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Migraines are a common form of vascular headache. There are two main types: migraine with aura (previously called “classic migraine”) and migraine without aura.

Migraines: what you should know

  • Migraine symptoms vary greatly depending on the person. Common symptoms include the following:
    • Throbbing or pounding pain
    • Increased pain when moving or bending over
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Sensitivity to lights or sounds
    • Aura, the perception of a strange light, an unpleasant smell or confusing thoughts or experiences that occur before the actual headache
  • According to research, migraines are often misdiagnosed as either a tension or sinus headache. One reason: they share similar symptoms, including facial pain and congestion.
  • Women who have migraines with aura are more likely to have a stroke.
  • Migraines run in the family: If one or both of your parents have a history of migraines, the chances are greater you will have them as well. 

How can I get help for migraines?

If you have regular migraines, visit your primary care doctor to help you find relief. For additional information about when to visit your doctor, see headache.

Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • The worst headache you’ve ever had
  • A severe migraine lasting more than three days
  • Headache accompanied by the following:
    • Fever
    • Stiff neck
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Any neurologic symptoms: dizziness, weakness, confusion, numbness, slurred speech or vision changes

Care for migraine at Rush

Doctors at Rush will work with you to prevent migraines and find effective relief during a migraine. Getting an accurate diagnosis of the type of migraine you have will help you and your doctor find the most effective therapy for your needs.

Your doctor may recommend you do some of the following to help you manage your migraines:

  • Keep a migraine diary: Tracking the following information about your migraines will help your doctor know what medicine or other treatments to prescribe:
    • When your migraine occurs
    • The location and severity of the pain
    • How long your migraine lasts
    • Any additional migraine symptoms you experience
  • Know your triggers: You may find certain foods or situations trigger your migraines. See Headache Triggers for more information. Identifying your specific triggers and avoiding them can provide you some relief.
  • Find pain relief: Doctors at Rush can provide nerve blocks (injections of local anesthetic with steroids) and oral medications to help with pain during a migraine. You may also benefit from medications and other therapies that help prevent migraines. For instance, for specific types of migraines, botulinum toxin (commonly known as Botox) injections can help prevent migraines. Interventional Pain Medicine physicians at Rush perform these injections on a routine basis.
  • Get a good night’s rest: Lack of sleep can be a trigger for migraines. Research suggests that people with migraines find relief by regularly getting eight hours of sleep each night and maintaining consistent sleep and wake times.
  • If you also suffer from conditions that disrupt your sleep, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, visiting a sleep specialist at Rush may help you address both your migraines and your sleep problems.
  • Manage your stress: Stress can trigger migraines. If you need help learning stress-reduction techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, clinicians at the Integrative Medicine Program can help.

Why choose Rush for migraine care

  • Physicians at Rush are active researchers. This means that they are actively seeking better ways to treat migraines, both through traditional methods and alternative therapies.
  • The neurological sciences and neurological surgery programs at Rush are consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report in its annual “Best Hospitals” issue.


Departments and programs that treat this condition