Types of migraine

Migraine manifests in different ways, but a person experiencing a migraine can go through four distinct phases. The main headache phase of migraine typically lasts from 4 to 72 hours. Prior to this, some individuals can experience pre-migraine warning signs, including fatigue and sleep disorders, hours or even days before the attack. This is known as the ‘prodromal phase’. Some people also experience aura - visual, sensory and speech disturbances. Individuals may also experience lingering effects of migraine following an attack. Symptoms include altered mood, nausea and fatigue. This is known as the ‘postdromal phase’.

Based on the frequency of the headaches experienced in a month, a migraine can be characterized as episodic or chronic – episodic migraine (EM) is characterized by 0 to 14 headache days per month, while chronic migraine (CM) is characterized by 15 or more headache days per month. There are several types of migraine based on the different symptoms and triggers that people living with migraine can experience. Some of the examples are:

Type of Migraine Characterization
Migraine without aura One of the most common types, experienced by 70-90% of people living with migraine. The headache is usually on one side of the head with a throbbing or pulsating pain. Other symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, photophobia and phonophobia.
Migraine with aura In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, people who experience migraine with aura also experience visual disturbances.
Menstrual migraine This type of migraine is triggered by menstruation and is experienced by approximately 10% of women.
Hemiplegic migraine This is a rare type of migraine, which in addition to the usual symptoms also causes temporary weakness, numbness and tingling, and paralysis on one side of the body.
Vestibular migraine During this type of migraine attack, people experience vertigo dizziness or balance problems in addition to the usual migraine symptoms.
Exercise migraine This type of migraine is triggered by exercising and physical activity and is experienced by 20-40% of people living with migraine.

The symptoms and triggers of migraine can greatly differ from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose and manage.