Migraine symptoms: results of a survey of self-reported migraineurs

Headache. 1995 Jul-Aug;35(7):387-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.1995.hed3507387.x.


Migraine is an episodic headache disorder associated with various combinations of neurologic, gastrointestinal, and autonomic symptoms. Gastrointestinal disturbances including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea are almost universal. Sensory hyperexcitability manifested by photophobia, phonophobia, and osmophobia are frequently experienced. Other symptoms include blurry vision, nasal stuffiness, tenesmus, polyuria, pallor, and sweating. Our telephone interview survey of 500 self-reported migraine sufferers was performed in 1994. The most common reported symptoms associated with migraine were pain, nausea, problems with vision, and vomiting. Nausea occurred in more than 90% of all migraineurs; nearly one third of these experienced nausea during every attack. Vomiting occurred in almost 70% of all migraineurs; nearly one third of these vomited in the majority of attacks. In those who experienced nausea, 30.5% indicated that it interfered with their ability to take their oral migraine medication; in those with vomiting, 42.2% indicated that it interfered with their ability to take their oral migraine medication. The most important features of a migraine medication were rapid and effective relief of headache pain, decreasing the likelihood of headache recurrence, and not causing nausea. Many migraine patients suffer needlessly because their nausea and vomiting are both unreported to, and unrecognized by physicians. The presence of these symptoms is crucial to diagnose migraine not accompanied by aura.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology
  • Nausea / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vomiting / etiology