What is migraine headache?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

Migraine is a complex disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of headache, most often unilateral and in some cases associated with visual or sensory symptoms—collectively known as an aura—that arise most often before the head pain but that may occur during or afterward (see the image below). Migraine is most common in women and has a strong genetic component.

Migraine headache. Example of a visual migraine au Migraine headache. Example of a visual migraine aura as described by a person who experiences migraines. This patient reported that these visual auras preceded her headache by 20-30 minutes.

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