In order to treat your attacks, you have to be able to identify them. Are there some that are worse than others? Can you describe the onset?

Being able to answer these questions will help you choose the proper acute treatment. Read more for a description of migraine’s phases. One individual can suffer from different types of attacks (for example, an attack with a rapid onset in the neck, another which starts slowly as a little headache…). The stages of migraine attacks are:

  • Prodrome (not for all migraine sufferers): some people feel warning symptoms up to 24 hours before the onset of the attack. It can be fatigue, irritability, sugar craving, yawning, or a frequent need to go to the bathroom.
  • Aura (20% of migraine sufferers get it, but not during every attack): visual symptoms (flashing lights, loss of vision, kaleidoscope), but also numbness and speech impairment can occur (to know more about aura).
  • Onset of the attack: it is a key moment. Sometimes pain increases quickly. Other times, a little headache can last for hours before migraine symptoms become apparent (throbbing pain, nausea). The acute treatment should be taken during this stage.
  • Intense stage: pain is severe, temples are throbbing, nausea is overwhelming, light is unbearable… It is often too late to treat the attack, as it is well established, and you suffer in your bed… or worse, at work!
  • Resolution: either following a treatment, spontaneously or following sleep. Pain decreases and symptoms disappear
  • Post-attack: It is not uncommon to feel tired or to have a small, persistent headache in the hours or day following an attack. Knowing the stages of your attacks helps you use acute treatment efficiently.

Graph: Stages of migraine Pre-headache / Headache / Post-headache Prodromes / Aura / Headache / Postdromes 6 to 10 hours / 10 to 30 min (<1hour) / 4 to 72 hours / 1 hours to > 24 hours