Migraine: Types, Characteristics, Symptoms

Migraines are common neurological disorders that affect a significant number of people globally. To effectively manage and diagnose these headaches, it’s essential to understand the various types and their unique features. This article delves into the different kinds of migraines, their symptoms, and their distinctive characteristics.

The different types of migraines are as follows:

  • Hemiplegic Migraine
  • Migraine Without Aura
  • Status Migrainosus
  • Abdominal Migraine
  • Silent Migraine
  • Retinal Migraine
  • Familial Hemiplegic Migraine
  • Vestibular Migraine
  • Ophthalmoplegic Migraine

Hemiplegic Migraine: A Rare Variation

Hemiplegic migraine is a rare type characterized by temporary weakness on one side of the body, along with other neurological symptoms like speech difficulties. Diagnosis can be challenging due to its similarity to stroke symptoms.

Consulting a healthcare professional following the International Classification of Headache Disorders is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and suitable treatment.

  • Characteristics: Temporary weakness on one side of the body, speech difficulties.
  • Symptoms: Sensory disturbances, visual disturbances, confusion.

Migraine Without Aura: The Common Type

Migraine without aura is the most prevalent type, lacking the sensory or visual disturbances seen in migraine with aura. The pain is typically moderate to severe and throbbing on one side of the head, often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound. Learn more about what an aura actually looks like.

  • Characteristics: Moderate to severe throbbing pain on one side of the head.
  • Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound.

Status Migrainosus: Enduring Agony for 72 Hours

Status migrainosus is a debilitating condition where a migraine attack lasts for over 72 hours. This prolonged agony requires immediate medical attention to prevent complications and ensure effective management.

  • Characteristics: Prolonged migraine attack lasting more than 72 hours.
  • Symptoms: Intense head pain, persistent nausea, vomiting.

Abdominal Migraine: Affecting the Gut

Abdominal migraine primarily affects children and involves recurring episodes of abdominal pain, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Vigilance in recognizing the symptoms is essential for appropriate care. Learn more about how to diagnose and manage abdominal migraine here.

  • Characteristics: Recurring episodes of abdominal pain in children.
  • Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite.

Silent Migraine: Aura Without the Pain

Silent migraines, also known as acephalgic migraines, present with aura symptoms but no subsequent headache pain. Understanding Silent Migraines along with their diagnosis and treatments is crucial to avoid underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis.

  • Characteristics: Presence of aura symptoms without headache pain.
  • Symptoms: Visual disturbances, speech difficulties, tingling sensations.

Retinal Migraine (Ocular Migraine): Flickering Shadows in Vision

Retinal migraines cause temporary vision loss or visual disturbances in one eye. Identifying and seeking medical attention is essential to rule out other potential causes and manage the condition. Learn more about Retinal migraines along with its symptoms and causes here.

  • Characteristics: Temporary vision loss or disturbances in one eye.
  • Symptoms: Blind spots, flashes of light, visual impairment.

Familial Hemiplegic Migraine: A Hereditary Link

Familial Hemiplegic Migraine (FHM) is a genetic form that runs in families. People with FHM may experience more severe and prolonged attacks, and understanding family history is crucial for accurate diagnosis and management. Learn more about the link between genetics & migraine here.

  • Characteristics: Genetic form running in families, severe and prolonged attacks.
  • Symptoms: Confusion, muscle weakness, visual disturbances.

Vestibular Migraine: Affecting Balance and Spatial Perception

Vestibular migraines are a subset of migraines that affect the vestibular system, responsible for balance and spatial perception. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of vestibular migraines. Learn more about how to identify and manage vestibular migraines here.

  • Symptoms: Dizziness or vertigo, Loss of balance, Nausea or vomiting, and Sensitivity to motion or head movements

Ophthalmoplegic Migraine: A Unique Neurological Phenomenon

Ophthalmoplegic migraine, also known as recurrent ophthalmoplegic neuropathy, is a rare form of migraine that primarily affects the nerves responsible for eye movement. It is characterized by recurrent attacks of eye muscle weakness or paralysis, along with other symptoms that can be concerning for individuals experiencing this condition. Learn more about Ophthalmoplegic migraine’s causes and detailed symptoms here.

  • Characteristics: Ocular Nerve Involvement, Pain Around the Eye, and recurrent and prolonged attacks.
  • Symptoms: Drooping Eyelid, Double Vision, Sensitivity to Light and Sound, Eye Muscle Paralysis.


  1. Are migraines hereditary?
    Yes, familial hemiplegic migraine has a hereditary link, often running in families.
  2. Can silent migraines be diagnosed without headache pain?
    Yes, silent migraines are diagnosed based on the presence of aura symptoms without subsequent headache pain.
  3. Is abdominal migraine common in adults?
    No, abdominal migraines primarily affect children and are less common in adults.
  4. What is the difference between aura and prodrome in migraines?
    Aura occurs before a migraine and involves sensory or visual disturbances, while prodrome refers to early warning symptoms that can occur hours or days before a migraine.
  5. Can status migrainosus lead to complications if left untreated?
    Yes, status migrainosus can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other complications if not promptly treated by a healthcare professional.
  6. How can abdominal migraines be managed in children?
    Managing abdominal migraines in children may involve rest, hydration, avoiding triggers, and using medications prescribed by a pediatrician.
  7. How to differentiate a migraine from a normal headache?
    Migraines are usually more severe, pulsating, and may come with additional symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and sound, while normal headaches are often milder and lack these features.
  8. Are there any non-pharmaceutical treatments for migraines?
    Yes, non-pharmaceutical treatments like relaxation techniques, biofeedback, acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy have shown promise in managing migraines for some individuals.
  9. Are there any warning signs before a migraine attack?
    Some individuals may experience early warning signs or a prodrome phase before a migraine, which can include mood changes, food cravings, and increased yawning.
  10. What are some less commonly diagnosed types of migraines?
    Some less commonly diagnosed types of migraines include vestibular migraine, ophthalmoplegic migraine, hemiplegic migraine, retinal migraine, and abdominal migraine. To learn more about these unique migraine variations, you can read our article “5 Different Types of Migraine That Are Less Commonly Diagnosed.


Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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