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Four Phases of Migraines

This story is a supplement to the feature "Why Migraines Strike" which was printed in the August 2008 issue of Scientific American.

Unlike most headaches, migraine has distinct stages, although not all sufferers
experience each one—a perplexing facet of the disorder.

PRODROME -- 60% Reported to Experience
Typical features: Difficulty concentrating, yawning,  fatigue, and sensitivity to light and noise.
Duration: A few hours to a few days

AURA -- 30% Reported to Experience
Typical features: Visual illusions of sparks and lights, often followed by blind or dark spots in the same configuration as the earlier bright hallucinations.
Duration: 20 to 60 minutes

HEADACHE -- 100% Reported to Experience
Typical features: Excruciating pain accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting. Sometimes the pain affects half the head.
Duration: 4 to 72 hours

POSTDROME -- 70% Reported to Experience
Typical features: Persistence of sensitivity to light
and movement, as well as lethargy, fatigue and difficulty focusing; some patients describe this as a “zombie” phase.
Duration: A few hours to a few days

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