Types of Migraines
Not all migraine headaches are the same and the migraine symptoms do vary between the different types. Migraine headaches are painful and are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Read on about the various types of migraines so that you can help determine which type you may be having. The symptoms that signal a migraine is starting are what is used to describe the main two types of migraine headaches.
Most Common Migraine Types
- A migraine with an aura is what is called a classic migraine. An aura is a warning sign that a migraine is about to begin. About 20% to 30% of migraine sufferers have migraines with auras. An aura typically occurs about an hour prior to the pain and can last for a few minutes to an hour. An aura can include bright flashing dots/lights, blind spots, wavy lines, having unclear vision or a complete loss of vision. Some people describe an aura as a feeling of being “out of whack” or as a very “odd feeling”. Sometimes a sufferer's aura is hard to explain. Some people have tinnitus or a ringing sound in their ears and others may smell things or have changes in the way they smell.
- A migraine without an aura is the most common type of migraine headache. These headaches do not have an aura which occurs prior to the onset of the pain. This type of migraine consists of moderate to severe throbbing pain on one side of the head which is often aggravated by physical activity. Sufferers of migraines without auras report that they are extra sensitive to light and to sound.
- An abdominal migraine is a type of migraine most often seen in children aged five to nine although some adults do have this type of migraine. This migraine consists mainly of pain in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting. Children who have these migraines often grow up to have migraine headaches with and without auras.
- A basilar migraine is characterized with a moderate to severe headache with neurological symptoms which start at the base of the brain or at both sides of the brain simultaneously. Most people with basilar migraines say that they have visual symptoms, trouble hearing, jerky eye movements, in-coordination and a prickly feeling on their body. There is typically a severe throbbing headache on the back of the head on both sides.
- Ophthalmoplegic migraine headaches are characterized by having complete blindness in one eye. This symptom is often followed by phonophobia or a intense fear of sounds, feeling nauseous and a mild headache. The blindness usually disappears by the time the pain of the headache is over.
- A hemiplegic migraine is a rare type of migraine that has two variations: familial hemiplegic and sporadic hemiplegic. Both types often begin in childhood and cease during adulthood. Both are hard to diagnose because the symptoms are much like the symptoms of stroke and epilepsy. The difference between the two variations is that the familial migraine can be traced back to family history and has been linked to gene mutations on chromosomes 1 and 19. The symptoms of a hemiplegia migraine (both types) can consist of episodes or long auras which can last for many days or even weeks, paralysis on one side of the body, fever, headache, muscle in-coordination, nausea/vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.
- An ocular migraine typically begins with prolonged periods (up to 18 hours) of mood swings, excessive yawning, cravings for food and frequent urination. It also typically includes having small blind spots in the visual field and being very sensitive to light and sound. A throbbing headache follows which is unilateral in nature.
- An ice pick migraine is one in which the sufferer feels a sharp jabbing sensation around an eye or in the forehead region. Some people say that the pain is disabling. Two-thirds of ice pick migraines only last up to ten seconds. Ice pick migraines are also what many call “stabbing headaches”. This type of migraine can occur up to fifty times a day and research has shown that only about 2% of the population have these headaches and that they occur in middle-aged adults.
- A nocturnal migraine is just as the name suggests: it is a migraine which occurs at night. Studies have shown that these migraines are related to changes in adrenalin levels which reach their peak release during the late night and early morning hours.
- A pregnancy migraine usually occurs in pregnant women during their first two months of pregnancy. This type of migraine usually starts out dull and then becomes a throbbing pain in the temple region or at the base of the head. Sometimes there is nausea and vomiting with the headache and some women report having visual auras consisting of wavy/jagged lines or flashing dots/lights.
- A migraine aura without headache is also called a “silent migraine”. This type of migraine typically occurs later in life and more often in men than in women. About 20% of migraine sufferers have this condition which can include having slurred speech, numbness, face pain and ringing in the ears.