If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know it’s more than just a headache. Many migraine sufferers, or migraineurs, can tell days in advance that a migraine is coming based on a set of symptoms that occur before the headache. Even after the headache is over, the attack isn’t. You may experience a set of after effects that are unpleasant in their own right.
There are several different types of migraine headaches, but the most common are classic migraine, or migraine with aura, and common migraine, which is the headache without the aura. In addition to the headache, migraine symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, neck and shoulder stiffness, and sensitivity to light and sound, as well as other, less common, symptoms.
Migraine usually occurs in four stages. The first stage, or prodrome, consists of mood swings, confusion, food cravings and increased urination, as well as other symptoms. This stage can last hours or even days. It is followed by the aura phase which lasts for approximately 20 minutes, and usually consists of visual disturbances. This phase precedes the headache phase by 30 minutes to an hour. Not every migraineur experiences all of these stages with every attack, and some may never experience some of them.
The fourth stage of the migraine is called the postdrome. Some migraineurs refer to this stage as “migraine hangover.” The postdrome can last up to two days. When you’re in this stage, you may have a dull headache and experience fatigue, confusion, irritability, euphoria, muscle aches and mood swings. You also might simply want to go to bed and sleep. Not everyone experiences the postdrome. Some migraine suffers feel extremely energized after the headache and bounce back without any after effects.
Added together, the symptoms of migraine can last, from start to finish, for nearly an entire work week. Thus, its impact in the workplace is huge. A recent study by the University of Michigan determined that a large employer lost over $20 million annually due to migraine, not only because of the cost of treatment, but also as the result of decreased productivity due to migraine symptoms.
There are treatments for migraines, so if you suffer from them, talk to your doctor. Also, since migraines are often triggered by diet, you might try keeping a food diary to see if there is any correlation between what you eat and your migraines.
There is some data to support a connection between migraine and stroke, so even if you feel you are managing your migraines fine on your own, you might want to mention to your doctor that you have them.