A MIGRAINE HEADACHE is an intense, throbbing or boring pain in one part of the head that is usually accompanied by nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound or smell, and fatigue. Migraines usually last between four and seventy two hours.
About one third of migraine patients have so-called CLASSIC MIGRAINE, where their headache is preceded by an AURA, i.e. some type of sensory warning symptom, such as flickering or flashing lights similar to static on a television, often taking the shape of zig-zag lines in an arc like the crown of the Statue of Liberty (“fortification scotoma”), blind spots, or numbness or tingling in an arm or a leg.
Auras always come on GRADUALLY over five to fifteen minutes, last between five minutes to an hour, and then fade away SLOWLY.
Roughly one percent of patients have ACEPHALGIC OR SILENT MIGRAINES, i. e. they experience auras but they do not have any headache.
Recent studies have shown that people who suffer from CLASSIC MIGRAINE, i.e. migraine with an aura, are at increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. These people should reduce their risk by exercising, eating a healthy diet (low in saturated fats and refined sugars, and high in fruits and vegetables), maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. Women who have classic migraine should not take contraceptive pills or supplemental estrogen or progesterone.