How Long Do Migraines Last: Symptoms and Treatment Insights

Migraines are more than just bad headaches; they are complex neurological condition that can range from a few hours to multiple days, with fluctuating symptoms and intensities. Understanding the basics of migraine attacks - from  typical symptoms and factors influencing their duration - as well as treatment options, can help migraine sufferers come up with a proactive plan to manage them.

With knowledge comes power - understanding your triggers and knowing when a migraine attack starts could help you prevent migraines or at least manage them more effectively. So let’s dive deeper into this topic and shed some light on how long migraines last.

Table of Contents:

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is not just a regular headache. It’s a complex neurological condition that can cause intense throbbing or pulsing pain, usually on one side of the head. Migraines are not like typical headaches; they often cause more than just pain, and can severely affect one’s life.

Migraines are caused by abnormal brain activity affecting nerve signals, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. This process triggers inflammation and swelling, leading to pain and other symptoms.

The Different Types of Migraines

  • Classic Migraine: Also known as a “migraine with aura,” this type begins with visual disturbances (the aura) followed by severe headache pain.
  • Common Migraine: A “migraine without aura” doesn’t have the initial visual signs but still results in moderate to severe headache pain.
  • Silent Migraine: In these cases, you experience all the typical migraine symptoms except for actual head pain.

Misconceptions About Migraines

A misunderstanding often present is that migraines are simply severe headaches. However, anyone who has experienced a migraine knows it’s much more than that. Another myth is that only adults get migraines when in fact children can also suffer from them too - even infants.

Last but not least, many people believe stress alone causes migraines when actually numerous factors contribute, including hormonal changes in women due to menstruation or menopause, certain foods like aged cheese or wine, lack of sleep, weather changes, sensory stimuli such as bright lights or strong smells - even physical exertion can trigger a migraine attack.

Key Takeaway: 

Migraines are a complex neurological condition that can cause intense pain and other debilitating symptoms. They are caused by abnormal brain activity affecting nerve signals, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. Misconceptions about migraines include believing they’re simply bad headaches or only adults get them when children can also suffer from them too. Seeking professional help such as family chiropractic care is recommended for natural healing methods instead of relying solely on medications.

Symptoms of a Migraine

Migraine can lead to a range of unexpected symptoms, which are the result of complex neurological events.

Sensory Disturbances

The first signs of a migraine attack often involve sensory disturbances known as auras. These can include seeing spots or flashing lights, feeling tingling sensations in the face or hands, and even experiencing temporary vision loss.

Nausea and Vomiting

Many people also experience nausea during a migraine attack, which can sometimes progress to vomiting. This is thought to be due to changes in vagal tone and irritation to the brainstem.

Sensitivity to Light and Sound

A heightened sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia) is another common symptom. Many people find they need to lie down in a dark, quiet room when their migraines strike because normal levels of light and noise become intolerable.


Weakness on one side of the body, such as in an arm, hand or leg, is a common symptom before and after attacks that can last for hours to days depending on severity. 

Tips for Managing Sensitivity During Migraines:

  • Darken your environment: Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light.
  • Limits sounds: Consider using earplugs or headphones playing soft music or white noise.

Health experts worldwide who specialize in treating these conditions naturally, without drugs recommend consulting a healthcare provider if you suspect having any of the above-mentioned symptoms regularly.  Early detection leads to better treatment outcomes long-term. For more information, visit

Key Takeaway: 

Migraines are not just headaches, they can cause sensory disturbances like auras, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, fatigue/weakness on one side of the body. To manage these symptoms during migraines you can darken your environment or limit sounds. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms regularly for better treatment outcomes long-term.

Average Length of a Migraine

Migraines usually last between 4 and 72 hours, but it can vary from person to person and even from one episode to another. The length of a migraine is divided into four stages: prodrome, aura, attack, and postdrome.

Prodrome Stage

This stage occurs one or two days before the actual headache begins. Symptoms may include mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst, and urination.

Aura Stage

Auras are symptoms of the nervous system that usually occur before or during migraines. They’re often visual disturbances like seeing bright spots or flashes of light.

Attack Stage

Migraines typically last anywhere from four to seventy-two hours. Some people might have migraines several times a month while others might get them much less frequently.

Postdrome Stage

Following a severe attack, some people report feeling drained while others feel mildly euphoric. This could last up to 24 hours after the headache subsides.

Remember, these durations are averages, and there’s considerable variation between individuals. Some people may experience symptoms for longer periods due to factors such as stress levels or certain medications they’re taking.

In rare cases known as chronic migraines, headaches occur at least 15 days per month over three months. If you suffer frequent or very severe headaches, it’s important to seek professional help. Chiropractic care, for instance, offers natural non-drug options for managing chronic conditions like migraines by reducing inflammation in body tissues and improving nerve function..

Key Takeaway: 

The average length of a migraine can vary from person to person and is divided into four stages: prodrome, aura, attack, and postdrome. The duration of each stage differs for everyone and can be affected by factors such as stress levels or medication. Seeking professional help for frequent or severe headaches is important, and chiropractic care offers natural non-drug options for managing chronic conditions like migraines.

Factors That Impact the Length of a Migraine

Migraines are complicated and can be influenced by various factors, each playing a role in determining how long your migraine might last. Understanding these influences is key to managing migraines effectively.

Stress Levels

Studies have shown that stress is one of the most common triggers for migraines. High levels of stress may not only provoke an attack but also extend its duration. It’s important to manage stress through relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or even simple deep-breathing exercises.

Sleep Patterns

Poor sleep quality or irregularity of sleeping patterns can be a contributing factor to migraine intensity and duration. Ensuring you get enough restful sleep every night could help reduce both frequency and duration of your attacks.

Dietary Influences

Certain foods and beverages may set off migraines in some individuals - such as aged cheese, cured meats, coffee, red wine, cocoa, citrus fruits, and more. Keeping a food diary may help identify potential dietary triggers so they can be avoided.

Medication Use

The use of certain medications can also influence how long a migraine lasts. Some drugs used for other conditions may inadvertently prolong or intensify migraine symptoms while overuse of painkillers designed to treat headaches (known as rebound headaches) can actually cause more frequent and longer-lasting episodes. The FDA has warned about prolonged opiate use for migraines.

Natural Alternatives: Chiropractic Care

If you’re seeking natural alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions, chiropractic care offers promising results without side effects associated with many medications. Regular chiropractic adjustments aim to improve nerve function which naturally reduces inflammation in the body, which can have a positive affect on migraines (source: Dr. Marc McDade’s Family & Pediatric Chiropractor).

Treatment Options for Migraines

If you’re tired of the excruciating pain and discomfort that come with migraines, it’s time to explore your treatment options. Chiropractic care has been shown to be highly effective in dealing with chronic migraines.

Chiropractic Care: A Natural Approach

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, drug-free approach that focuses on improving nerve function and reducing inflammation in the body - two factors often linked to migraine headaches. Chiropractors employ gentle, spinal adjustments to reduce stress and tension in the spine.

Beyond Adjustments: Holistic Care for Migraine Relief

In addition to spinal adjustments, many chiropractors also offer lifestyle advice tailored towards preventing future migraines. This may include tips on stress management, diet modifications like avoiding certain migraine-triggering foods, maintaining regular sleep patterns, and incorporating physical activity into your routine.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Migraines:

  • Natural relief from pain without reliance on medication
  • Potential reduction or elimination of frequency and intensity of migraines
  • Improved overall wellness due to better alignment and nervous system function
  • Possible prevention against future episodes by addressing underlying causes

Key Takeaway: 

Chiropractic care is a natural and non-invasive approach that focuses on improving nerve function and reducing inflammation in the body. Chiropractors use spinal adjustment to reduce stress in the nervous system, allowing the brain to heal naturally. 

FAQs in Relation to How Long Do Migraines Last

How long do migraines last on average? Migraines typically last between 4 to 72 hours, but the duration can vary greatly among individuals.

What are natural remedies for migraines? Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques can help manage migraines.

Can chiropractic care help with migraines? Yes, chiropractic care can be an effective treatment for migraines.


On average, migraines can last anywhere from four to 72 hours, but don’t worry, there are ways to manage the pain. Stress levels, diet, and medication use can all impact the duration of a migraine, so it’s important to explore different treatment options. 

Remember, seeking medical advice is essential if symptoms persist or worsen over time. With proper care and management strategies, relief from migraine symptoms is possible, and you can improve your overall quality of life.

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