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Types of migraines:

A migraine is classified into a variety of types based on the symptoms and its origin. The information given below can be used just as a reference as patients may not have the typical symptoms of any of the types.

A migraine without aura:

Most common type of migraines affecting 70 to 90% of migraine patients.  

Attacks last for 4 to 72 hours without treatment.

One sided headache aggravating after exercise.

Headaches usually associated with vomiting or diarrhea.

Typical sensitivity to light, noise or smell.

The frequency of attacks differ from person to person from once or twice a year to several times a week.

b) A migraine with aura:

This is a type of a migraine where common symptoms of a migraine are accompanied by other neurological symptoms.

10 to 30% of patients experience these type of headaches.

Neurological symptoms are also termed as aura and usually experienced before a headache.

Once the patient gets symptoms of aura he/she understands that they are going to get a migraine attack.

Neurological symptoms consist of mainly visual disturbances like zig zag vision, blind spots before eyes, colored spots, flashes of light before eyes, etc.

Other aura symptoms may include vertigo or spinning of the head, tingling, and numbness in hands, weakness on one side of the body, etc.

c) A chronic migraine:

Patients having a headache on more than 15 days in a month are termed to have a chronic migraine or chronic daily headache.

Relatively rare as around 1 to 2% of the population is affected.

A chronic migraine affects the social life of the patients as it means more absenteeism from work.

Overuse of pain killer medicines complicates the disease.

This type of headaches requires a long-term treatment along with lifestyle changes.

d) Menstrual migraine

As the name suggests this type of headaches are associated with menstrual cycle

Females are having headache two days before menstrual cycle begins and stays for first three days of the cycle.

This headache is associated with low levels of estrogen hormone during menses.

Less than 10% of females are suffering from this type of a headache.

e) Abdominal migraine

This type of symptom complex is usually seen in children.

A headache is associated with abdominal symptoms like dyspepsia, functional abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome.

f) Cyclical vomiting syndrome

This type of a headache is commonly seen in children where vomiting is the presenting feature and the child is not able to explain a headache.

In young children especially less than 6 years of age it can present as frequent vomiting lasting for hours to days together.

Between the attacks the patient becomes normal. The attacks occur at regular intervals may be every 2 to 8 weeks.

Diagnosis and management of this type of a migraine are more difficult than other types.

g) There are many other headache types which a physician needs to rule out before making the diagnosis of a migraine.

To name few are as below:

Tension-type headache

Cluster headache

Chronic daily headache

Medicine an overuse headache

High altitude headache, etc.