give you much-needed relief and restore your ability to live a normal, active lifestyle. Dr. Hosny uses a multimodal approach for treatment, relying on various techniques to address your condition. Depending on the severity and frequency of your migraine episodes, he may recommend treatments, such as:

Which Treatment Is Best for Me?

Your diagnosis, as well as the migraine stages you experience, determines the treatment you receive. The pain management specialists at the Advanced Headache Center treat any underlying problems for more permanent results by assessing your headache triggers. Dr. Hosny also spends time educating you to recognize your triggers, learn what causes your migraines and identify the migraine stages as they occur.

If you’re suffering from recurrent migraine headaches that have affected the quality of your life, it’s time to get an effective solution. Contact Dr. Hosny and the team at the Advanced Headache Center for a long-term solution. A personalized treatment plan, which starts with a professional diagnosis, can give you back control of your life.

Dr. Amr Hosny has either authored or reviewed and approved this content. Advanced Headache Center 41 5th Avenue,
New York, NY 10003
(646) 419-3105