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Migraine headache in Adult
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Migraine headache in Adult

Contributors: Jamie Adams MD, Richard L. Barbano MD, PhD, Carolyn Zyloney MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Migraine headaches are recurrent moderate to severe headaches, typically unilateral in location, pounding or pulsating in quality of pain, and lasting 4-72 hours. Nausea and/or vomiting, photophobia, and/or phonophobia may accompany the headaches. Symptoms are usually worse with activity. Headaches may or may not be preceded by an aura, which is a transient visual, language, sensory, or motor disturbance. The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (ICHD-3), identifies 3 main categories: migraine without aura, migraine with aura, and chronic migraine. 

A small percentage of patients may experience migraine attacks without any associated head pain, typically characterized by migrainous aura and/or other migrainous symptoms such as photophobia or nausea.

Patients may identify triggers that induce headaches. For some women, hormonal changes (particularly fluctuations in estrogen levels) can serve as a significant trigger, potentially leading to menstrual migraines. There may also be a positive family history of migraine headache. Age of onset varies, and migraine headaches can start in childhood, although they most commonly begin between the ages of 15 and 25, with onset in girls often starting around menarche. Migraines are 3 times more common in women than in men.

Related topic: basilar migraine headache


G43.909 – Migraine, unspecified, not intractable, without status migrainosus

37796009 – Migraine

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Last Reviewed:01/20/2024
Last Updated:01/21/2024
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Patient Information for Migraine headache in Adult
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Migraine headache in Adult
A medical illustration showing key findings of Migraine headache : Nausea, Vomiting, Photophobia, Recurring episodes or relapses, Perceived flashing lights, Phonophobia, Severe unilateral headache, Partial vision loss
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