The Stages of a Migraine


There is nothing worse than having a migraine. It can make you cancel your plans for the day. It can affect your job. There are so many treatment plans and options that can also make life harder. The best thing to do is to learn the patterns of a migraine. Once you learn how they come in stages, you can easily plan a treatment to knock it out or you can even learn how to avoid those triggers a little easier. No one knows for sure what causes a migraine, and the solutions vary from person to person, so the very best thing is to get to know yourself a little better. Learning the stages is just the first part.


This is known as the pre-headache state. You may feel like something isn’t quite right. It is true that you may not realize that this is your pre-migraine self yet, but with a little bit of practice, you can recognize the symptoms for you. You can catch this phase early enough to avoid the triggers, practice a little mindfulness, or even take some medication and feel like yourself again. There are some things that most people experience before the migraine-like:

•    Being irritated for no real reason

•    Having to go pee more than normal

•    Excessive Yawning

•    Cravings for foods

•    Sensitive Senses like sound, smells, light sensitivity, and blurry vision

•    Losing your thoughts

•    Trouble expressing yourself

One of the most fascinating tips that we have found is that if you take this time and slow down, you could avoid a migraine altogether. Relax. Take a hot bath. Drink some hot tea. Get a journal and write down every thought you have. Try to focus on the things that are bothering you the most. Clearing your head may help you more than anything else because it takes the stress trigger away. Stress is the most common trigger.

This pre-migraine state can appear up to one week before your migraine decides to show up. That is plenty of time to try to change things to prevent it. Now, it can occur just an hour ahead of time. So, your best plan of action is to slow it down and decide which is the first step of avoiding a migraine is best for you. There will be many factors to consider like your job and family when you try to decide how to best avoid the migraine.


This is probably one of the most dreaded stages of a migraine. It includes pain or numbness in your extremities, loss or blurred vision, and the inability to think clearly. It can occur just a few minutes to an hour before the headache itself begins.

There isn’t a lot you can do to avoid the headache at this point. You have already hit the trigger which means it is time to switch to relief and pain management. Wait! Before you reach for that bottle of pain pills, try water therapy. Sit in cool bath or shower in the dark and it may help to reduce the duration of your headache. It will also help to relieve some of the pain in your limbs as well. At this point in the migraine, you are almost bracing for the full-blown migraine and trying to prevent it from disrupting your next few days. Get and stay hydrated. It is the best thing you can do to control how long your migraine will last. A hydrated mind can heal better. Dehydration will make it worse and it will add to the duration of your migraine.


This is the part that you have been dreading. The headache. You may have tried to prevent it. You may have even done everything you can to avoid the triggers. The best thing for you to do now is to try to rest and hydrate. Relax and try not to focus on anything for too long of a time. You can expect the pain to worsen. It may appear on one side of the head as a throbbing pain. It may feel like someone is drilling into your head. Some of the other things you may experience are nausea. You may throw up. The thought of food may make you feel like you are going to be sick. You may have the inability to sleep. Yet, you will be tired and feel like you need to sleep. You could have a spike in your anxiety. Usually, this is caused because you are stressing over things that you need to do and can’t. You may also have a sensitivity to sound, light and smells. Try laying in a dark room with a cool cloth over your eyes. You will want quiet. That may be the hardest part of having a migraine because quiet can be hard to find.


This is when the headache is over. If you have ever had a migraine, you know that you aren’t going to jump up and run around anytime soon. In fact, you are probably exhausted. Your body may ache. Your muscles may be tired. You may feel like you have a serious hangover, even though you don’t drink. This migraine hangover may make you feel just as bad as the migraine itself. The best thing you can do at this point is to eat a light meal. You don’t want to fill your stomach with heavy foods because you may not be able to keep it down. Soup is perfect. Hydrate, water is always best. It will help you to start feeling better faster. Try to take it easy for a day or two. Give your body time to heal and bounce back from this migraine attack. Try to remember that your triggers can always cause a migraine so take the time to ease back into your routine. Keep track of what you are doing and how you are responding to the migraine. Note what makes a difference and what doesn’t seem to work. Writing it all down will help you be able to remember it and make it easier to talk to your doctor later.

Migraine Triggers

There is no one set of triggers that will work for everyone. No one knows exactly what causes them. No one can prevent them with medications. There simply aren’t any medications that are designed to prevent them. If you trigger is allergy or hormone related, you may find that you can prevent them with birth control or allergy pills. The other ways to prevent them may mean a full lifestyle change.

For instance, if your trigger is alcohol or caffeine, you may have to break the addiction to these before you can start avoiding them. You might have to learn a new coping skill that will lead you away from alcohol. Caffeine may make it easier for you to get up in the morning, but it may be what is causing your headaches at night. Both may be very hard to go without at first. You may have to find another way to work around them.

Diet changes are not easier either. Sugary foods, convenience foods, and even fast foods may be the easiest to reach, especially after a long day at work, but they often cause migraines. The additives in them react differently. MSG, gluten, and some dairy may be triggers for you. The interesting thing is that you may be able to cook the exact same foods at home and not get a migraine. Different restaurants may add different things to foods, so you may have to avoid those restaurants. No one said finding your trigger is easy, but it is necessary to find the triggers to keep you from having to deal with the pain. Your best plan would be to keep track of what you eat when you eat it, and where you get it from so that you can begin to identify the triggers and what they are associated with.

Stress is the hardest one to change. You may not be able to switch your job. You may not be able to cancel that exam. The only way to prevent a stress trigger is to change how you deal with it. Pick up a hobby. Write it out. Find someone to talk to. There are many healthy ways to deal with stress. You simply need to find the one that is the best match for your lifestyle.

The easiest trigger to prevent is dehydration. Dehydration can be caused at any time of the year, but you are more likely to suffer from it in the summer months. You need to drink water every day. Avoid sugary sports drink that could dehydrate you worse. Sodas can dehydrate you as well. Water and juice are the best things to drink. Unsweet tea could work, but don’t add the sugarless alternatives that have aspartame in them because aspartame is a common trigger. You can continue to live a normal life and avoid migraines. It takes paying attention to your body and learning your triggers. Once you do, all you have to do is learn the stages so you know how to avoid migraines.