The 7 Types of Migraine: A Quick Breakdown
A Growing Understanding
Despite how prevalent migraine is—more than 38 million Americans suffer from it —there is much that is misunderstood about the condition. Though research as to the exact physiological causes of these debilitating attacks is ongoing, what’s clear is that it’s not a monolith. Not only are there individual differences in the way it expresses itself, but migraine can actually be broken down into seven distinct sub-types, each with its own set of characteristics and traits.
What kinds are there? Here’s a quick rundown:
Migraine Without Aura
Easily the most frequently reported kind, migraine without aura presents as moderate to severe headache occurring with little to no warning.  In most cases, pain is felt on one side of the head and is accompanied by a range of symptoms, including nausea, blurred vision, disordered thought, shifting moods, sensitivity to light, smell, and sound, as well as fatigue. Frequency can vary from a few times a year to a few times a week, with attacks lasting anywhere from four hours to three days.
Migraine With Aura
A common type representing about one in five cases, migraine with aura is characterized by visual disturbances and other symptoms between 10 minutes to one hour prior to onset of headache attack.  The disturbances, called “aura,” can completely shut down vision in one or both eyes, and may even occur without pain itself. Similar to migraine without aura, nausea, confusion, mood, sensory sensitivity also occur as well as occasional numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness on one side of the body. At times, these symptoms precede attack of headache itself.
Migraine Without Headache
This is when the visual problems, nausea, vomiting, and constipation associated with migraine occur without the headache. Basically, it has all of the trappings of migraine without as much of the pain. Certainly rarer than migraine with or without aura, it’s nonetheless debilitating. More research needs to be done, but some specialists suggest this condition to be closely related to other symptoms such as fever, dizziness, or unexplained pain on other parts of the body. 
Migraine With Brainstem Aura
Also known as “basilar migraine,” this type affects children and adolescents primarily. Largely this has the same symptoms as migraine with aura but without the muscular weakness. Emerging from the brainstem, it’s most often present in teenage girls and may be associated with hormonal changes during menstruation.  Sufferers experience double-vision, total loss of vision, vertigo, dizziness, loss of muscle coordination, ringing in ears, and slurred speech alongside sharp, throbbing pain in one or both sides of the head.
A rare sub-type of migraine with aura, this one leads to temporary paralysis in sufferers, which can occasionally last for several days. Precursors to headache attack are vertigo, pricking sensations, as well as sensory disturbances, problems speaking. Oftentimes this one has a genetic component.
A very rare type of migraine characterized primarily by visual disturbances and even temporary loss in one eye, sometimes but not always accompanied by headache.
Occurring with or without aura, this sub-type of migraine is easily the most difficult to deal with. In terms of symptoms it can take the characteristics of either migraine with or without aura; however, chronic migraineurs suffer debilitating attacks 15 or more days a month.  The challenge with this sub-type is that drug approaches don’t always mitigate the problem, and in some cases make attacks worse. Certainly, the frequency of attacks makes this a particularly difficult to take on.
No matter what kind of migraine you or a loved one may be suffering with, what’s most important is that active steps are taken to mitigate and manage the condition. These days, treatments and preventative approaches are better than they’ve ever been, so there’s no point in feeling hopeless in the face of the difficulty. Reach out, get help, and take control. A solution is out there.
If you suffer from chronic migraine, the team at Migraine Treatment Centers of America can help. Employing the groundbreaking Omega Procedure, the experts here have helped countless migraineurs achieve lasting relief from the condition. Learn more about what they do by calling (855) 300-6822 today!
- “Migraine Statistics: Facts And Data About Migraine”. 2018. Com. Accessed December 1 2018. https://migraine.com/migraine-statistics/.
- Dumas, Paula. 2018. “7 Types Of Migraine: Which Do You Have?”. Migraine Again. https://migraineagain.com/10-types-of-migraine-which-do-you-have/.