Migraine is a very common condition that is thought to affect around 1 in 7 people. People who experience migraine usually suffer from a severe headache but it can be accompanied by other symptoms. In this article, we explore the different types of migraine that people can experience.
Migraine Without Aura
This type of migraine is the most common type and accounts for between 70% – 90% of all migraines. A migraine without aura is when a migraine attack happens with no warnings signs.
The headache will usually feel like a banging, pulsating, or throbbing pain and usually affects one side of the head. It is normally painful or very painful. The head pain is often accompanied by other symptoms such as feeling nauseous or being sick and being unusually sensitive to light or sound.
The duration of an attack is at least 4 hours and can last up to 3 days (72 hours). Sometimes the migraine can be aggravated by normal daily activities, such as walking.
Migraine With Aura
Migraines with aura will have many of the same symptoms of migraines without aura such as a severe, throbbing headache. However, with this migraine type people will experience temporary warning symptoms, known as aura, before the onset of the migraine. These are neurological symptoms.
There are many different types of aura symptoms and different people will have different aura symptoms. The most common type of aura is visual aura. This can cause visual problems such as blind spots, flashing lights, and zig-zag lines. Other aura symptoms include:
- Pins and needles sensations or feelings of numbness
- Trouble speaking
Aura symptoms typically start and gradually spread over a 5 – 20 minute period but last less than an hour. Aura symptoms will either be accompanied by a migraine headache, or a migraine headache will start shortly afterwards.
There are other aura symptoms that are less common. These include feeling confused and muscle weakness. People with these less typical aura symptoms are often seen by specialists to rule out other health conditions.
Chronic migraine is usually diagnosed when a person suffers from headaches on at least 15 days per month, for more than 3 months. Generally, they should have at least 8 days a month where their headache has migraine features. Chronic migraine can be with or without aura.
This is when a person suffers from headaches less than 15 days per month. Episodic migraine can be with or without aura.
Other Types Of Migraine
There are other types of migraine that can occur, although they are less common than migraine with/without aura:
Menstrual migraine is a type of migraine that is closely related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. For these women, migraine generally occurs between 2 days prior to a period and the first 3 days of a period. If you think you suffer from menstrual migraine, it can be useful to keep a diary of when your migraines occur. Further information is available at The Migraine Trust.
Some people can get a migraine that causes weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. This is called a hemiplegic migraine. The weakness usually disappears within 24 hours but it can be a cause of worry because it is similar to signs of a stroke.
Silent migraine is the term for migraine aura without a headache. This is when someone experiences aura symptoms such as visual disturbances, but these symptoms are not accompanied by a migraine headache. If someone has this type of migraine, they most likely need further investigation to rule out other conditions that might have similar symptoms such as stroke.
Other types of migraines, including abdominal migraine and vestibular migraine, can occur. See The Migraine Trust for further information on further migraine types and more general migraine information.
Medication Overuse Headache
This is not a type of migraine but can happen to people with migraines. Medication overuse headache (MOH) can occur if a person uses painkillers too often. This type of headache can happen to people who often take painkillers for their migraines. People who take triptans (like sumatriptan, zolmitriptan) or opioids (like codeine) on 10 days a month or more are at risk of MOH.
People who take paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen, or similar medicines on 15 days a month or more are also at risk of MOH.
If you think you suffer from any of the above types of migraines but have not been diagnosed by a doctor, please speak to your GP. It is important to see a GP so your symptoms can be properly assessed.
If you have already been diagnosed with migraine by a GP and take treatment for it, you may be able to order migraine treatments from our online doctor service. Simple Online Pharmacy is a UK registered online pharmacy and doctor service offering a range of treatments.
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Content Reviewed: 03/12/20