Types Of Migraines

Most migraines can be divided into two major categories. These two migraine types are distinguished by the presence or absence of an “aura,” a collection of neurological sensations that occur between ten and 60 minutes before the onset of migraine headaches.

Migraines with an Aura

The types of migraines that are preceded by an aura are sometimes referred to as “classic migraines.” People who suffer from these types of migraines experience strange sensations before the onset of the headache. These sensations may include:

  • Feeling suddenly, inexplicably weak or exhausted
  • Feeling the sensation of being touched or grabbed
  • Muscle problems, including numbness or tingling on one or both sides of the body
  • Seeing bright, flashing lights or changing patterns of light that resemble heat waves
  • Speech difficulties
  • Sudden confusion.

Migraines Without an Aura

Migraines that take place in the absence of an aura are more common than those preceded by an aura—in fact, they’re also known as “common migraines.” Though the strange sensations of an aura don’t occur before these types of migraines, they may still be accompanied by blurred vision, fatigue and mood changes. More commonly, the debilitating headache pain of these types of migraines may occur with no warning of any kind.

Additional Types of Migraines

In addition to being classified either with or without an aura, migraine types can be further broken down into categories. Specific types of migraines include:

  • Abdominal migraines: This type of migraine doesn’t describe a headache, but severe bouts of abdominal pain and nausea most common in school-age children.
  • Migraines without headaches: This rare condition involves migraine symptoms usually preceded by an aura, but no headache.
  • Ophthalmoplegic migraines: These migraines involve a droopy eyelid and double vision that can last for weeks after the headaches have ended.
  • Retinal migraines: Retinal migraines cause headaches and visual disturbances. In severe cases, retinal migraines can cause temporary blindness, usually in just one eye.
  • Status migraines: Status migraines are extremely severe and last longer than 72 hours. Those who suffer from these types of migraines often require hospitalization to manage the pain.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010.) Migraine basics. Retrieved January 6, 2010 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2010.) Primary headache disorders including migraine. Retrieved January 6, 2010 from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm