17 Signs You're Having a Migraine


Migraine headaches can be severe, but not all severe headaches are migraine. It is important to differentiate between the two so you can receive the best treatment possible to reduce severity and frequency of migraine attacks.


To diagnose a migraine, a doctor will usually look at your history and symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Pain on one side or both sides of your head
  • Pain that has a pulsating, throbbing quality
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds and sometimes smells
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting

Additional symptoms can include:

PRODROME (Pre-migraine, 1-2 days before)

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Food cravings
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Neck stiffness
  • Uncontrollable yawning

AURA (Can occur during or before)

  • Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
  • Vision loss
  • Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
  • Speech or language problems (aphasia)

To diagnose your headaches or attacks, keep a headache diary and speak to your doctor if your headaches become unbearable. However, see your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you experience any of the following warning signs:

  • An abrupt, severe headache like a thunderclap
  • Headache with fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
  • Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
  • A chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
  • New headache pain if you're older than 50