Once you understand the timeline of a migraine, you'll have more success in easing the symptoms. Treating a migraine in the early stages can be immensely helpful. Sometimes, you can even prevent a migraine attack if you recognized the warning signs! So let's delve deeper into what goes on during migraine progression and increase your chance of getting rid of migraine attacks for good.
How Long Does It Take for a Migraine to Pass?
Luckily, migraines don't last forever (although it can feel like it)! The duration and timeline of a migraine attack depend on the type of migraine you're experiencing. While most migraine headaches last approximately 4 hours, severe ones can last for up to 3 days.
The frequency also varies. Some people experience migraines 4-5 times a month, while others may experience them only twice per year. This is because migraine causes and effects vary for each person. It's difficult to tell how long your migraine will last. However, one thing is certain. If your migraine doesn't pass after 3-4 days, you need to visit a doctor or a wellness professional.
What Are the Stages of a Migraine?
There are four stages of a migraine: prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome phase. However, not all individuals experience migraines in the same way. You simply won't go through each stage every time or you may miss some of the symptoms. Keeping a migraine journal will help you find your unique trigger patterns, so you can get the necessary treatment right away. Journaling can also help you notice the warning signs and prevent the next migraine attack.
The Prodrome Phase
The Prodrome, also known as a preheadache or premonitory, phase can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days. This phase may include symptoms such as:
- Sleepiness and yawning
- Muscle stiffness
- Neck and back pain
- Irritability and mood swings
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Trouble with concentration
- Food cravings or thirst
- Digestive issues
These symptoms can likewise warn you about the upcoming migraine attack, so that you can prepare. When you recognize the warning signs of the prodrome phase, you can take preventive measures to stop the migraine headache from developing in the first place. For example, take migraine medications, try natural preventives, or avoid possible triggers, such as certain foods, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep and blue light exposure. Establishing a self-care routine will also help tremendously!
The Aura Phase
This phase occurs only in migraines with aura, which constitutes around a third of all migraine cases. The aura experience can last from 5 minutes to an hour, after which the headache phase follows. Some people can endure the aura and headache phases simultaneously.
The most common symptoms of the aura phase are:
- Blurry vision
- Blind spots or vision loss
- Flashing Lights
- Auditory hallucinations
- Troubles with speaking
- Touch sensitivity
- Numbness or tingling
- Dizziness or vertigo
If you're experiencing these symptoms for the first time, visit a doctor to get a diagnosis. You need to make sure that these symptoms aren't dangerous for your general health. The doctor will also provide you with the necessary medications for easing the oncoming migraine pain.
The Headache Phase
This is the apex phase of a migraine attack, which can last up to 72 hours. Throbbing pain on one or both sides of your head isn't the only symptom of a headache phase. Other symptoms can include:
- Increased sensitivity to sound, light, and smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Sleeping problems
You can ease these symptoms by sitting in a dark, quiet room and practicing relaxation & self-care techniques. You could also try a neuromodulation device such as the Migraine Stopper, which applies pressure into the ear canal and stimulates the nerves, leading to rapid migraine relief.
The Postdrome Phase
The postdrome phase is sometimes called "migraine hangover". According to the American Migraine Foundation, around 80% of people experience it. From the resolution period (when the pain and symptoms gradually stop) to the recovery period, this stage can last a couple of days. The symptoms of the postdrome migraine stage you may experience are:
- Mood changes
- Loss of appetite
- Light sensitivity
- Body aches
- Trouble concentrating
When Should You Worry About a Migraine?
Although the symptoms are usually difficult to handle, migraines are rarely dangerous to your general health. However, the pain may become quite severe. If you're experiencing new symptoms or they're getting worse each time, there might be an underlying cause that you'll need to address. That is why journaling is so important! You need to find out how your migraines are progressing, so that you know when to ask for additional help.
Another time to seek help is when there is lack of response from medications and treatment. When migraine headaches get worse with your regular treatment, it's a clear warning sign that something unusual is happening.
When Should You Go to the Hospital for a Migraine?
You shouldn't take any risks when it comes to your health. As mentioned, if your migraines are getting worse or you're experiencing new symptoms of a migraine headache, you should definitely see a wellness practitioner and seek medical help.
Go to the hospital if you're having:
- severe head pain that doesn't stop and interferes with your normal functions.
- long-lasting migraines (more than 72 hours).
- migraine aura. Aura symptoms are similar to stroke symptoms, so it's important to rule that out.
- unusual symptoms such as a fever, mental confusion, double vision, or paralysis. These symptoms may indicate a stroke, meningitis, or other serious health condition.
- frequent headaches (more than 5 days per month).
It's not recommended to take painkillers frequently and expect lack of negative side-effects to your health. Visit a practitioner of your choice to find out more about alternative treatments.
How Do You Sleep With a Migraine?
People with migraines usually have trouble sleeping. The pain and discomfort may cause sleepless nights, whereas sleepless nights, in turn, worsen the migraine symptoms. So, what can you do to manage your sleep schedule?
Foremost, start by creating a relaxing bedtime ritual. Stay away from blue light, noise, and other stressors and welcome meditation, aromatherapy, or bubble baths before bed. You could also incorporate some light exercise into your bedtime routine such as yoga and stretching.
Also, make sure that your bed is comfortable. There's nothing worse in addition to migraines than waking up with additional back pain. If your mattress is older than 10 years, it's definitely time to buy a new one! Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Use it for sleep only (never for work), so that you can associate relaxation and a good night's sleep with your bedroom.
What Is the Fastest Way to Cure a Migraine?
Unfortunately, there isn't a quick fix when it comes to migraines. However, you can try to lessen the pain or prevent migraine headaches from happening in the first place. That's why understanding migraine symptoms and stages can be so helpful. If you treat your symptoms early, you'll have a greater chance of relief and recovery!
For fast relief, find a quiet and dark place to relax, avoid migraine triggers, incorporate some body movement and try aromatherapy. Likewise, plenty of individuals find the Migraine Stopper as a go-to device for quick, natural and safe treatment. Contact us and stop your migraines in their tracks by getting one today!