What Is Migraine Prodrome?




Migraine prodrome and migraine aura are two stages that you may experience. While there are other stages of migraine, we’ll be focusing on the first 2 stages today! As we better understand the differences in the symptoms of migraine prodrome and aura, more articles related to the remaining stages of a migraine will be released so remember to stay tuned! Knowing what is migraine aura will be helpful to differentiate between migraine prodrome and migraine aura too!




What Is A Prodrome Migraine?

According to AMF, migraine prodrome is a premonitory phase of a migraine attack. It usually comes before migraine aura. You may use the picture above as a reference. For those who wonder how long migraine prodrome last, they can safely assume that the prodromal migraine can occur anywhere between a few hours to a few days before the actual attack. It is also said to be the “first part of an attack when the ‘normal’ equilibrium of the central nervous system has been disrupted”.

The good news is that migraine prodrome symptoms are easy to identify. When a migraine prodrome occurs, we may begin to notice that something isn’t right, which is why some people refer to prodrome as a “warning sign” before an attack! At other times, it may be the loved ones or people close to the person experiencing migraine who notices the symptoms of migraine prodrome before we do. As mentioned previously, not everyone will experience the prodromal stage of migraine.

Approximately 30% of migraine warriors experience the migraine prodrome stage. Some of the migraine prodromal symptoms may include:

  • Irritability/Excitement

  • Anxiety
  • Depression

  • Repetitive yawning

  • Dizziness
  • Increased frequency and the urge to urinate

  • Food cravings

  • Increased thirst

  • Migraine light sensitivity (photophobia)

  • Migraine sound sensitivity (phonophobia)

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Lack of sleep from migraine

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle/Neck Stiffness

  • Aphasia (difficulty speaking and reading)

  • Cold extremities

  • Bowel changes

  • Memory changes

What Is Migraine Aura?




Migraine auras are mainly visual disturbances. Some migraine aura symptoms include visualizing flashing lights, light spots, sudden bright colored lights, or even temporary loss of sight. We have also provided a list of symptoms that show what migraine aura looks like. Migraine aura images can look like this:


Source: American Migraine Foundation

Migraine visual aura is not the only manifestation of migraine aura. Migraine aura can also be in the form of sensory, motor, or verbal disturbances. You may experience aura with migraine or never experience migraine aura at all. Migraine without aura is possible, just as how it’s possible to experience aura migraine without headache too.

Sensory aura can coincide with migraine visual aura, after or standalone. This is characterized by numbness and tingling on the part of the body which gradually moves to different parts of the body.

Dysphasic aura is another kind of aura, which causes speech or language problems. Commonly, a migraine aura will precede the migraine attack. However, it is possible that it can occur during the attack too.

Some of the top 5 most common migraine auras reported by Migraine Buddy users include fatigue/achiness and tingling in head, visual disturbances, tingling in the neck, and tingling near the eye(s).

Frequent migraine attacks with aura can affect one’s mental health. Having an accountability partner or having an open discussion about the experience can help you feel better and cope with the condition.


Differences Between Migraine Aura And Prodrome

The divide between prodrome and aura has been clarified over the past few years. The latter was defined as being a “focal neurological deficit (visual, sensory, etc.)”, which allowed for the diagnosis of migraine with aura.

By definition, a migraine aura does not last for over 60 minutes. A migraine aura is related to focal cortical activity. On the other hand, prodrome symptoms are more likely linked to different areas of the central nervous system (CNS) and are characterized more by behavioral features. Prodrome symptoms usually last longer and they may not necessarily resolve prior to the onset of pain. Some of the symptoms may even be under the symptoms which accompany the pain phase.

Treatment Of Migraine Prodrome

It is important to seek a medical professional, such as a neurologist or migraine doctor for migraine prodrome treatment. The migraine doctor or neurologist may ask you some questions, such as migraine triggers and so on. This will help identify potential risk factors that can trigger migraine. Some migraine triggers may be related to lifestyle choices, such as the food that you eat. This enables you to know which common migraine triggers you can avoid. For example, caffeine is a migraine trigger for many people. Some migraine triggers are environmental. This may be something that is out of your control, such as weather changes and so on. However, there are some practical guidelines that can help you cope with migraine weather triggers. For example, there are practical tips for summer migraine relief you can try to cope with changes in weather or seasons.

Theoretically, there is currently no cure for migraine. However, you may take preventive steps to prevent the onset of migraine or reduce the migraine frequency by identifying migraine triggers through tracking.

Tracking is also known to help migraine prodrome and migraine aura. It allows you to differentiate the different migraine stages in an objective record for your neurologist. Download your Migraine Buddy app now!

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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