13 Migraine Symptoms to be Aware of


A 2006 study in Cephalgia found that 36 percent of study participants reported yawning as a precursor to a migraine. And we’re not just talking about a yawn here or there – we’re talking about repetitive yawning.

In early 2018, a study in Headache found that almost half of their study participants reported repetitive yawning during a migraine. They studied 339 people with migraines and found that yawning was common in 11.2 percent in the prodrome phase, 24.2 percent during the headache, and 10 percent in both stages.

People who have osmophobia (sensitivity to smell), nausea, vomiting, cutaneous allodynia (sensitive skin) all were more susceptible to excessive yawning.

Neck Pain

An online survey performed by the National Headache Foundation indicated that 38 percent of migraine patients “always” have neck pain and 31 percent “frequently” have neck pain during a migraine. Other studies indicate that up to 87 percent of migraine sufferers have neck pain before or during a migraine.

Neck pain can be a bit confusing – how do you know if you’re having actual neck pain or pain that is simply associated with your migraine – although it makes it no less painful! 

It could be that migraines some migraines start in the neck or the base of the skull. Why? We often carry our stress in our shoulders and neck, and tight muscles in these areas can indicate stress. It can also mean poor posture – another cause of neck pain and headaches!

Trouble Speaking

Trouble speaking, termed the “migraine babble” by migraineurs, is when the words just don’t come out right. However, there is an actual medical term for this – “transient aphasia.”


Not everyone with a migraine will have transient aphasia – it occurs in people who have a migraine with aura, complex migraine, and migraine with brainstem aura.

Not to confuse things, but typically, this “migraine babble” is often part of the migraine aura. If you begin to notice that you’re not speaking clearly or you’re searching for words, a migraine may hit soon. However, if this is a new symptom for you, it can also be a symptom of an impending emergency, such as a stroke – seek medical attention in these circumstances!

Sleep Difficulties

I don’t know about you, but when I have a migraine, I just want to sleep the pain away – but sometimes sleep is elusive. 

Sleeping difficulties are prevalent in migraineurs. Waking up tired and having a hard time falling asleep is very common, as is having a hard time falling asleep once the migraine hits. Insomnia is common as a result of migraines.

There have been studies that indicate a “lack of restorative sleep and the frequency and intensity of migraines.”

Unfortunately, this cycle can actually trigger migraines.

Numbness and Tingling

Also called a sensory aura, numbness and tingling or a temporary lack of sensation occurs on one side of the body across the face or moving from the fingertips and through the arm. The sensory aura is less common than a visual aura – slightly less than one-tenth of migraineurs have a sensory aura.

The aura occurs immediately before a migraine begins; symptoms may last several minutes to one hour.

Just as we’re not sure what causes migraines, researchers aren’t sure what causes a sensory aura. One theory is that it may be caused by improper functioning in an area of the brain stem.

Sensory aura symptoms can be scary. They are similar to that of a stroke, a seizure, or a mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack – a TIA). For this reason, you should seek medical attention when you when you first begin to experience these symptoms to differentiate between emergency symptoms and sensory aura symptoms.

Once you can rule out an emergency, a medical professional, such as your neurologist, can help you differentiate between the symptoms. One way to discern the symptoms is to note the onset – sensory aura symptoms are gradual while the emergent symptoms are typically not.

Vision Problems

As we’ve already discussed, migraines affect the senses and vision is no exception. Many people have auras that signify a migraine is coming. Others have certain subtypes of migraines that specifically affect their vision, such as ocular migraines, retinal migraines, and ophthalmic migraines.

If vision changes occur, they can occur at any stage of the migraine – before, during, or after a migraine. Sometimes vision change is the only symptom that a migraine is occurring – occasionally, no pain occurs whatsoever.

Common visual symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • A temporary loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Sparkles in the vision
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Flickering lights in the vision
  • Flashes, spots, and lines in the vision – all of which are very common with an aura
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)

Next page: More migraine symptoms to be aware of including nausea and vomiting, IBS, vertigo and more. 

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