Man having a migraine

Migraines

Migraines, commonly referred to as migraine headaches, are a neurological condition most commonly affecting women, but they can affect men and children as well.

Most people who experience migraines have them one to four times per month, but these headaches may occur more frequently. There are a number of migraine triggers, which vary from person to person. It can be helpful to track your symptoms in order to identify and avoid situations that may bring on a migraine.

Diagnosis is based primarily on clinical signs and symptoms, and if there is any uncertainty, you may need to have diagnostic tests to confirm your condition. While there are many different medication treatments available for migraines, prevention is really the cornerstone of migraine management.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you get rid of a migraine?

    To stop a migraine in its tracks, over-the-counter remedies such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen can be helpful, as well as prescription treatments like triptans or oral steroids. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments can be effective for many, too—ginger, Tiger Balm, and lavender oil all have good research behind their usage for migraines.

  • How long do migraines last?

    Migraines may last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours if untreated. It can be difficult to predict the duration of a migraine, but tracking the stages you go through can be helpful. 

    Migraine stages include: 

    1. Prodrome
    2. Aura
    3. Headache
    4. Postdrome

    You may not experience every stage with every migraine, but keeping a migraine journal can help you identify patterns.

  • What helps prevent migraines?

    Getting enough sleep, avoiding triggering foods and smells, regulating caffeine intake, managing stress, and doing yoga/meditation are effective migraine prevention measures for many. Taking magnesium and trying acupuncture have also been shown to help. If you're experiencing five or more migraines per month, your doctor may suggest a daily prescription medication to help with prevention.

  • What do migraines feel like?

    A migraine may feel like a headache all over your head, in the front or back of your head, or on one or both sides of your head. Migraine headaches are often described as throbbing, pounding, and persistent. You may have other symptoms, too, like neck/shoulder pain, light sensitivity, nausea, and dizziness.

Key Terms

A young woman sits on the side of the bed, holding her head. A glass of water and medication sit on a table.
An Overview of Migraine Auras
Young Asian woman with hand on forehead lying in bed and feeling sick
Is There a Link Between Psoriatic Arthritis and Migraines?
girl with headache
Can Children Take Excedrin Migraine? Everything You Need to Know
Anxious Black pregnant woman rubbing forehead on sofa
What to Know About Migraine and Pregnancy
Senior businesswoman with mask feeling bad at street
What to Know About Migraine and COVID-19
What Is Your Migraine Experience?
What Is Your Migraine Profile?
Neck pain can be a migraine symptom
Neck Pain Is Common in Migraine
woman talking to doctor
Migraines (and Their Treatment) Can Cause Complications
woman on subway yawning
Can I Predict a Migraine Attack?
Woman holding stomach in pain
What Are Abdominal Migraines in Adults?
A white male child in bed holding his head; his blonde female caregiver is comforting him.
Migraines: Different in Kids Than Adults
Mother and daughter sitting on a porch talking
How Migraines in Children Differ From Migraines in Adults
blurry city skyline
An Overview of Migraine With Aura
Woman with headache
Symptoms of This Rare Form of Migraine Can Mimic a Stroke
eye pain retinal migraine
Retinal Migraine: A Type of Ocular Migraine Affecting Only One Eye
Woman holding head
When There's No Headache, Is It Still a Migraine?
teen girl with headache
Teen Migraines and Headaches: What's Normal and Dangerous
child with headache in bed
What to Do About Your Child's Migraines
Mixed Race woman rubbing forehead
When Migraines Make You Dizzy
How Hormonal Dips During Your Period Can Trigger a Migraine
young boy with stomach ache at doctor
Is My Child's Stomach Pain a Migraine?
A young woman taking a break from technology
Score Your Own Migraine Test and Share With Your Healthcare Provider
Woman with headache, France
When Is Migraine Considered Chronic?
Woman with head in hands
This Rare Migraine Can Make You Feel Like You're Having a Stroke
Is Visual Snow Syndrome a Migraine Aura?
I Have Migraines and See Lots of Tiny Dots Like Snow
Rhinosinusitis
Sinus Infection or Migraine Headache? Learn How to Tell the Difference
There are several types of headaches.
The Many Forms of Migraines
These Migraines Don't Cause Visual Problems, But Can Be Debilitating
migraine
Status Migrainosus: When a Migraine Lasts for Over 72 Hours
Man with migraine
What Is a Persistent Migraine Aura Without Infarction?
woman with headache
Why a Refractory Migraine Is Difficult to Diagnose
Doctors Use Screening Tests for Migraines
How Does My Healthcare Provider Diagnose Migraines?
Migraines can lead to seizures.
When Migraines Trigger Seizures
Migraines Prior to Menstruation and Menopause Are Common
Why Your Estrogen Levels Could Be Contributing to Your Migraines
Is Your Phone Triggering Headaches?
Your Mobile Phone Use Might Be Contributing to Your Migraines
Woman suffering from migraine
Low Iron Levels Are Linked to Migraine
perfume
Certain Smells Can Trigger a Migraine Attack
Suffering from a migraine headache.
The Role Your Genes Play in Your Migraine Headaches
charcuterie board and wine
The Link Between Migraines and Your Diet
Exhausted girl using paper waver, suffering from hot summer weather.
An Overview of Serotonin Syndrome
Young Asian woman sitting on bed and feeling sick, taking medicines in hand with a glass of water - stock photo
Here's an Overview of Medications for Migraines
African woman leaning over bathroom sink with head in hand - stock photo
Why You're Waking Up with Migraine and What You Can Do About It
Portrait of Afro-American woman, hand on forehead, blue wall in the background - stock photo
Here Are Some Tips for Getting Rid of Migraines Fast
Is it really worth it to suffer for beauty?
Here’s What You Need to Know About Botox for Migraine
BIPOC woman listening to headphones in a dim room
Binaural Beats for Migraine
Young woman consulting with her doctor online - stock photo
What You Need to Know About Telehealth for Migraines
Vyepti: An Infused Migraine Preventive Drug
Vyepti (Eptinezumab): An Intravenous Medicine for Migraine Prevention
Unrecognizable doctor gives patient prescription medication
What to Know About Your Trokendi XR Prescription
Close up photo of round white pill in female hand
What You Should Know About Diamox (Acetazolamide)
Bottles of CBD oil with cannabis dry leaves on white wooden table. Alternative medicine concept.
Can CBD Oil Really Treat a Migraine?
I hope this works
Can Sumatriptan Soothe Your Migraine?
brain stimulation
Cefaly Neurostimulation: A New Way to Treat Migraine Attacks
Young woman having severe headache
Find Out About the Newest Migraine Treatments
Woman sitting on the ground meditating.
5 Ways to Optimize Your Migraine Care
woman receiving Chiropractic Massage
Will Chiropractic Care Help My Headaches?
Light therapy
Could Light Therapy Ease Your Migraines?
Nauseus woman bent over toilet
Using Anti-Nausea Drugs for Migraine Treatment
Front view of teen with hands on her head
Migraine Medications Can Prevent and Treat Headaches in Kids
Close-up of a person holding pills and a glass of water
Using Ibuprofen to Treat Headaches and Migraines
Girl sitting on bed in bad health
Medications You Can Take to Gain Control Over Migraines
Page Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Types of Lymphoma. Updated 2020.

  2. Maghbooli M, Golipour F, Moghimi esfandabadi A, Yousefi M. Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine. Phytother Res. 2014;28(3):412-5. doi:10.1002/ptr.4996

  3. Schattner P, Randerson D. Tiger Balm as a treatment of tension headache. A clinical trial in general practice. Aust Fam Physician. 1996;25(2):216, 218, 220 passim.

  4. Sasannejad P, Saeedi M, Shoeibi A, Gorji A, Abbasi M, Foroughipour M. Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur Neurol. 2012;67(5):288-91. doi:10.1159/000335249

  5. Dolati S, Rikhtegar R, Mehdizadeh A, Yousefi M. The role of magnesium in pathophysiology and migraine treatment. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2020;196(2):375-383. doi:10.1007/s12011-019-01931-z

  6. Dolati S, Rikhtegar R, Mehdizadeh A, Yousefi M. The role of magnesium in pathophysiology and migraine treatment. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2020;196(2):375-383. doi:10.1007/s12011-019-01931-z

  7. Da silva AN. Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache. 2015;55(3):470-3. doi:10.1111/head.12525

  8. American Academy of Family Physicians. Migraines. familydoctor.org. Updated September 3, 2019.

  9. American Migraine Foundation. Understanding migraine with aura.

  10. US Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women's Health. Migraine. Updated April 1, 2019.

  11. American Migraine Foundation. The timeline of a migraine attack. Updated January 18, 2018.

  12. Vgontzas A, Pavlović JM. Sleep disorders and migraine: review of literature and potential pathophysiology mechanisms. Headache. 2018 Jul;58(7):1030-9. doi:10.1111/head.13358.

Additional Reading