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4 Phases of a Migraine
Recognizing Phases Can Help Sufferers Better Track and Manage Care

When managing anything in life, knowing what to expect can help you prepare physically and mentally for what’s to come. This holds true for managing migraines, the painful, often chronic, severe, and even debilitating head pain that sidelines millions of people annually in the US and across the world. 

Understanding the four phases of migraines can help sufferers and their healthcare professionals manage migraine symptoms and treatment plans. However, each person experiences migraines in a unique pattern. Some people may have all four phases in the same order each time; others may repeat phases or skip some phases. 

Tracking symptoms and phases over time can help create a care plan specific to each patient’s specific pattern. Some patients say that certain symptoms, such as vision problems, fatigue, neck pain, and/or difficulty concentrating, can alert them that a migraine is near, and help them prepare. 

 The 4 phases include: 

  • Prodrome: This stage signals that a migraine is coming. It can begin hours or days before the attack phase. Some symptoms include fatigue, food cravings, irritability, frequent yawning, and/or thirst. 
  • Aura: This stage lasts about an hour and can include reversible and temporary neurological symptoms, such as visual, auditory, speech and other sensory disturbances.
  • Attack: Symptoms can include sensitivity to light or sound, nausea and/or vomiting, and throbbing head pain
  • Postdrome: Sometimes called the “migraine hangover,” its symptoms include exhaustion, body aches, and trouble concentrating. 

It’s also important to know one’s stages because changes in patterns can signal that something else in addition to migraines is affecting a patient’s health. 

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