How Long Do Migraines Last? Your Questions On Migraines Answered


August 11, 2023

/ Learn / How Long Do Migraines Last? Your Questions On Migraines Answered

Are you experiencing recurring headaches or migraines that seem to last longer than you think they should? You’re probably asking yourself, “How long do migraines last? And when should I seek help?”

Understanding the duration of a migraine attack can offer valuable insights into managing and treating this debilitating condition.

In this article, we aim to provide valuable insights into migraines by exploring their different types, the distinct phases that make up a migraine attack, and the average duration of these episodes.

We’ll also discuss the crucial importance of monitoring symptoms, the challenges involved in diagnosing migraines, and when it’s essential to seek medical attention. In addition, we will share practical at-home remedies that may help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.

We also want to introduce you to Relatyv’s person-centered approach and specialized therapies, which aim to provide long-lasting and effective relief from migraines, without relying solely on medications.

Migraines can be truly puzzling, as the duration of an attack can vary significantly from person to person. By addressing the unique questions surrounding this condition, we hope to shed light on effective strategies for managing and alleviating its symptoms.

Let’s begin by defining what migraines are and what sets them apart from regular headaches.

What Are Migraines?

Migraines are so much more than just regular headaches. They are a neurological condition that causes recurrent episodes of moderate to severe headaches, which are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances.

Migraines can have a profound impact on your daily activities. Moreover, when migraines become chronic, they can be disabling and have a significant effect on your quality of life and overall well-being.

While the exact cause of migraines is still not fully understood, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors.

To get a clear understanding of how migraines can impact you, let’s discuss the different types of migraines and how long they typically last.

Type Of Migraines And Duration of Pain

Did you know that there are up to eight different types of migraines? Each type comes with its own unique set of symptoms and triggers. If you’re interested in learning more about these different types, we have a dedicated page called Understanding The Various Types of Migraines that delves into each one in great detail.

However, the two most common types of migraines are:

  • Migraines without aura: Also known as “common migraines”, these account for about 80% of migraine cases. They are characterized by moderate to severe pulsating headaches that typically occur on one side of the head, along with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
  • The duration of migraines without aura can range from a few hours to several days.
  • Migraines with aura: In addition to common migraine symptoms, some people experience neurological symptoms known as “aura” before the onset of the headache pain. These aura symptoms can include visual disturbances, such as seeing flashing lights or zigzag patterns, as well as tingling sensations in the face or hands.
  • The duration of migraines with aura can vary, but the auras typically last for about an hour, followed by the headache phase

If you or someone you know suffers from migraines, you may have noticed a pattern in the way they come and go. That’s because migraines often follow distinguishable phases, similar to a life cycle. In the next section, we will explore these phases in detail.

Phases Of A Migraine Attack

A migraine attack consists of several distinct phases, each with its own characteristics and duration. Understanding these phases can help you to better recognize the progression of your migraines and take appropriate measures to manage the symptoms effectively.

Prodrome Phase

The prodrome (or ‘early symptom’) phase occurs from a few hours to several days before the onset of a migraine headache. During this phase, individuals may experience subtle changes that signal an impending migraine attack.

These changes can include mood swings, fatigue, food cravings, increased thirst, and heightened sensitivity to light and sound.

Aura Phase

In individuals who experience migraines with auras, the aura phase typically occurs right before the onset of the headache pain. Aura symptoms can manifest as visual disturbances, sensory changes, or even difficulty speaking. The duration of the aura phase is usually short, lasting around 20 minutes to an hour.

Headache Or Main Attack Stage

The headache phase is the most intense and debilitating part of a migraine attack. It is characterized by throbbing or pulsating headache pain, usually on one side of the head. Other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound, are also common during this phase.

The duration of the headache phase can vary widely, ranging from a few hours to several days.

Resolution Phase

After the headache phase, many individuals experience a resolution phase where the pain gradually subsides. During this phase, they may still feel fatigued or have difficulty concentrating. The duration of the resolution phase varies from person to person, but it is generally shorter than the headache phase.

Postdrome Phase

The postdrome phase, also known as the migraine hangover, occurs after the resolution phase. During this phase, individuals may feel exhausted and irritable, and may experience lingering mild headaches. The postdrome phase can last for several hours to a couple of days.

Now that we have an understanding of the various types of migraines and their characteristic phases, we can start putting together the puzzle of how long a typical migraine lasts.

How Long Does A Migraine Last?

When it comes to the duration of a migraine, there are some general guidelines to consider. According to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF), the painful headache associated with a migraine can last anywhere from four to 72 hours on average. This holds true for both migraines with and without auras.

It’s important to remember, however, that migraine duration can vary significantly from person to person and even from one episode to another. Several factors come into play, including the specific type of migraine, individual triggers, and the effectiveness of treatment.

The AMF also indicates that when taking into account the entire migraine episode, which encompasses the prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome phases, the duration can range from a little over one day to slightly over a week. While it is uncommon for a migraine attack to last for this longer duration, most sufferers’ typical migraines last one to two days.

So, why does the overall duration of migraines matter? And what if you experience migraines that vary in intensity and duration? Understanding your own migraines on a deeper level is crucial, and in the next section, we will explain why this is so important and how it can benefit you.

The Significance of Monitoring Migraine Symptoms

Monitoring the onset and duration of your migraine symptoms is vital for effective management and treatment. By diligently keeping track of your migraines, you can identify patterns, triggers, and warning signs that may help prevent or reduce the frequency and intensity of future attacks.

Gaining insights into your unique migraine patterns empowers you to take better control of your condition and make well-informed decisions regarding your treatment and lifestyle choices.

Additionally, tracking your symptoms will also provide valuable information for healthcare professionals, enabling them to accurately assess your condition and create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs.

This is helpful because the process of diagnosing migraines can present challenges. Let’s dive into the reasons why this process can be a complex task.

Challenges In Diagnosing A Migraine

Diagnosing migraines is often a challenging task because there are currently no specific tests to confirm the condition. Healthcare professionals rely on a detailed medical history, symptom patterns, and ruling out other possible causes to make an accurate diagnosis.

It’s worth noting that several other conditions can cause symptoms similar to migraines, such as tension headaches, cluster headaches, and even sphenoid sinusitis.

Seeking professional help is crucial if you experience chronic headaches or migraines. By doing so, you can receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment to effectively manage your symptoms.

Next, we will explore how to recognize the signs indicating that it may be time to seek additional help for your migraines.

When Should You See A Doctor?

While migraines are a common condition, affecting 10% of people worldwide, there are certain red flags that should prompt you to seek medical attention. You should seek advice from a healthcare professional if:

  • Your headaches are significantly impacting your daily life and activities.
  • Your headaches are accompanied by neurological symptoms like confusion, slurred speech, or weakness in one side of the body.
  • You experience sudden and severe headaches unlike any you have had before.
  • Your headaches worsen or become more frequent.
  • You have a history of migraines but notice a change in the pattern or severity of your headaches.

Remember, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can significantly improve your quality of life and help you manage migraines effectively.

Now that we have gained a deep understanding of what migraines are, what to typically expect, and when to seek additional help, let’s shift our focus toward exploring various strategies to prevent and find relief from migraines.

What Can You Do At Home To Mitigate Migraine Attacks?

While medical intervention is the conventional treatment for managing migraines, there are also several lifestyle changes and at-home remedies that may help mitigate the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. Here are a few strategies you can try:

Keep A Migraine Journal

Keeping a detailed record of your migraines in a journal can help you identify triggers and patterns. Note down the date, time, duration, symptoms, potential triggers (such as certain foods, stress, or lack of sleep), and the effectiveness of any treatments or remedies you try.

This information can provide valuable insights for you and your healthcare professional in managing your migraines.

Manage Stress

Stress is a common trigger for migraines, so finding healthy ways to manage stress can be beneficial. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy and help you unwind.

Prioritizing self-care and taking regular breaks can also help reduce stress levels and potentially prevent migraine attacks.

Check Your Eating Habits

Certain foods and beverages are well known to act as triggers for migraines in some individuals. To manage your migraine attacks, it is essential to identify and avoid any potential dietary triggers. Common culprits include processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, aged cheeses, and foods containing MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Maintaining a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and eating regular meals can also help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of migraines.

Get Enough Sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial for overall health and can play a significant role in migraine management. Establish a regular sleep schedule and create a conducive sleep environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.

Avoid caffeine and electronic devices before bedtime, as they can interfere with sleep quality. If you have difficulty sleeping, consult your healthcare professional for guidance and potential treatment options.

We Can Help You With Pounding Migraine Pain At Relatyv

Migraines, with their variable durations and debilitating symptoms, can pose significant challenges to navigate and can significantly impact your daily life. As mentioned above, the duration of a migraine typically ranges from four to 72 hours, but seeking medical help becomes crucial if attacks worsen or persist.

Through sharing this article’s valuable insights, our aim is to empower individuals to seek suitable treatment and effective strategies for managing migraines and their accompanying symptoms.

While lifestyle changes like stress management, adequate sleep, and proper nutrition can help reduce frequency and intensity, acknowledging the complexity of this condition is important.

At Relatyv, we specialize in Neurofunctional Pain Management and are dedicated to providing effective relief for migraine sufferers. Our compassionate and dedicated team specializes in developing personalized treatment plans that target the underlying neurological factors, aiming to provide long-term relief and improve well-being for individuals with all types of migraines.

With our expertise, we have assisted numerous patients in finding relief from the painful symptoms of migraines. Take control of your migraines today by reaching out to Relatyv for personalized care and support. Let us assist you in managing your migraines and enhancing your quality of life.



About the Author

Will is a healthcare executive, innovator, entrepreneur, inventor, and writer with a wide range of experience in the medical field. Will has multiple degrees in a wide range of subjects that give depth to his capability as an entrepreneur and capacity to operate as an innovative healthcare executive.

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