You are here


What is migraine?

A migraine is a relatively common medical condition that can severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and his or her family and friends. Almost 8% of Canadians over the age of 12 have been diagnosed with migraine, of which 75% are women and 25% are men. Migraine is most commonly experienced by both men and women between the ages of 25 and 39.

There are two different types of migraines: migraines without aura and migraines with aura. Migraine without aura is a condition characterized by moderate to severe throbbing and unilateral pain. The pain is worsened by movement and accompanied by at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea, loss of appetite and/or vomiting
  • Photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)
  • Phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound)

Migraines without aura are characterized by a sudden onset without warning signs and can have a major impact on the sufferer’s daily life. On average, untreated migraine episodes last from 4 to 72 hours.

A migraine with aura involves any number of different sensations that range from visual disturbances to physical sensations. The aura symptoms usually occur in alternating body sites during different attacks. Almost always preceding the headache, the aura symptoms can last between 5 and 60 minutes. Some people report having a prodrome, a feeling of strangeness a day or two before the attack begins. Prodromes are characterized by mood changes, food cravings, feeling tired or hyperactive, or excessive yawning. Some people may also experience fatigue, stiffness in the neck and/or difficulty concentrating.