Which Stage of a Migraine Are You In?

Mar 16, 2023
Which Stage of a Migraine Are You In?
Does your child endure migraine headaches? You likely feel helpless as regular headache medication doesn’t help. Learn about the stages of a migraine and when special medication can make a difference.

Does your child suffer from headaches so severe they can’t function for hours because of the pain? You likely had your child examined thoroughly to ensure there’s not a life-threatening reason for their headaches. And their condition may have been diagnosed as migraine headaches

Migraines are a neurological disorder requiring specialized treatment. Dr. Charles Niesen, a board-certified pediatric neurologist at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, is the expert to see when your child is troubled by this painful condition. 

Understanding the stages of your child’s migraine can help you learn to spot the warning signs that a migraine is brewing. You can help your child prevent the worst effects when they receive medication during the early phase. 

Following are the four stages of your child’s migraine disorder. 

Prodrome stage

The early phase, called prodrome, or warning phase, usually occurs a day or two before your child’s migraine attack. The signs give you subtle clues to watch for a migraine approaching. If your child is old enough, you can teach them these early warning signs so they can tell you if they have any of the following symptoms: 

  • Constipation
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Cravings for certain foods 
  • Sensitive to lights or sounds
  • Stiff neck 
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Fluid retention
  • Frequent yawning

Your child likely has at least some of these early warning symptoms anywhere from a few hours to a day or two before a full-blown migraine. You can keep a headache diary for your child, or have your child keep this record if they’re old enough to do so themselves.

List the warning signs you see before the attack and the timing between the initial signs and the attack. Keeping these records can attune you to your child’s condition and helps you administer medication in this early phase to lessen the migraine’s effects. 

Aura stage

Some migraines involve an aura phase. This usually involves your child’s senses. Your child may see flashes of light, jagged lines, or other shapes. They could experience tingling, numbness, or weakness in an area of their body. They may experience a change in their vision. 

Don’t worry. These symptoms resolve, and they’re typically short-lived, lasting anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour

Headache/attack stage

If your child has had a migraine, you’ve seen what it’s like. They may complain of severe, throbbing pain on one or both sides of their head. The pain may be above their eye. 

During their attack, your child is sensitive to bright light or sounds. It may be difficult for your child to bear it when you touch them and try to comfort them. They may experience nausea and vomiting. Without medication, a migraine can last from 4-72 hours

Postdrome stage

As their attack ends, your child is finally able to sleep. They may feel drained and need rest after their migraine. 

Call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online today if your child has experienced a migraine headache. Special medications are available to help alleviate their pain and the disabling effects.