Repeated, periodic attacks of one-sided throbbing headache made worse by activity and lasting 4-72 hours. The headache is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and/or phonophobia.

There is often an early warning phase involving mood swings, food cravings, excess energy, and cognitive impairment for several hours prior to the onset of headache. Once the headache has resolved, it is typically followed by several hours of fatigue, cognitive impairment, allodynia, and/or depressed mood.

Migraine is often thought of a severe headache. While this is true for many, not all migraine attacks involve severe pain. In fact, it is possible to experience ancephalgic (silent) migraine attacks in which there is no pain at all. It is the accompanying symptoms that distinguish migraine from other types of headache disorders.

Diagnostic criteria

In order to receive a diagnosis of Migraine without aura, a person must experience at least five attacks in which symptoms meet the following criteria.

Headache attacks lasting 4-72 hours when untreated.

Headache quality meets at least 2 of the following:

  • one-sided
  • pulsating or throbbing
  • moderate or severe pain intensity
  • made worse by movement

Headache is accompanied by either:

  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • photophobia and/or phonophobia


Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) (2013). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia 2013; 33: 9-807.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.