How Prodrome Can Help your Migraine Treatment

early warning prodrome

August 30, 2012

Wouldn’t you be grateful to have an early warning system for your chronic migraine condition?  Warnings for approaching earthquakes or tornados allow people to take steps to prepare for the onslaught of destructive force, as well as the opportunity to avoid the path of destruction.  A prodrome is exactly the warning system that might give migraineurs the opportunity to prepare for or to avoid the full-blown wrath of a migraine attack with its intense pain, nausea and other symptoms.  If you suffer with migraines which are preceded by prodromes, you have the opportunity to avoid your migraine triggers, make some behavioral modifications to relax yourself, and make sure your migraine treatments are nearby, just in case.

So what exactly is this prodrome warning?   To answer this question it helps to understand the four phases of a migraine.  According to Wikipedia, they are:

Prodrome
This phase precedes the headache from several days to several hours prior to the onset. For chronic migraine sufferers, this may be the first sign of a migraine. Various sources indicate about 40 to 60 percent of migraineurs may experience them.

Aura
This is a neurological phenomenon immediately preceding the onset of the pain phase, involving visual and sometimes sensory disturbances.

Pain
It is the commonly understood ‘headache’ phase. Once this phase occurs, preventative migraine treatments no longer work, and pain medication is most effective along with retreating to a dark soothing place to rest.

Postdrome
Possibly lasting for days following the headache, this phase may involve persistent mild pain, fuzzyheaded thinking, weakness, and gastrointestinal issues.  Some reports even indicate feelings of euphoria and others refer to depression.

The Mayo Clinic lists some early warning prodrome signs which might occur up to a couple of days before the migraine:

    • Gastrointestinal upset
    • Mood fluctuations including depression and irritability
    • Food craving
    • Stiffness in the neck
    • Hyperactivity or lethargy and yawning

If you are one of the 60 percent of chronic migraine sufferers who are ‘lucky’ enough to have a prodrome, make sure to take preventative and preparatory steps to help you cope with your migraines.  The earlier you begin your migraine treatment, the better your shot at lessening the symptoms when the headache hits, or possibly ward off the migraine itself by avoiding your triggers during this phase.  So, arm yourself with a migraine diary, and track the phases of your headaches to best manage your condition.

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