What is Migraine?

Breaking down migraine

Migraine impacts 1 in 7 people, most often between the ages of 15 and 55. And women are three times more likely to have migraine than men.


MILLION PEOPLE in the U.S. are impacted
by migraine — one of the most disabling conditions worldwide.

What is migraine?

Migraine is a neurological condition that can cause intense pain on one or both sides of the head for 4 to 72 hours. It is a recurring type of headache. But unlike other headaches, the pain often includes:

Throbbing or
Pain in the temples or behind one eye or ear
Light and sound sensitivity

Types of migraine

There are two common types of migraine: migraine with and without aura. Aura is a phase of a migraine attack when people may see flashes of light, have blind spots, or feel tingling in their hands or face.

1 in 5

people with migraine experience aura —
most commonly men

How migraine can
disrupt your life

Some people get a migraine one or two days a month. But others suffer from migraines 15 or more days each month.

While each person experiences migraine differently, the impact almost always disrupts their everyday life. The pain, nausea, sensitivity, and exhaustion make it difficult to function — which can affect work, school, and your family and social life.

It's hard because migraine is always there in the back of your mind. I'm always worried about when the next one's going to happen.

Ellie W

Actual Nurtec ODT Patient

Individual results may vary

What are the symptoms of migraine?

People with migraine can experience many different symptoms, which often occur within four stages of a migraine attack.



The first stage of a migraine can start as early as 24 hours before you get an attack. The common signs and symptoms of prodrome include:

  • Food cravings
  • Mood changes
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Difficulty concentrating



10 to 30 minutes prior to an attack, some people experience the aura phase. Aura may also continue in the headache phase of an attack. These symptoms may include:

  • Seeing bright or flashing lights or zig-zag lines
  • Feeling tingling or numbness in the hands or face



Stage three is what most people consider the attack itself. Migraines typically start gradually and become more intense over time. The most common symptoms in this stage include:

  • Throbbing or pulsing pain, commonly on one side of the head
  • Pain at the temples or behind one eye or ear
  • Increased sensitivity to light, noise, and odors
  • Nausea and vomiting



The state following the headache, postdrome can last up to two days after a migraine attack. Symptoms may include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Joyful mood
  • Depressed mood

What causes migraine?

Researchers have yet to pinpoint exactly what causes migraine. Many believe you are more likely to have migraines if it's part of your family history.

More specifically, many researchers believe that a possible cause of migraine pain is related to a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). When the brain releases CGRPs, they attach to receptors and cause nerve inflammation — starting a migraine attack.

Migraine triggers

Migraine triggers are what can cause a migraine attack. In some cases, a single trigger may cause an attack. In others, several triggers may combine to start a migraine.

What triggers a migraine attack is unique to each person. And knowing what triggers your migraines can help you get ahead of them. Here are some common triggers:


  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Not enough sleep
  • Too much sleep
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Menstruation & hormonal changes


  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cured & processed meats
  • Dehydration
  • Skipped meals


  • Weather changes
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Strong smells


  • Migraine medicine overuse

Treating migraine

Learn about the range of available migraine treatments.

explore treatment options

Need more resources?

provides global access to information and resources on migraine. They also support important research toward treatment advances, as well as patient support and advocacy.

is driven by the vision of "a world without headache" to provide advocacy, research, awareness, and education for headache pain and the people who experience it.

is devoted to expanding the understanding of migraine and its full spectrum of symptoms. This goal is supported by their podcasts, symposiums, awareness campaign, and comprehensive research initiative.

treating migraines

Learn about a range of
treatment options

explore treatment options

patient stories
and reviews

Hear patients
share their experiences
with Nurtec ODT.

view stories

patient support

Get valuable tips and
information on Nurtec ODT
and managing migraine.

learn more