Sydney Headache & Migraine Centre

What does migraine feel like?

Migraines are more than just a headache; they are a complex and often debilitating neurological condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Understanding what a migraine feels like is crucial, not only for those who suffer from them but also for those who want to empathize and support loved ones dealing with this condition. In this blog, we’ll explore the intricate and often indescribable sensations and experiences that accompany a migraine.

The Unmistakable Pounding

A migraine typically starts as a pulsating, throbbing pain on one side of the head, but it can affect both sides. This pain is often intense and relentless. The pounding sensation is unlike any other headache, and it can be debilitating, making it difficult to carry on with daily activities.

Sensitivity to Light and Sound

Migraine sufferers often experience extreme sensitivity to light and sound during an attack. Even the slightest noise or a soft, natural light can feel like an assault on the senses. This sensitivity can lead people to seek refuge in a dark, quiet room.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea is a common symptom of migraines and can be incredibly distressing. The combination of intense head pain and nausea can lead to vomiting in some cases, which can further exacerbate the discomfort and weakness associated with migraines.

Visual Disturbances (Aura)

Not all migraines are accompanied by visual disturbances, but for those who experience them, it’s known as an “aura.” Auras can manifest as a range of visual phenomena, including shimmering lights, blind spots, zigzag lines, or even temporary loss of vision. These can be frightening and disorienting experiences.

Physical Symptoms

Migraines can also manifest with various physical symptoms, such as tingling or numbness in the face or limbs. Some individuals may experience motor symptoms, like difficulty speaking or moving certain body parts. These symptoms can be alarming and may mimic stroke-like symptoms.

Duration and Phases

Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. They are often divided into phases, including the prodrome (pre-headache phase), aura (if present), the headache phase, and the postdrome (post-headache phase). The duration and intensity of each phase can vary from person to person.

Emotional Impact

The emotional toll of migraines should not be underestimated. Sufferers often feel frustrated, anxious, and even depressed due to the recurring nature of these debilitating attacks. The unpredictability of when a migraine might strike can lead to stress and disruption in daily life.



A migraine is a complex and multifaceted condition that goes far beyond a mere headache. It encompasses a wide range of symptoms, from the unmistakable pounding pain to visual disturbances, sensitivity to light and sound, and physical and emotional impacts. Understanding what a migraine feels like is vital for both those experiencing it and those supporting loved ones with the condition. Migraine management often involves identifying triggers, seeking medical help, and exploring various treatments and lifestyle changes to improve the quality of life for those affected by this challenging condition.

Book A Migraine/Headache Assessment

Book online or give us a call on 1300MyHeadache (1300 694 323) to organise an assessment with Sydney Headache & Migraine Centre and learn more about what causes your migraines and how we can help treat them.

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