What are the diagnostic criteria for migraine headache?

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

The diagnosis of migraine is based on the history. According to diagnostic criteria established by the International Headache Society, patients must have had at least 5 headache attacks that lasted 4–72 hours (untreated or unsuccessfully treated) and the headache must have had at least 2 of the following characteristics: [1]

  • Unilateral location

  • Pulsating quality

  • Moderate or severe pain intensity

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

In addition, during the headache the patient must have had at least 1 of the following:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Photophobia and phonophobia

Finally, these features must not be attributable to another disorder. (See the chart below.)

International Headache Society criteria for migrai International Headache Society criteria for migraine without aura.

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