The main symptom of a migraine is usually an intense headache on 1 side of the head.
The pain is usually a moderate or severe throbbing sensation that gets worse when you move and prevents you carrying out normal activities.
In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck.
Other symptoms commonly associated with a migraine include:
Some people also occasionally experience other symptoms, including:
Not everyone with a migraine experiences these additional symptoms and some people may experience them without having a headache.
The symptoms of a migraine usually last between 4 hours and 3 days, although you may feel very tired for up to a week afterwards.
About 1 in 3 people with migraines have temporary warning symptoms, known as aura, before a migraine.
Aura symptoms typically develop over the course of about 5 minutes and last for up to an hour.
Some people may experience aura followed by only a mild headache or no headache at all.
You should see a GP if you have frequent or severe migraine symptoms that cannot be managed with occasional use of over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol.
Try not to use the maximum dosage of painkillers on a regular or frequent basis as this could make it harder to treat headaches over time.
You should also make an appointment to see a GP if you have frequent migraines (on more than 5 days a month), even if they can be controlled with medicine, as you may benefit from preventative treatment.
You should call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone you're with experiences:
Migraines often develop in distinct stages, although not everyone goes through all of these:
prodromal (pre-headache) stage – changes in mood, energy levels, behaviour and appetite that can occur several hours or days before an attack
aura – usually visual problems, such as flashes of light or blind spots, which can last for 5 minutes to an hour
headache stage – usually a pulsating or throbbing pain on 1 side of the head, often accompanied by feeling sick, vomiting or extreme sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds, which can last for 4 to 72 hours
resolution stage – when the headache and other symptoms gradually fade away, although you may feel tired for a few days afterwards