A migraine is a common neurological problem but is worse than a usual headache. It is often characterized by a throbbing, pulsing headache, usually on one side of your head. If you have a migraine, you may experience the pain for several hours or a day, and the headache usually worsens with physical activity. Sounds smells, and lights can also worsen a migraine. If you constantly have signs of a migraine, make a point of seeing your migraine specialist in Alexandria to discuss your headaches. Below are the different phases of a migraine.


It is the first phase of a migraine, and it often serves as a sign or warning of an oncoming migraine. You may notice subtle changes such as neck stiffness, frequent yawning, increased urination, food cravings, mood changes, and frequent yawning. The prodrome phase can last several hours or days.


An aura usually involves visual symptoms, but sometimes you may experience other disturbances. It can occur before or during a migraine and last for an hour or less than five minutes. The common symptoms of the aura phase include pins and needles sensation in the arm or leg and vision loss.

Migraine attack

When left untreated, migraines can last from four to 72 hours. A migraine attack may cause pain on one side of the head, nausea, and sensitivity to stimuli.


You may feel drained or confused after a migraine attack, and sudden head movements may trigger the pain briefly.

What causes migraine?

The exact cause of migraines remains unknown, but they are thought to result from changes in brain activity. Specialists believe that genetics and environmental factors contribute to migraines. While there is no established cause for migraines, there are different potential triggers, and they vary for each individual. Identifying a consistent trigger may be challenging, but keeping a diary may help. Examples of migraine triggers include:

Hormonal changes

Estrogen hormone levels before or during the menstrual cycle trigger migraine in most women. The headache can occur two days before to three days after periods. Oral contraceptives can also cause migraines, but some women find that their migraines subside when taking these medications.

Sensory stimuli

Some people get migraines as a result of bright lights and loud sounds. Strong smells such as smoke, paint, and perfumes can also induce headaches in other people

Other triggers include alcoholic drinks, especially wine. Too much caffeine can also cause migraines. Emotional triggers of migraines include stress, anxiety, excitement, tension, depression, and shock. Physical triggers may include fatigue, poor posture, jet lag, strenuous activity, and low blood sugar.

Risk factors for migraine

While anyone can have a migraine, certain variables make you prone to headaches, and they include:

  • People of all ages can have migraines, but they first occur during puberty and peak during the ’30s. The intensity and frequency of these headaches lessen over the years.
  • Migraines are more prevalent in women than men due to hormonal changes. Most women get headaches before or shortly after the onset of a period. Pregnancy is also another factor that contributes to migraines.
  • Family history. You have a good chance of developing migraines if you have a family member with a similar problem.

If you have any questions about migraines, consult with your doctor at Integrated Neurology Services.