Facebook Pixel

Migraines – Types, Prevention, and Treatment

Rate This

There are several types of migraine. The two main categories are migraine with aura, and migraine without aura, although there are other less common types as well.

Migraine with aura is what used to be called classical migraine. The aura is the name for the symptoms some people feel before the headache hits. These can include:

• Visual disturbances such as flashing lights, blind spots, lines, heat waves
• Mental fogginess or fuzziness
• Numbness or tingling in face or hands

• Other sensory disturbances involving smell, taste or touch

The migraine without aura results in the same pain and other symptoms but without the sensory symptoms before the headache.

The other types are migraine include:
• Abdominal migraine - most common in children
• Basilar migraine - most common in teen girls, but occurs in children and teens
• Hemiplegic migraine – this can run in families, and is then called Familial Hemiplegic migraine.
• Menstrually-Related migraine – commonly occurs around women’s periods, but most also have migraines at other times as well.
• Migraine without headache – has all the other symptoms of migraine, sensory issues, nausea, vomiting, but not the headache.
• Ophthalmoplegic migraine – less common, characterized by the headache along with droopy eyelid, dilated pupil, and visual disturbances that can last for weeks.
• Retinal migraine – involves loss of vision or visual disturbances in one eye.
• Status migrainosis – this type is rare and so severe the person who has it has to be hospitalized.

Migraine prevention is two-fold. The easiest and most effective way to prevent them is to avoid triggers. It can take some time to figure out what triggers your migraines. There are some things like caffeine and chocolate that are pretty common, but each person is different. That is why keeping a migraine journal is so important.

The second part of prevention involves taking action as soon as your symptoms begin. That action may be low-tech symptom control such as lying down in a dark, quiet room, a cool cloth or icepack placed on your head, and drinking plenty of fluids, especially if you are vomiting. For people whose migraines are not triggered by caffeine, sometimes just a little caffeine may head off a migraine right when it’s starting.

The other part of taking action immediately includes medications. Medications are either taken daily to prevent migraines altogether, or are taken immediately at onset of symptoms. The medications for acute migraine are called abortive medications because they cut off or abort the migraine.

This list is not all-inclusive, because quite a few medications are used off-label for migraines:

• Triptans
• Ergot derived
• Over-the-counter (OTC)
• Combination analgesics
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
• Nausea relief drugs
• Narcotics
• Anticonvulsants
• Beta-blockers
• Calcium channel blockers
• Antidepressants

There are also other natural treatments for migraine, including:

• Vitamin B2
• Magnesium
• Coenzyme Q10
• Butterbur
• Feverfew
• Nettles

Most of these can be found in the vitamin and supplement section of a grocery store or health food store.

Other treatments include biofeedback, exercise, dietary interventions, relaxation training and acupuncture.

One note: When you are being treated for migraines, you must always let your provider know about drugs you are taking, including over the counter or herbal medications. Some herbs interact with other medications so it can be a real problem not to mention them. Always be safe and very honest with your health care provider.


National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Mitchell, William A., Jr., (2003), Plant Medicine in Practice, Using the Teachings of John Bastyr

Women’s Health.Gov

Add a Comment2 Comments

I appreciate your comments. The information on types came from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and was last updated in late 2009: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm They also cite the Headache Society as a resource.

It is not uncommon for nomenclature to vary somewhat between specialty organizations and National Health Institute organizations online. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

May 14, 2010 - 9:22am
EmpowHER Guest

Interesting article, but confusing in the section about types of Migraines. The gold standard for diagnosis and classification is the International Headache Society's International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd Edition (ICHD-II). The ICHD-II doesn't recognize menstrually-related Migraine as a separate form of Migraine, nor does it recognize Ophthalmoplegic Migraine. Migraine without headache is a descriptive term, not a form of Migraine. Any form can skip the headache phase, at which point, it's described as acephalgic or silent. Here are the forms of Migraine as per the ICHD-II:

1.1 Migraine without aura
1.2 Migraine with aura
1.2.1 Typical aura with migraine headache
1.2.2 Typical aura with non-migraine headache
1.2.3 Typical aura without headache
1.2.4 Familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM)
1.2.5 Sporadic hemiplegic migraine
1.2.6 Basilar-type migraine
1.3 Childhood periodic syndromes that are commonly precursors of migraine
1.3.1 Cyclical vomiting
1.3.2 Abdominal migraine
1.3.3 Benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood
1.4 Retinal migraine
1.5 Complications of migraine
1.5.1 Chronic migraine
1.5.2 Status migrainosus
1.5.3 Persistent aura without infarction
1.5.4 Migrainous infarction
1.5.5 Migraine-triggered seizures
1.6 Probable migraine
1.6.1 Probable migraine without aura
1.6.2 Probable migraine with aura
1.6.5 Probable chronic migraine

May 14, 2010 - 9:07am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


Get Email Updates

Migraine Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!