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Types of Migraines

Home > Treatment Articles > Migraine Articles > Types of Migraines

Migraine is a complex and very individual condition with many different types of migraine so that initially it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint exactly what you are suffering from. However, once the correct diagnosis has been done, you find the right symptomatic migraine treatment that works for you and you learn to control your condition, you can go on to live a normal life virtually free from attacks.

Here are some of the different types of migraine:

  • Classic migraines are common and the distinguishing symptom is an aura a few minutes before the onset of the migraine. This aura can consist of flashing lights, seeing zigzag lines and may even include temporary vision loss. The classic migraine symptoms can include throbbing pain in the forehead, temple or jaw, speech difficulty, sudden weakness in an arm or leg, and a general feeling of confusion. This migraine type can last up to 2 days.
  • Common migraines do not have the aura preceding the migraine attack. However other symptoms can occur before the onset and these can include mental vagueness, mood swings, fatigue, the retention of fluids, diarrhea or increased urination and nausea and vomiting. Once the migraine starts, there will be a painful throbbing headache which can be on just one side of the head. This type of migraine can last up to 4 days.
  • Hemiplegic Migraines are a much rarer form of migraine and even come in two variations – familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM) and sporadic hemiplegic migraine (SHM). Both often start in childhood and then stop in the adult years. They can be difficult to diagnose because there is no diagnostic test available and the symptoms can be confused with other conditions (such as a stroke or epilepsy) – with paralysis on one side of the body, numbness, fever, loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, light and sound sensitivity, as well as a throbbing headache and an aura. This migraine type usually only lasts up to 24 hours.
  • Basilar Artery Migraines are characterized by a disturbance of a major brain artery and the symptoms may include severe headache, vertigo, double vision, slurred speech and poor muscle coordination. This type of migraine occurs mostly in children or teens.
  • Ophthalmoplegic migraine is where the main migraine symptom is a headache felt in the eye. There may be vomiting but as the headache continues, the eyelid droops and those nerves responsible for eye movement become paralyzed. This type of migraine may continue for days or even weeks.
  • Ocular migraines. There are a group of different types of migraines including ocular migraines which are all eye migraines. Pain is only one possible symptom while other symptoms include nausea, congestion and visual disturbances. Strange visual disturbances, usually lasting less than an hour but with no headache usually indicate an ocular migraine.
  • Carotidynia is where extreme pain can be felt in the jaw or neck with tenderness and swelling over the carotid artery in the neck. This is more common in older people and the attacks can occur as often as several times per week. This type of migraine can last for a few minutes to up to several hours.
  • Headache-free migraine is where the aura can occur without any headache. In addition to visual problems, there can be nausea and vomiting, constipation or diarrhea too.
  • Vestibular migraines are where there is an overlap between the symptoms of dizziness (vertigo) and the migraine itself. The room or environment can feel like it is spinning and you may experience motion sickness. A migraine headache can start before, during or after the vertigo experience. Other symptoms can include pressure, pain or ringing in the ears or muffled hearing. This vertigo in this type of migraine can last from a few minutes to an hour although in rare cases, it can last for several days or even weeks.
  • Benign exertional headaches are a type of migraine brought on by over exertion such as by running, lifting, sneezing or bending. This type of migraine normally only lasts for a few minutes.
  • Status migraine is fortunately a very rare type of migraine which manifests with very intense pain which can be so severe as to require hospitalization. This rare type of migraine can last for longer than 72 hours.

 

With all these types of migraines, it is important to identify the migraine triggers for your particular type so that you can avoid such triggers. Following a healthy lifestyle will also go a long way to improving your quality of life. The word migraine is derived from the Greek word hemicrania and this literally means “half of the head”. As most types of migraines affect only one side of the head, this is very appropriate.

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