| Tue, Jun 09, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

A Migraine Without Pain is Still a Migraine

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

migraine headachesMigraine headaches are unique. Some hurt, some don’t. For people who do have painful migraines, the pain can be moderate or severe. The person may feel sharp pain or throbbing pain. The pain may be located on one side of the head or on both sides of the head. Or, the person may feel like their head is in a vice grip. Many people may also experience migraine auras or visual disturbances a few minutes to 24 hours before the pain starts.1 For many people, this is a warning sign a bad headache is about to happen.

There are some migraine sufferers who don’t have much or any pain at all. These people may just experience an aura. An aura can be described as a group of migraine symptoms. These symptoms may include seeing stars or zigzag lines, flashing lights, blurred vision, a temporary blind spot, tunnel vision, or sensitivity to light.

A migraine headache is caused by abnormal brain activity. This activity can be triggered by many things, such as:1

  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Lack of sleep or food
  • Alcohol
  • Bright lights
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Certain foods, such as red wine, aged cheese, bacon, hot dogs, fermented or pickled foods or foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG)

About twelve percent of the U.S. population gets migraine headaches.2 For many people, their first migraine happens between the ages of 10 and 45.1 However, that’s not true for all migraine sufferers, as some people have their first migraine later in life. Migraines also tend to run in families.

A person with migraine headaches is at greater risk for stroke.1Risk is even higher in people who have migraine auras.1

A headache can be a symptom of a serious condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you are experiencing a headache and one or more of these migraine symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately.3

  • Confusion or trouble understanding speech
  • Fainting
  • High fever, greater than 102 F to 104 F (39 C to 40 C)
  • Numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Stiff neck
  • Trouble seeing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble walking

Migraines may not be a symptom of an underlying disease; however, they can be severely debilitating for many people. Only a doctor can rule out serious underlying conditions and diagnose migraine headaches. If you are experiencing unexplained headaches, schedule a visit with your doctor.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


Migraine: Learn the causes, symptoms and treatments options for migraine headaches. — U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Medicare Made Clear: A resources for information and tools to help you make informed Medicare decisions.


1 Migraine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, October 29, 2013

2 Migraine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, February 18, 2015

3 Headache, Definition: Mayo Clinic Staff, February 27, 2015


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