Migraine Symptoms: Prodrome Migraine

migraine symptoms

Migraine symptoms can be so tricky. I never know if I’m coming out of an attack or rolling into another. Understanding the timeline of a migraine attack is important although there are many overlapping symptoms before, during, and after a migraine attack. The migraine prodrome phase is where migraine symptoms begin. When thinking of the migraine attack timeline, I like the American Migraine Foundations graphic.

Migraine Symptoms

Timeline of a Migraine Attack

Migraine symptoms can occur anywhere from an hour to days before a migraine attack.  It can serve as a warning and can differ with each attack.  Some migraine symptoms may be but are not limited to the list below.  I have linked my experience(s) with each. Remember, I’m not a doctor. I’m sharing my experience with My Migraine Life and linking all my stories to how it makes me feel every day. Everyone’s experiences will vary.

Prodrome Migraine

  • Mood changes

This is because levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine are affected by the migrainous process in the brain. [1] In all of the migraine phases, mood changes are present.  The mental toll of living with migraine is a roller coaster and one that is often uncontrollable.

Photophobia, increased sensitivity to light,  can begin during the migraine prodrome and continue throughout the migraine attack. I am always sensitive to light and it almost always increases the pain of a migraine despite what phase I’m in.

  • Sound sensitivity

Phonophobia, increased sensitivity to sound, can continue through the aura and headache phases. Once again, sound also can increase my pain.

Migraine Aura

Not everyone experiences every phase.

 Migraine Headache

  • Head Pain

Did you know you can have a migraine attack without head pain? I didn’t for a long time either. For me, head pain is the worst part of my attacks. Each migraine attack is different and describing the pain is difficult. I have had head pain on both sides, one side, and ranged from mild to extremely severe.  Along with Chronic Migraine, I also have daily persistent headaches so it’s an everyday thing for me.

    • Throbbing
    • Drilling
    • Icepick
    • Burning
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sensitivity to
    • Light
    • Sound
    • Odor sensitivity
    • Smell
  • Runny nose/congestion
  • Hot/Cold flashes
  • Tooth pain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Giddiness
  • Depressed Mood

Postdrome Migraine

Finally, I crawl out of my cold, dark room after an attack and I want to be free of migraine symptoms. But the reality is, there’s still another phase. It’s what I call the zombie phase or the migraine hangover. The postdrome phase is often overlooked even though 60-80 percent of people with migraine experience it.   Postdrome is actually part of the migraine attack itself. The profound changes in activity and blood flow that occur during the aura and head pain phase of the attack, persist even after the pain has ended.

  • Memory loss
  • Clumsiness
  • Euphoric Mood
  • Depressed Mood
  • Fatigue

Whether I’m in the prodrome migraine phase, aura, headache, or postdrome, I’m dealing with a variety of migraine symptoms. They all overlap and are different with each attack. The severity and frequency also vary.  Because of this, migraine treatments also vary.



[1] Roberts, Teri. 14 Migraine Prodrome Symptoms. July 15, 2020


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Sarah Rathsack

I tell stories of My Migraine Life. Living life through Migraine consists of advocacy, treatment, prevention, and searching for health and happiness in a positive honest way. My kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate me to make a difference in the Migraine World.
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