12 types of migraine to know

There are many different types of migraine, which usually include an intense, throbbing headache, typically felt on one side of the head.1 You may experience symptoms a few days before a migraine attack, such as changes in mood, appetite and energy levels.2 The symptoms you may experience can often depend on the type of migraine you have.

Let’s start with the three most common types of migraine.



Professor Sabina Brennan, a psychologist specializing in brain health from Trinity College Dublin, explains the different types of migraine, providing more detail on the symptoms of migraine with and without aura.


  1. Chronic migraine is migraine that you experience for 15 or more days in a month.6
  2. Retinal migraine (known also as ocular migraine) is a type of migraine attack where you lose vision or experience disturbances in one eye.7
  3. Abdominal migraine is migraine where pain is felt in the abdomen rather than as a headache and causes stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. This type of migraine is more common in children.8
  4. Menstrual migraine is linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle, and generally occurs within a couple of days either side of a period.9
  5. Migraine with brainstem aura (formerly known as basilar migraine) which can cause loss of balance, double vision, difficulty speaking, and fainting.10
  6. Hemiplegic migraine is a rare but severe form of migraine that causes temporary paralysis, usually to one side of your body. For some people, the aura symptoms can last as long as a few weeks.11
  1. Ophthalmoplegic migraine, is another rare type of migraine where there is a weakness in the muscles of the eye. It particularly affects young people. In addition to headache, people experience visual symptoms like dilation of the pupils, problems moving the eyes and drooping of the upper eyelids.12
  2. Vestibular migraine, also known as migraine associated vertigo, can cause destabilizing symptoms like dizziness and vertigo.13
  3. Status migrainosus is a type of migraine where headache symptoms last for three or more continuous days.14 With this form of migraine, there is also risk of dehydration and sleep loss as a result of prolonged pain and vomiting.4

Knowing what migraine type you might have, or at the very least, understanding the migraine symptoms you’re experiencing, can help you and your healthcare professional get an accurate diagnosis and a management plan for the best possible care.


With so many different migraine types, getting an accurate diagnosis by your doctor of what type of migraine you have is key to managing the condition. Monitoring your migraine with a migraine diary can help. It is important that your doctor understands exactly what you’re experiencing and how migraine truly impacts you.

Migraine Buddy can help you record your migraine symptoms and triggers. Bring what you’ve recorded to your doctor appointment so you can review it together and agree on the best migraine management plan for you.

If you are already aware you have migraine and you’re unhappy with your current migraine treatment, go speak to your doctor about options available to you. You may want to schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss your current management.

  1. NHS Choices. Migraine.
    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Migraine/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Last accessed: November 2018]
  2. NHS Choices. Migraine Symptoms. Available at:
    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Migraine/Pages/Symptoms.aspx [Last updated: November 2018]
  3. The Migraine Association of Ireland. Migraine Without Aura. Available at:
    http://www.migraine.ie/types-of-migraine/migraine-without-aura/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  4. The Migraine Trust. Symptoms and Stages. Available at:
    https://www.migrainetrust.org/about- migraine/migraine-what-is-it/symptoms-and-stages/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  5. The Migraine Association of Ireland. Migraine Aura Without Headache. Available at:
    http://www.migraine.ie/types-of-migraine/aura-without-headache/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  6. The Migraine Trust. Chronic Migraine
    https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/types-of- migraine/chronic-migraine/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  7. WebMD. Ocular Migraine Basics. Available at:
    https://www.webmd.boots.com/migraines- headaches/guide/ocular-migraine-basics [Last accessed: November 2018]
  1. WebMD. Abdominal Migraine. Available at:
    https://www.webmd.boots.com/migraines- headaches/guide/abdominal-migraines [Last accessed: November 2018]
  2. NHS. Migraine Prevention. Available at:
    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Migraine/Pages/Prevention.aspx [Last accessed: November 2018]
  3. The Migraine Association of Ireland. Basilar Migraine. Available at:
    http://www.migraine.ie/types-of-migraine/basilar-migraine/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  4. The Migraine Association of Ireland. Hemiplegic Migraine. Available at:
    http://www.migraine.ie/types-of-migraine/hemiplegic-migraine/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  5. The Migraine Association of Ireland. Ophthalmoplegic Migraine. Available at:
    http://www.migraine.ie/types-of-migraine/ophthalmoplegic-migraine/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  6. The Migraine Association of Ireland. Vestibular Migraine. Available at:
    http://www.migraine.ie/types-of-migraine/vestibular-migraine/ [Last accessed: November 2018]
  7. WebMD. Status Migrainosus. Available at:
    https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/status-migrainosus-symptoms-causes-treatment [Last accessed: November 2018]