Migraine without aura

The most common type of migraine

What is migraine without aura?

‘Aura’ is a warning sign of a migraine. It is most commonly a symptom that affects your sight, such as blind spots or seeing flashing lights. If you have migraine without aura, you won’t get a warning sign that a migraine attack is about to start.

Attacks of migraine without aura usually last between four hours and three days, if they are not treated or if the treatment is not effective. The frequency of these attacks varies. They could happen every few years or several times a week. Migraine without aura used to be called ‘common migraine’ or ‘hemicrania simplex’.

Symptoms

  • A headache that is usually on one side of your head. This is often a throbbing pain. It will worsen when you move, such as if you walk or climb the stairs. It is so severe that it means you can’t do your normal daily activities.
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting).
  • Being sensitive to light (photophobia) and/or sound (phonophobia)

Treatment options for migraine without aura

Your treatment options depend on how often you have attacks and how severe they are. It will also depend on other factors such as other illnesses you may have or medication that you take.

Generally, treatment for migraine includes:

  • Acute treatment such as over the counter painkillers, migraine specific treatments (triptans) and anti-sickness medication. These treatments aim to help manage the symptoms when an attack comes on. You do need to be careful not to take certain acute treatments too many days a month as this can cause medication overuse headache. For example, triptans shouldn’t be taken on more than 8-10 days per month.
  • Preventive treatment such as beta-blockers, tricyclic antidepressants or anti-epilepsy drugs. These treatments aim to reduce how often you have migraine attacks and how bad they are. You take them everyday and build them up to an effective dose. Some people need to try a range of treatments, or may be referred to a headache specialist if the treatments don’t work for them.

Lifestyle changes

Alongside the treatments many people benefit from reviewing whether lifestyle changes can help with their migraine attacks. This can include things like sticking to a routine, waking up at the same time each day, practising good sleep hygiene, eating regularly and at similar times each day, not getting hungry and staying hydrated. Taking gentle exercise, such as walking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help. If there are factors such as alcohol or lack of sleep that seem to trigger your migraine attacks, there might be changes that you can make to help reduce how often you have attacks.