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14 Symptoms of Migraine – as Shown in Photos

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Although many people may experience similar symptoms, migraine looks different for everyone – especially since there are multiple types of migraine, including chronic vestibular migraine, hemiplegic migraine, migraine with or without aura, migraine with brainstem aura and retinal migraine, each with its own set of symptoms.

Whether you’re battling largely “invisible” symptoms, such as pain or nausea, or something more apparent, like swelling or facial drooping, these symptoms can often manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the individual and their unique health situation.

But even though migraine symptoms can take on different forms, it is important to raise awareness of these manifestations so those with migraine can be better understood and have more productive conversations with loved ones, friends and doctors. So, we asked our Mighty community to share photos depicting one of the symptoms they experience. Let’s shed some light on how complex and multifaceted migraine can really be.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. Brain Fog

“When I get a migraine, my words come out jumbled. As a marriage and family therapist, I have to cancel my clients because the brain fog won’t lift – let alone the pain. The confusion that comes with chronic migraines is my least favorite symptom.” – Shae C.

woman lying in bed with an 'out of order' sign across her forehead

2. Sensitivity to Light and Sound

“When I can’t close the curtains and the sun hits me or just a bit, I put a sweater on and put the hoodie down on my face. Though it is little sunlight it still bothers me…” – Maria A.R.

woman taking a selfie with the hood of her jacket pulled down over her eyes

“I live in Florida where it is always sunny and bright. Except on the first floor of my house. This is the only space where there are blinds and curtains on every glass opening. And when I have a migraine, this is what it looks like at 3:30 p.m. We even tinted the back door because we have a white vinyl fence and it reflects the sunlight right into the house.” – Olivia M.R.

dark room

“The flash hurt. I get very sensitive to light and sound while having a migraine. I have to wear sunglasses inside the stores and people sometimes look at me like I am wearing them to hide something. I also have arguments with my partner because I want the light off and he can’t see his keyboard. And my toddler is so loud, but I don’t like to tell her to go away from me.” – Alice C.

woman wearing glasses and lying down, squinting

3. Nausea/Vomiting

“Vomiting, nausea… even after caffeine and pain/migraine medicine. I live like a vampire (dark rooms, covered windows). Putting a towel on the floor for my knees (the pressure causes knee pain from fibromyalgia and arthritis) in case, when I start to vomit during a migraine, it’s difficult to stop. The smell and pain from vomiting only makes you puke more, like a never-ending cycle. I’m pretty sure it’s hell on earth for chronic illnesses sufferers.” – Tea M.

woman kneeling on the ground with her head over a toilet

4. Swollen Eyes

“My eyes (either/or) swell and the pain is unbearable.” – Jordan G.

woman lying in bed with swollen eyes

5. Aura

“Aura. No, I can’t drive myself to my appointment because I would literally be risking myself and everyone on the road with me. This is a representation I created of one type of aura I experience.” – Selena M.W.

visual representation of a woman's aura. light is shooting out from a central point

6. Facial Drooping

“Hemiplegic migraine. Visible symptom: drooping face, slurred speech, general inability to do anything.” – Carol M.

woman taking a selfie with half of her face drooping due to a hemiplegic migraine

“The photo I attached shows a severe migraine in progress. It is normal for me to have a droopy eye during a migraine attack. Both eyes are bloodshot and my left eye is partially closed due to the pain on that side of my head. The photo was taken after two doses of my prescription pain medication and my pain level was still at an eight.” – Jaime S.

7. Fatigue/Exhaustion

“My dog demonstrating on a migraine day my extreme fatigue. Or how I feel on a postdrome day. Blahhhhhhh.” – Polly A.K.

dog sprawled out on top of the couch

“The overwhelming fatigue. During the migraine days/weeks/months, then the hangover period. Feeling too exhausted to get up and turn out the lights so you just bury your head under the blanket or robe and hug your best friend.” – Nat K.

woman lying in bed hugging her dog

8. Pressure in Your Head

“Dark eyes from all the pressure I feel in my head! (Like I got hit over the head by a 2×4.)” – Sasha T.

woman wearing a black hoodie with dark circles around her eyes

9. Needing an Emergency Supplies Kit

“That’s how the side table next to my bed looks like, every single night. My ‘warrior kit.’ All these are required to ensure I do my best to wake up even with terrible pain. A blindfold to avoid direct light, a pair of socks to ensure my feet don’t go cold, a set of painkillers and topical analgesics that are readily available when a migraine strikes in the middle of the night. I never know what my body might need during those six to seven hours I try to sleep.” – Kanchan B.

bedside table full of emergency migraine supplies

10. Head Pain

“Feeling like there’s an ice pick being driven up through my skull.” – Mary A.

woman taking a selfie

“This photo is when I came home from the hospital after spending a night there due to migraines. I’m with my medical alert dog who is trained for migraine alerts. In this photo, a few words come to mind… mind-numbing pain. The pulsating that is never-ending that you cannot see in the photo but you can see in my face when I cry and when I scream in pain. The pain is intense and makes me want to rip my skull open.” – Gelcys C.

black and white photo of a woman lying in bed hugging her service dog

“Trying to numb out the pain with ice.” – Amanda C.

woman with an ice pack wrapped around her head

11. Needing to Try Alternative Therapies

“Trying obscure methods to make you feel better…” – Ally W.

woman sitting in a tub with cold steam coming off

“My migraines are intractable. I have tried extremely painful treatments with their own side effects to just end the unstoppable pain.” – Mindi B.H.

woman taking a selfie in a dark room

“Chiropractor’s office, trying literally anything and everything to feel better.” – Kirstie J.

woman lying face down on a table at the chiropractor's office

12. Neck Pain

“Lying with an ice pack on my head and a heating pad on my neck. I get neck pain along with my migraines so I need the combo of hot and cold for relief.” – Scarah S.

woman lying down with an ice pack on her head and a heating pad under her neck

13. Eye Dilation Issues

“I suffer from migraines due to an issue with my neck/spine that’s not able to be officially diagnosed, and whenever my neck/spine gives me a serious migraine or gives me pinched nerves along with migraines, sometimes my pupils will be uneven sizes (anisocoria). Even though the difference wouldn’t be severely noticeable, it was definitely in person. Sometimes my eyes would be so large that even bright light wouldn’t be able to make them dilate fully. Even my eye doctor commented on how large my pupils are and others would wonder why my pupils are so large. It doesn’t happen much anymore or not as bad and only appears on rare occasions thankfully. [This photo is] from a year or so ago. Looking towards a bright light and my pupils are still large, slightly uneven but not too noticeable.” – Shelley A.

close-up photo of a woman's eyes. her pupils are dilated

14. Vestibular System Dysfunction

“Vertigo, because nothing screams ‘I’m incapacitated’ like hugging the floor to keep from falling.” – Selena M.W.

migraine associated vertigo makes my world go round. literally. like a demented teacup ride at warp speed.

“I’m a hemiplegic migraine sufferer. I get slurred speech, loss of balance, loss of the use of my left side, brain fog, allodynia, vomiting, diarrhea, aura, blurred double vision, photosensitivity and sometimes blackouts. This was my last hospital admittance, on my birthday, with an ice pack on my head, receiving oxygen therapy and morphine via IV. This is what happens if I don’t manage to take my triptans in time. Then there’s the three- to five-day ‘echo’ where I’m a little ‘drunk,’ uncoordinated and suffer tension headaches. I hate migraines.” – Katherine R.P.

woman lying in a hospital bed wearing an oxygen mask and holding a rag

Originally published: May 11, 2018
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