A migraine is a neurological condition that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing headache on one side of the head. Diagnosis is based primarily on clinical signs and symptoms, and if there is any uncertainty, you may need to have diagnostic tests to confirm your condition. While there are many different medication treatments available for migraines, prevention is really the cornerstone of migraine management.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you get rid of a migraine?

    To stop a migraine in its tracks, over-the-counter remedies such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen can be helpful, as well as prescription treatments like triptans or oral steroids. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments can be effective for many, too—ginger, Tiger Balm, and lavender oil all have good research behind their usage for migraines.

  • How long do migraines last?

    Migraines may last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours if untreated. It can be difficult to predict the duration of a migraine, but tracking the stages you go through can be helpful. 

    Migraine stages include: 

    1. Prodrome
    2. Aura
    3. Headache
    4. Postdrome

    You may not experience every stage with every migraine, but keeping a migraine journal can help you identify patterns.

  • What helps prevent migraines?

    Getting enough sleep, avoiding triggering foods and smells, regulating caffeine intake, managing stress, and doing yoga/meditation are effective migraine prevention measures for many. Taking magnesium and trying acupuncture have also been shown to help. If you're experiencing five or more migraines per month, your doctor may suggest a daily prescription medication to help with prevention.

  • What do migraines feel like?

    A migraine may feel like a headache all over your head, in the front or back of your head, or on one or both sides of your head. Migraine headaches are often described as throbbing, pounding, and persistent. You may have other symptoms, too, like neck/shoulder pain, light sensitivity, nausea, and dizziness.

Key Terms

Page Sources
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  9. American Migraine Foundation. Understanding migraine with aura.

  10. US Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women's Health. Migraine. Updated April 1, 2019.

  11. American Migraine Foundation. The timeline of a migraine attack. Updated January 18, 2018.

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Additional Reading