16 Signs of an Oncoming Migraine

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16 Signs of an Oncoming Migraine

If you suffer from migraines, you’ve probably become really good at identifying when you’re about to get a migraine because of the symptoms you experience a day or two before it arrives. Many people experience two distinct phases of symptoms that signal a migraine is coming: the prodrome and the aura. It’s important to remember that the timing, duration, and types of migraine symptoms can vary from person to person and even from instance to instance. It can be helpful to keep a journal of the symptoms you experience so you can become more attuned at identifying when a migraine is about to happen.


In the prodrome stage, some people see small signs that within the next day or two a migraine will occur. These symptoms include a change in bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea), depression, craving carbohydrates or certain foods, feeling “hyper” or irritable, and stiffness in the neck muscles.


The aura stage usually occurs anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes before the onset of the painful headache and can last anywhere from five minutes to the entire duration of the migraine. Not everyone who gets migraines experiences auras. Those who do usually have symptoms that are either visual, aural, or physical. For instance, some people will get blind spots in their vision or will see zigzag patterns or flashes of bright lights. Some people hear loud ringing or roaring sounds like airplane jets. Physical symptoms include pins and needles or loss of mobility or heaviness in a limb. Some migraine sufferers can have problems remembering or pronouncing certain words. If you’ve never experienced an aura before, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to rule out a more serious medical condition.

By understanding and keeping track of the symptoms you experience before a migraine, you can be better prepared to deal with it. Use the checklist below to see how many of these pre-migraine symptoms you have before each “attack.”

Migraine Symptom Checklist

Do you experience Prodrome Symptoms always, sometimes or never?

  1. Irritability
  2. Depression
  3. Euphoria
  4. Fatigue
  5. Food cravings
  6. Muscle stiffness
  7. Constipation
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Sensory sensitivities (smells/light)

Do you experience Aura Symptoms always, sometimes or never?

  1. Blind spots
  2. Blurred vision
  3. Seeing patterns (zigzags)
  4. Tinnitus (rushing or roaring sounds)
  5. Pins and needles sensations
  6. Numbness
  7. Speech or language difficulties
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