Migraine often begins as a dull ache and then develops into a constant, throbbing and pulsating pain that you may feel at the temples, as well as the front or back of one side of the head. The pain is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.
The two most prevalent types of migraine are migraine with aura (formerly referred to as classic migraine) and migraine without aura (formerly referred to as common migraine).
Migraine without Aura
Migraine is a vascular headache, which means the headache is associated with changes in the size of the arteries inside and around the skull. During the pre-headache phase, blood vessels constrict; when vascular dilation occurs, the migraine begins. The blood vessels are thought to become inflamed as well as swollen, and it is believed that migraine pain is caused by this inflammation, as well as by the pressure on the swollen walls of the blood vessels.
Most migraine sufferers experience two to four headaches per month; but, some people can get one every few days, and others may only have one or two a year. Most migraine headaches last at least four hours, although very severe ones can last up to a week. Headaches may begin at any time of the day or night; and while a sufferer may wake up with one, a migraine will rarely awaken a person from sleep.
Approximately one-third of migraine sufferers experience an aura prior to the headache pain.
Migraine with Aura
While most migraine sufferers experience visual problems during the headache, you may be someone whose migraine begins with an aura, a manifestation of neurological symptoms. Generally, the aura begins from five to thirty minutes before the actual onset of the headache. You may see wavy or jagged lines, dots or flashing lights; or, you experience tunnel vision or blind spots in one or both eyes. The aura can include vision or hearing hallucinations and disruptions in smell (such as strange odors), taste or touch. It can become even more disconcerting or frightening if it involves feelings of numbness, a "pins-and-needles" sensation or even difficulty in recalling or speaking the correct word. These neurological events may last sixty minutes and will fade as the headache begins.
-this is rare but severe type of migraine with aura, you probably also have a family history of it. The hemiplegic migraine often begins with temporary motor paralysis and/or sensory disturbances on one side of the body, followed by the headache -- within the hour -- which may be accompanied by numbness or the "pins and needles" sensation. When the headache appears, the initial neurological symptoms may disappear.
Also a rare and severe migraine, the ophthalmoplegic migraine’s pain usually surrounds the eyeball and lasts from a few days to a few months. There may be paralysis in the muscles surrounding the eye. If these symptoms occur, you should seek immediate medical attention because the symptoms can be caused by pressure on the nerves behind the eye.
Another rare migraine, the retinal type starts with a temporary, partial, or complete loss of vision in one eye. It is followed by a dull ache behind that eye that may spread to the rest of the head.
Basilar Artery Migraine
This very rare form of migraine is accompanied by dizziness, confusion or lack of balance. It comes on suddenly and can result in fleeting visual disturbances, the inability to speak properly, ringing in the ears, and vomiting. Throbbing occurs in the back of the head. The basilar artery migraine is strongly related to hormonal influences and primarily strikes young adult women and adolescent girls; as sufferers age, the migraine with aura may replace the basilar artery type.
It is difficult to diagnose this migraine because the pain is felt in the abdomen. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur, and the pain usually occurs in the middle of the abdomen. The attack typically lasts hours and occurs mostly in children as a forerunner of migraine.
Migraine in women can often be linked to hormone changes. Many women say they experienced their first migraine in the same year as their first menstrual period. Most female sufferers are more susceptible to an attack around the time of their period but true menstrual migraine is defined as occurring within two days either side of the first day of a monthly period and at no other time.