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Up to 80% of migraine sufferers experience prodrome. Here, we explore common prodrome symptoms, and find out what it could mean for your treatment.

Prodrome is the first of four potential phases of a migraine attack. Up to 80% migraineurs (people who experience migraine) experience a prodrome phase, which lasts anywhere from 2 to 48 hours before the onset of the headache and other symptoms, such as light and sound sensitivity and extreme nausea.

If you can learn to recognise your prodrome symptoms, it might be possible to abort your migraines before they reach the attack phase.

Sorry. Don't believe you.

Luciani and colleagues studied 20 migraineurs. In the initial phase, they were asked to record their migraines and any prodrome but not to treat their migraine until the headache began. 100% of the prodromes developed into a migraine attack. In the treatment phase of the study, the 20 patients were treated with naratriptan, and told to use it when they had prodrome symptoms and felt a migraine was "inevitable". The prodrome developed into a migraine only 40% of the time.

A study of 19 migraineurs by Waelkens found that treating patients during the prodrome phase decreased the amount of migraines by 65%.

Although you shouldn't treat yourself in the prodrome phase, if you have reliable and recognisable prodrome symptoms, you could discuss this option with your doctor at your next appointment.

Possible prodrome symptoms

Here are fourteen possible symptoms of prodrome, which can predict your migraine attack. If you're unsure about whether you are experiencing prodrome, try keeping a headache diary. Identifying your migraine pattern could help you nip it in the bud as soon as it starts.

Symptom 1: Speech problems

Aphasia (problems with the production, comprehension or selection of the right word; it causes a problem with both speaking and writing) is a common, early prodrome symptom. Reading and speaking are problematic.

Symptom 2: Low Mood

Depression often occurs in prodrome, even in people who normally don't experience depression. That's because serotonin - the cheering, sleep-promoting neurotransmitter - drops when we get a migraine. Serotonin is an important mood-regulator.

Symptom 3: Irritability

If you're in the prodrome phase, you may snap at the people closest to you. This can make the migraineur in the prodrome phase quite difficult to live with. If people are asking you why you're so moody all of a sudden, consider that you may have a migraine on the way.

Symptom 4: Poor Concentration

Not only can this be a serious irritation for migraineurs, making it hard to work during the prodrome phase, it can also be dangerous if migraineurs are required to drive or operate machinery while their concentration is impaired.

Symptom 5: Fatigue

When you have a prodrome, you are not merely "tired", you can be so exhausted and weak that all you want to do is creep off to bed in a dark and cool room and sleep.

Symptom 6: Constipation or Diarrhoea

Both are possible during the prodromal phase of a migraine attack. Children are more likely to experience diarrhoea than adults. However, many migraineurs find it risky to venture that far from their bathroom during the prodrome phase.

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