How Long Can a Migraine Last – Detail Guide

How Long Can a Migraine Last
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Over 10% of people worldwide suffer from migraine, a complicated brain ailment. The four stages of a migraine episode are prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome, albeit a person may not go through each in turn.

The length of each migraine phase varies; some might last minutes, while others can last hours or even days. Each phase is also characterised by distinct symptoms, some of which include light sensitivity, nausea, transient alterations in vision, and a pounding headache.

The duration of migraine episodes and the symptoms you may encounter at each stage will be covered in this article. It will also offer you information on the best time to see a doctor for a migraine, as well as possible preventative and treatment choices.

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Migraine attack average duration – how long does migraine last?

A whole migraine episode can span from more than a day to slightly more than a week, encompassing all four stages (prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome).

Having said that, the majority of migraine bouts last one or two days in total, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

Stages of Migraine

There are four phases of migraine attacks: the most frequent stage is the headache stage, while the least common stage is the aura stage.


Three days before to the onset of a migraine headache, the prodrome phase may start. Some people can forecast the headache up to 12 hours in advance thanks to its symptoms.

During this phase, taking medication for migraines may reduce the severity of the attack or even halt it in its tracks. Prodrome-specific symptoms include frequent urination, excessive yawning, and food cravings.

Some possible prodrome symptoms that are maybe more mild are as follows:

  • Mood changes, ranging from sadness to irritability
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Trouble focusing
  • Light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • Insomnia
  • Sound sensitivity (phonophobia)
  • Nausea
  • Neck and shoulder muscle stiffness


After the prodrome phase, the aura stage usually lasts for five to sixty minutes. This stage occurs prior to around one-third of migraine migraines.

Aura symptoms are completely reversible, and the most typical ones are visual alterations, such as bright spots, shimmering lights, or even momentary blindness.

Other possible signs of an aura are as follows:

  • Sensory: Face or body tingling and numbness
  • Speech: Slurring or having trouble finding the right words
  • Motor (pertaining to movement): Insufficiency or partial paralysis
  • Brain stem-related: Vertigo, tinnitus, or ataxia are sensations that resemble spinning or uncoordinated movements.

Cortical spreading depression (CSD), a complicated brain process, is the source of migraine aura. Experts believe that meninges, the tissues that line the brain, include pain receptors that are activated by CSD.


Although some patients describe the pain as scorching, drilling, or stabbing, migraine headaches usually last four hours to three days and are characterised by throbbing, pulsing, or pounding.Six Although the headache is usually unilateral, it can sometimes be bilateral, occurring on both sides of the head.

The moderate to severe degree of migraine headache pain greatly impairs a person’s capacity to carry out everyday tasks. Movement also exacerbates the discomfort, and at least one of the following symptoms is present:

  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

During the headache stage, additional possible symptoms include:

  • Anxious or depressed mood
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Smell sensitivity
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stuffy nose
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch (allodynia)

The trigeminovascular system (TVS), a convoluted network that connects trigeminal nerve fibres to the brain’s blood arteries, is activated during a migraine episode and causes headaches.

The trigeminal nerve fibres produce substances P and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) when TVS is triggered. The throbbing agony of a migraine headache is brought on by these proteins’ effects on inflammation and blood vessel enlargement.


The brain’s recuperation phase is represented by the postdrome stage. About 80% of persons who have a migraine episode experience it, and it lasts one to two days.

Over 250 symptoms have been documented at this stage, although fatigue, trouble thinking and remembering things, and stiff neck are among the more prevalent ones. During this stage, a melancholy or even joyful mood is also possible.

Remarkably, postdrome symptoms are similar to prodrome symptoms in that they are characterised by weariness, emotional swings, and cognitive difficulties. This similarity implies that the two stages involve similar brain systems.

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Finding Migraines Relief

Acute migraine headaches can be relieved, frequently with a mix of calming home remedies and prescription medicine.


As soon as migraine symptoms appear, medication should be administered. Depending on variables such as the intensity of a migraine, a medical professional may suggest an over-the-counter (OTC; without requiring a prescription) or prescription medication..

OTC medications for migraine headaches consist of:

  • NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, include aspirin, Aleve (naproxen), Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), and
  • (Acetaminophen) Tylenol
  • Excedrin Migraine: caffeine, aspirin, and acetaminophen


Only use medicine, including over-the-counter medications, under a healthcare provider’s supervision due to potential risks. You can find out from a healthcare professional if the medication is right for you or whether it might interact negatively with other medications you use.

For moderate to severe migraine headaches, a prescription medication such as the triptan Imitrex (sumatriptan) or the combination NSAID/triptan Treximet (sumatriptan/naproxen) is frequently necessary.

By increasing the brain chemical messenger serotonin, triptans constrict blood arteries around the brain and lessen inflammation.

According to research, triptans help 76% of patients who are experiencing an acute migraine attack feel better after two hours.

Reyvow (lasmiditan), which has a comparable action without restricting blood vessels, and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor blockers, such as the following, are substitutes for triptans:

  • Nurtec ODT (rimegepant)
  • Zavzpret (zavegepant)
  • Ubrelvy (ubrogepant)

Reyvow and the CRGP receptor blockers may be a better choice for those with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease since they do not constrict blood arteries.

Because CGRP is a protein that intensifies pain signals during a migraine episode, CGRP blockers reduce inflammation in the membranes surrounding the brain.

Only around 20% of migraineurs report feeling less pain two hours after using one of the CGRP receptor blockers mentioned above, according to studies. But during the next six hours or so, the medications seem to work better.

Home Treatments

Several natural therapies, when combined with medicine, can help relieve a migraine headache. These include:

  • Sleeping in a quiet, dark room or simulating this atmosphere with earplugs and an eye mask
  • Applying a frozen neck wrap or an ice pack to your forehead
  • consuming a lot of water, particularly if you’re throwing up in addition to your headache

Limited research indicates that several Chinese herbal medicine formulations may help treat migraines in addition to conventional migraine medications. Additionally helpful could be raw ginger or ginger extracts, particularly for those who are unable to take medicine for migraines.