Migraines develop in four stages. Patients with migraines with aura, also known as classic migraines, are most likely to experience all four stages. Patients who have common migraines, migraines without aura, will have the same stages, but are not consciously aware of them. The interval between migraines is sometimes referred to as the fifth stage of a migraine.
Stage One – Prodrome
The prodromal phase usually begins one or two days prior to the actual migraine headache. Many migraineurs call this the “premonition” phase. Feelings during this phase are all over the map. Each migraineur has their own personal prodrome profile. Some are giddy, happy, and full of energy, far more so than usual. Others feel a headache start with fatigue, weakness, and irritability. Anything can herald a migraine and each person has to learn their own prodrome signs if they want to learn to stave off the migraine.
Stage Two – Aura
This phase is skipped by most migraineurs, since most migraineurs suffer from common migraine, migraine without aura. For those who experience classic migraine with aura, auras can begin anywhere from five minutes to an hour before the headache begins. Auras are visual effects migraineurs experience. Objects appear to have bright auras or haloes around them. Lightning flashes arc over the field of vision until sight is whited out just before the pain begins.
Stage Three – Headache
This phase lasts anywhere from four to seventy-two hours. Most common is a one-sided headache with a throbbing or pulsing characteristic. The headache is frequently accompanied by stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, smell, or some combination of the three.
Stage Four – Postdrome
Coming away from a migraine can be as unpleasant as building up to one. Postdrome is often characterized by tenderness of the head, neck, and stomach. Weakness and fatigue are also common in this phase.