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24 'Warning Signs' That Might Mean a Migraine Is Coming

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Although there are several different types of migraines (aura, hemiplegic, vestibular), many of us who experience them may get “warning signs” in the hours or days before the migraine sets in. For me, I always know one is coming when I wake up with pain and stiffness in the back of my neck and a feeling of intense pressure at the base of my skull. Over the course of the day I get a headache and nausea that intensify until a full-blown migraine sets in that night.

But the symptoms or sensations that provide a “heads-up” about a migraine vary for everyone – and some get no warning at all. So we asked our Mighty community to share some of the “warning signs” that let them know a migraine is on its way. Some of these might be signs you notice, too.

Here’s what the community told us:

1. “Tightness in the back of my neck, slightly nauseous, headache behind my eyes. That trifecta and I have about 30 minutes to take my meds and hunker down before a full-blown migraine hits.”

2. “I start to feel disconnected from my body. Like my movements aren’t mine. That can last for a day.”

3. “I get transient aphasia, meaning the words I’m saying come out all wrong: I either pronounce things incorrectly or can’t say the right word. I start yawning nonstop. I get euphoric, have lots of energy and feel like I could run a marathon. I usually wake up the next day with the worst migraine.”

4. “For me, I instantly feel like I’m about to throw up. I smell this weird smell too that I can’t describe, but I know once I smell it I’ll have a severe attack within the hour.”

5. “No warning signs at all for me! I go from 0-60 so fast! One moment my head feels fine and the next I have stabbing pain, aura and sometimes nausea.”

6. “Seeing stars and halos. Then slowly my vision starts to leave. Shortly thereafter I feel tightness and pain on the right side of my head and neck. Nausea and severe sensitivity to light and sound.”

7. “A few days before a migraine I become even more exhausted than usual. Anxiety creeps up seemingly out of nowhere the day of. Then when the aura comes on I know I’m done for.”

8. “My neck gets really, really tight and I feel the pain creeping up into one side of my head. Or I start getting a headache but I can feel it turning into a storm of something more.”

9. “Visual disturbances. Diplopia, flashes and the like are pretty good indicators that a migraine is coming (sometimes I get them without pain). The immediate precursor is light sensitivity and pain behind my nose or in my teeth.”

10. “Half my face gets numb and/or tingly, I start to see flashes in one eye (similar to when a camera has a bright flash), then I start to have distorted vision, eventually losing vision in one or both eyes.”

11. “Each time is different. Sometimes my eyes and ears will start to hurt, my head will get really hot, I might feel lightheaded or nauseous. Other times I don’t even get a warning sign – it just happens out of nowhere.”

12. “I suffer aura migraines so I start to get blind spots in my eyes, usually to the point I can’t see at all. Sometimes it lasts 10 minutes but sometimes it lasts up to an hour, and then the nausea and pain kick in.”


13. “Pressure in my jaw, temples and forehead. When it starts to meet in the middle right behind my eyes is when it’s about to really get bad.”

14. “Sudden unexplainable nausea, random dizziness, sudden light sensitivity and drastic temperature fluctuations.”

15. “Colors and lights start to blend together. Like adding a splash of water to a watercolor painting. Things get brighter and louder. Then the sounds become muffled. At that point I have 15-20 minutes to take cover.”

16. “I feel an odd sense of detachment and confusion. I get slight to moderate nausea. I become more sensitive to sounds, smells, tastes and touch.”

17. “Everything looks wavy, like when you look through the heat coming out of a toaster. And I get indigestion – probably one of the things that leads to the vomiting later.”

18. “First my neck and shoulders become tight. Then comes the eye strain followed by a regular throbbing pain behind my eyes.”

19. “Irritability. I’m not a cranky person, so when that happens I know a bad migraine is on the way.”

20. “I see little bitty flashes of light in my entire field of vision, like fireflies flying around me.”

21. “It starts to feel like all the blood rushes to my head whenever I move too fast or bend over.”

22. “None! All of my extra symptoms (sensitivity to light, sound and smell, neck pain, nausea and flat-out crankiness) set in after the migraine does.”

23. “Sudden aversion to some smells, bright lights and noise.”

24. “For typical/standard migraines, my service dog usually alerts me. For atypical ones, it varies, so I rarely know.”

Do you get any “warning signs” that a migraine is coming? Share in the comments below!

Originally published: May 25, 2017
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