What Does A Migraine Feel Like? This List Of Symptoms Explains Chronic Migraines Vs Other Types Of Headaches

Migraines are more than another headache.

What Does A Migraine Feel Like? Chronic Migraine Symptoms Versus Different Types Of Headaches unsplash / Radu Florin

A migraine can strike at any moment and leave you feeling drained and useless.

If you suffer from frequent or even chronic migraines, you know how incapacitating they can really be. You also know how indescribable the pain of the condition is.

What does a migraine feel like?

While there are different types of migraines, and the way they manifest varies from person to person, migraine symptoms — as opposed to those caused by different types of headaches — are often debilitating, causing you to forgo daily tasks and activities that you may have enjoyed doing otherwise.


The pain may make you want to hide away in a dark room, place a cool washcloth on your forehead or sleep off the headache for hours.

RELATED: Why So Many Women Suffer From Chronic Migraines & How It Affects Their Daily Lives

However you cope with the pain migraines cause, you may even be more bothered by the constant questions from others. Your loved ones may not understand how severe the pain really is — or can be. They may assume you're being lazy, exaggerating the pain or maybe even faking it altogether.


Believing that your migraine is not taken seriously can hurt worse than the migraine pain itself, but a way to help your friends and family understand how migraines affect you and your health is to thoroughly explain how migraines feel.

Though explaining complicated migraine symptoms to non-sufferers may seem like a challenging task, doing so can allow migraine sufferers and non-sufferers to better understand each other.

Depending on the person and type of migraine, there are certain migraine symptoms that most chronic migraine sufferers endure.

Using medical terms and metaphors to describe the unique sensations each symptom produces helps people with chronic migraines communicate their condition more effectively with their doctors and loved ones.


The following 12 migraine symptoms are all part of what it feels like to have chronic migraines, as opposed to other different types of headaches.

1. Buzzing electricity

Migraines make your brain feel electrified. You might feel regular shocks on your head or residual burning pain as if an electrical current is making its way through your brain.

Typically, electrical pain starts at the base of your skull and can radiate to your scalp. Occasionally, the feeling may also be felt in your neck, and all affected areas may be tender after an episode.

2. Loss of feeling

Sometimes, during a migraine attack, you might lose feeling in a part of your face or your limbs. This stroke-like symptom can be incredibly scary, especially if you've never experienced it before.


The numbness can last for a few hours and may be accompanied by speech problems, muscle weakness or confusion.

3. Throbbing in the head

Throbbing is one of the most common symptoms of a migraine. Pulsing sensations tend to be felt in only one side of the head and can continue for days if you're unlucky.

The throbbing can get so extreme that your balance and coordination may be affected.

4. Light sensitivity

Known as photophobia, this is another common migraine symptom. Bright lights often become burdensome when a migraine first hits, encouraging you to find a dark space to relax in.

Wearing an eye mask and just turning off lights and electronic devices are great ways to prevent the discomfort that you feel when looking at light.


Doctors use this migraine symptom to diagnose many chronic migraine sufferers.

RELATED: 6 Common Causes Of Migraines (That You May Not Realize) — And How To Treat The Headaches Without Medication

5. Blurry vision and auras

Vision changes, including blurred vision and the temporary loss of vision, can occur during migraine attacks. You may see flashes of light, blind spots and other floating objects in your field of view.

These visual signs are known as auras and are a symptom of classic migraines.

6. Pain with touch (allodynia)

Gentle touches that usually don't hurt you may be painful during a migraine attack. Brushing your hair, laughing and showering may trigger intense pain throughout your body.


However, migraine sufferers often experience allodynia only on their head. If you're like me, then the pain might even come when you place your head on a pillow.

7. Stiffness

Moving can be more difficult when migraines are involved. Your jaw might feel as if it's wired shut, and your neck may not turn so smoothly.

If you have a tension migraine headache, then you may also be clenching your shoulder, back and neck muscles without even realizing it.

Important note: A stiff neck may be a sign of a more serious health condition, so contact your doctor to rule out other issues.

8. Light-headedness

Migraines make a lot of people feel dizzy and faint. Vestibular migraines (i.e., migraines that cause vertigo) can be dangerous if not treated carefully.


If you feel light-headed during a migraine headache, then you should change positions slowly and drink lots of fluids. You should also avoid looking up or down while walking.

RELATED: 6 Common Causes Of Migraines (That You May Not Realize) — And How To Treat The Headaches Without Medication

9. Ringing in ears (tinnitus)

Migraines are linked to tinnitus and other hearing disturbances. The ringing may be caused by auras, but it may occur without an aura.

The ringing in your ears during migraines is high-pitched, sometimes replacing other sounds in the room. The duration of tinnitus episodes vary.;


10. Pressure

Tightness or a squeezing feeling around your head are common migraine symptoms. The pressure can be throughout your head or centralized to a certain part.

It might feel like you have a head cold. For adults, stress migraines are likely the culprits of this symptom.

11. Nausea

Stomach issues like nausea and vomiting are common symptoms as well. Because migraines are disorienting, you may feel uneasiness in your stomach or have to use the restroom more frequently.

Certain foods may make you feel sick, and doing anything (besides sleeping) can upset your stomach.

12. Pins and needles

You know the feeling. It's like when your foot falls asleep because you've been sitting on it. But, this time, it's your head that's falling asleep — and maybe parts of your face.


A bunch of pinpricks jamming into your skull isn't exactly pleasant.

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Meaghan Summers is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, lifestyle and relationship topics.