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The Stages of a Migraine

For many sufferers, a migraine headache can be broken down into several distinct parts or stages. If you can learn to recognize the separate stages of your migraines, you may be able to manage them more effectively.

At BCS Medical, our experienced care team, under the leadership of Dr. William Renner, can help you get a handle on your migraine headaches. Here’s what Dr. Renner wants his new and existing patients from around the Bryan, Texas area to understand about the separated stages of a migraine.

The first stage: pre-headache

A migraine can start to affect you hours or even days before your head starts to ache. The pre-headache phase of a migraine is also sometimes called the premonitory or prodrome phase.

Most people with migraines experience a distinct pre-headache phase with symptoms such as:

  • Sensitivity to sight and sound stimuli
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Neck or shoulder stiffness
  • Nausea or digestive trouble
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue and frequent yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Depression or irritability

When you’re still in the pre-headache stage, you may be able to take medications, avoid triggers, or employ relaxation techniques to successfully reduce the intensity and duration of your migraine. If you can identify your pre-headache symptoms, you’re already ahead of the game.

Second stage: aura

Not everyone who suffers from migraines experiences this phase. However, up to 1 in 3 migraine patients notice a distinct aura stage at the beginning of an attack. The aura stage can be an effective warning sign of an impending migraine, letting you take steps to handle the oncoming headache.

Aura symptoms can be quite unique. During this phase, you experience distorted perception and changed vision. You could see a pattern of shifting light, or your vision might be darkened or blurry in some areas. Some migraine patients can suffer from serious vision loss as part of the aura phase.

It usually takes at least five minutes for visual symptoms of aura to pass, but your aura symptoms can also last for more than an hour, and, for some, can pose a serious complication in day-to-day life.

Third stage: headache

When your full-on migraine arrives, you’ve entered the headache phase. Not all migraine headaches are maximum intensity. However, a bad migraine can last for days, and your pain can quickly become debilitating.

In addition to pain on one or both sides of your head, which can shift from side to side, you could also suffer from headache phase symptoms including:

  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and smell stimuli
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia

The postdrome stage

Once your migraine headache has passed, it’s common to experience a final, distinct postdrome stage. Some people call this stage the migraine hangover. You might feel drained and exhausted, achy, dizzy, or brain-fogged. Increased sensitivity to light can also be a part of the postdrome migraine phase.

The length of the postdrome stage varies from person to person. You might benefit from avoiding known triggers and staying relaxed during this time.

Handling your headache

At BSC Medical, we can help you better understand and manage every stage of your migraines. Dr. Renner takes a holistic and integrative approach to treating migraines.

As part of your fully customized migraine treatment plan, Dr. Renner might recommend nutrition therapy and nutritional sensitivity testing, stress management support, or corrective exercise or chiropractic care.

To better understand and manage all the stages of your migraines, and get chronic migraines under control, get in touch with Dr. Renner and the BCS Medical team today. You can schedule your initial consultation appointment over the phone, or book online now.

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