The Different Types of Migraines Explained

Posted July 30, 2020 by in Health + Fitness
Woman with migraine headache

About 14.7 percent of the world’s population suffers from different types of migraines. That makes migraine the third most common disease globally, behind only dental caries and tension-type headache. In America alone, over 29.5 million people are affected by the disease. 

Different kinds of migraines have different symptoms. In today’s post, we break down all the types of migraines one can suffer from. This way, it’s easier to know what type of migraine you’re dealing with should ever suffer from one.

Understanding these categories makes it easier for you to seek personalized treatment that’s ideal for you. Generally, there are seven types of migraines.

Keep reading to learn more:

migrane headache

Migraine Without Aura

Also known as the common migraine, migraine without aura is the most widespread of all migraine types. Typically, this migraine lasts anywhere between four and 72 hours. 

The main symptoms of this type of migraine are a throbbing pain that begins from one side of your head, dizziness, increased sensitivity to sound and light, and nausea. You may also feel pain when moving around.  

Within this category of migraines, there’s a nuance. If you experience over 15 migraines a month for three months in a row, then you have chronic migraines. The symptoms of chronic migraines are similar to those of episodic migraines. 

People who suffer common migraines may feel strange hours or before the headache sets in. This strange feeling is medically known as a prodrome, which is the initial attack of a migraine. A prodrome can cause:

  • Irritability 
  • Difficulty reading or speaking
  • Frequent yawning
  • Increased urination
  • Food cravings
  • Muscle fatigue 
  • Trouble sleeping (which could also be caused by having too much coffee)
  • Nausea, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Poor concentration
  • A change in vision

Once the migraine heals, you may experience a postdrome or a migraine hangover. The postdrome might trigger moodiness, sensitivity to touch and tiredness

Migraine With Aura

Roughly 25 percent of people with migraines also experience aura. Symptoms of the aura include visual disturbances before the onset of the migraine and unpleasant feelings such as a numb tongue or face. You may also feel as if there are needles and pins all over your body.

The duration of the aura usually ranges from a few minutes to an hour before the migraine sets in. The migraine itself will typically last between four and 72 hours.  

Migraine with aura can be broken down into four subtypes:

Typical Aura: This type of migraine with aura can cause visual symptoms, including temporary blind spots, stars, shimmering spots, geometric patterns, flashes of light, and zig-zag lines.

Brainstem Aura: Symptoms of brainstem aura seem to come from the brainstem. You may experience double vision, difficulty speaking, vertigo, and ringing ears.

Hemiplegic Migraine: Patients with hemiplegic migraine experience such symptoms as a loss of strength of the muscles or motor weakness. These symptoms are usually on one side of the body. You may also feel tired or confused. 

Retinal Migraine: Also known as optical migraine or ocular migraine, this disease differs from a typical aura migraine in that the person only has visual problems in one eye. 

Menstrual Migraine

Menstrual migraines are a different type of migraine headaches that occur only in women. These migraines are triggered by hormonal changes and coincide with your period. Menstrual migraines can occur with or without aura.

So, what triggers menstrual migraines? Well, the US Office on Women’s Health suggests that a sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone might be the cause. This drop usually happens just before the start of your periods.

Up to 19 percent of women experience menstrual migraines. Unfortunately, these migraines tend to last longer and are more painful than other types of migraines. 

Vestibular Migraine

Vestibular migraines are among the most common migraines, affecting up to half of all people who suffer migraines. These migraines last anywhere between a few seconds and several days.

Common symptoms of vestibular migraines include dizziness, vertigo, and problems with balance. Often, you experience these symptoms when you move your head or see something highly stimulating. Unlike in other different migraines, however, the vertigo attack in vestibular migraine does not necessarily occur before the onset of a headache. 

Migraine Without Headache

Sometimes, you get various aura symptoms but not experience the actual headache. These symptoms usually last an hour or less. A migraine without a headache is sometimes known as an acephalgic migraine, a painless migraine, or a silent migraine.

Migraines without headaches are quite common among older people.

Abdominal Migraine

Sometimes, a migraine can cause debilitating pain in your abdomen, instead of giving you a headache. This type of migraine is referred to as abdominal migraine and lasts between one and 72 hours.

Abdominal migraines are more common in children than in adults. However, most children who suffer abdominal migraines develop migraine headaches during adolescence. 

Abdominal migraines may cause pain near your belly button and make you feel nauseous. These migraines can also cause vomiting, adversely affect your appetite, or make you look pale. Common triggers include stress, certain food additives, and bright lights.

Physicians treat abdominal migraines using the same medications as other migraines with headaches.

Status Migrainosus

Status migrainosus refers to any type of migraine that lasts longer than the standard maximum of 72 hours. The migraine could be with or without aura. 

Health experts point out that overusing migraine medications might be the cause. Other triggers include:

  • changes in medication
  • changes in sleep or food habits
  • changes in weather
  • hormones
  • head and neck traumas
  • illnesses, such as a sinus infection or the flu
  • tooth, jaw or surgery
  • stress

Status migrainosus is highly frustrating. The headache can respond to medication for a while, only to flood back, sometimes worse than before. 

You Now Understand Different Types of Migraines

When you suffer a migraine, it’s easy to focus on how you can stop the intense pain or discomfort than in identifying the exact kind of migraine you have. By knowing about the various types of migraines, however, it’s easy to pinpoint what is ailing you and prepare to seek the appropriate treatment.

Are you interested in more information about migraines? Please keep visiting our blog for featured articles.