How to tell you're having a migraine (part #3)
Activity triggers or worsens pain
Routine activities such as walking or climbing stairs can make migraine pain worse.
Some migraines are induced by exercise (running, weight-lifting) or exertion (sexual activity). People with exertion-induced headaches require a thorough workup to rule out underlying causes, such as a brain aneurysm.
Can't get the words out? Speech difficulties can be another sign that a migraine is on its way.
"A lot of people with migraines will feel like they're blithering," Dr. Messina says. "It's a common description by patients." If you are experiencing speech problems for the first time, contact a doctor to make sure the problems are not related to a more serious issue, such as a stroke.
Weakness on one side of the body
When an arm goes limp, it can be a sign of a migraine.
Some people experience muscle weakness on one side of the body before a migraine attack. This can also be a sign of a stroke, however, so consult a doctor to rule out any other causes.
Vertigo or double vision
One type of migraine, called a basilar-type migraine, can cause dizziness, double vision, or loss of vision.
Some people with migraines may experience balance problems too. In a recent study, Dr. Calhoun and colleagues found a link between migraine intensity and dizziness or vertigo. The stronger the migraine, the more likely patients were to have these complaints.
"Our best conclusion is that it's actually part of migraines," she says. "It's a migraine symptom."
After the migraine passes, a person may feel like her body has been pummeled.
In a recent study, researchers interviewed migraine patients and found that they commonly experienced symptoms such as fatigue, trouble concentrating, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and loss of energy during the post-migraine period.
"It can be very fatiguing," Dr. Messina says.