What To Do When Experiencing Pre-Migraine Symptoms

Migraines can feel mysterious, scary, and nerve-wracking. If you've ever felt one coming on, you might know the fear that can accompany it. But knowing what pre-migraine symptoms to watch out for can prevent symptoms from worsening.

A migraine is a neurological condition that can cause intense headaches and sensory disturbances, according to Cleveland Clinic. It's the sixth most disabling disease globally and impacts about 12% of Americans. In addition to a headache, symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and noise, dizziness, blurry vision, sweating or chills, and loss of appetite. In 15% to 20% of migraines, they occur with an aura, which is a set of sensory, motor, and speech disturbances. Auras can be present for as short as a few minutes to as much as an hour. They can include seeing flashing lights or bright spots, speech changes, tingling skin, changes in smell or taste, and ringing in the ears.

Signs a migraine may be coming and how to treat it

There are four stages of a migraine: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome (via Mayo Clinic). While not everyone will progress through all four stages, there are some prodrome symptoms to watch out for that could mean a migraine is coming. In the prodrome, or pre-headache stage, you could experience a change in mood, a foggy feeling in your brain, a stiff neck or shoulders, fatigue, frequent yawning, constipation or diarrhea, and cravings for particular foods (per Healthline). These signs could mean that a migraine is coming in just a few hours or a couple of days.

When you experience these pre-migraine symptoms, take action as soon as possible. You should take a prescription or over-the-counter medication right away, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Drink a lot of water and make sure to not skip any meals, even if you're feeling nauseous. Use relaxation techniques to limit your stress. Being in a room that's dark and quiet may help you avoid environmental triggers, and be sure to avoid any known food triggers during this time, as well. Try reducing tension by putting a heating pad or ice pack on your shoulder and neck. If you're prone to migraines, talk to your doctor about developing prevention and treatment plans for next time.