What are the International Headache Society criteria for diagnosing a migraine headache?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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According to the International Headache Society, the diagnosis of migraine requires that the patient has experienced at least 5 attacks that fulfill the following 3 criteria and that are not attributable to another disorder. [1] First, the headache attacks must have lasted 4–72 hours (untreated or unsuccessfully treated). Second, the headache must have had at least 2 of the following characteristics:

  • Unilateral location

  • Pulsating quality

  • Moderate or severe pain intensity

  • Aggravation by or causing avoidance of routine physical activity (eg, walking or climbing stairs)

Third, during the headache the patient experiences at least 1 of the following:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Photophobia and phonophobia

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