Introduction

Learn more about the most common migraine symptoms and the different stages or phases of attacks. Not everyone will have a ‘typical’ migraine. There are different types of migraine that involve different migraine symptoms. The most common symptoms of a migraine attack include throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting (being sick) and lethargy (lack of energy).

Migraine attack stages or phases

It is often difficult to predict when a migraine attack is going to happen. However, you can often predict the pattern of each attack as there are well defined migraine stages.  It is these stages and their migraine symptoms which distinguish a migraine from a headache.

In adults, we can divide a migraine symptoms attack into four or five stages that lead on from each other:

  • Premonitory or warning phase
  • Aura (not always present)
  • The headache or main attack stage
  • Resolution
  • Recovery or postdrome stage

Learning to recognise the different phases of a migraine attack can be useful. You might suffer from one, all, or a combination of these stages, and the combination of stages may vary from attack to attack. Each phase can vary in length and severity. Recognising different migraine symptoms at different times during your headache attack can give a doctor information which may help diagnosis. Also, taking medication before the symptoms have fully developed may reduce the effect of an attack. A child’s migraine attack is often much shorter than an adult’s attack, and it may therefore not be possible to fully make out the different headache phases.

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