How to tell you're having a migraine (part #2)
Before a migraine attack occurs, some people crave certain foods.
"A common craving is chocolate," Dr. Messina says.
Throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
Pulsating pain is a classic sign of migraines. The throbbing is often felt on one side of the head.
In an online survey of patients with migraines, the National Headache Foundation found that 50% "always" have throbbing on one side, while 34% say they "frequently" have this symptom.
Migraine pain often burrows behind the eye.
People will blame it on eye strain and many will get their eyes checked, but that won't make their headaches any better, Dr. Messina says.
"A lot of people will say, 'My neck gets stiff and then I get a headache.' Well, it's probably the early stage of the migraine," Dr. Messina says. "Or after a migraine they'll get that neck symptom or they'll have throbbing pain at the back of their neck."
In an online survey, the National Headache Foundation found 38% of migraine patients "always" have neck pain and 31% "frequently" have neck pain during migraine headaches. (The Foundation receives support from GlaxoSmithKline, maker of migraine medicine.)
If you have to go a lot, it can mean a migraine is coming.
It's one of the many symptoms people experience just before a migraine. These warning signs, also known as the prodome phase of a migraine, can arrive as little as an hour or as much as two days before the start of headache pain.
Yawning a lot is another tip-off that a migraine is about to strike.
Unlike regular "I'm tired" yawning, it may be excessive and occur every few minutes.
In one 2006 study in the journal Cephalalgia, about 36% of migraine patients reported yawning was one of the signs of an impending migraine.
Numbness or tingling
Some people with migraines have sensory aura.
They may have a temporary lack of sensation or a pins-and-needles feeling, typically on one side of the body, moving from the fingertips through the arm and across the face.
Nausea or vomiting
According to data from the American Migraine Study II, a mail survey of more than 3,700 people with migraines, 73% experience nausea and 29% have vomiting. (The study was funded by a drug manufacturer.)
A recent analysis of the National Headache Foundation's American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention study found people with frequent migraine-related nausea have more severe pain and more trouble getting relief from medication than migraine sufferers with little or no nausea.
Light, noise, or smells trigger or worsen pain
In the throes of a migraine attack, the migraine sufferer tends to seek refuge in a dark, quiet place. Bright lights and loud noises can trigger a migraine or intensify the pain. The same is true of certain odors.
"Once you've already got a migraine, smells can seem more intense and make it worse," Dr. Calhoun says. "But a smell can also trigger a migraine in someone who didn't have one before [he or she] walked past the perfume counter."