As many as one-third of migraine sufferers experience forewarning symptoms before an attack, which experts say might create an opportunity for intervention and prevention, says a new study.
"Migraine is for many people a lightning storm that starts hours or day similar to gathering clouds before the storm, followed by the thunderous pain of the migraine headache," said migraine scientist Purdy.
Symptoms are often easily recognized by patients and can include mood changes - a sense of sadness or euphoria - fatigue, problems with concentration, yawning and pallor, increasing sensitivity to light and sound and a general feeling that the attack is about to begin, he said.
" In some ways, it's very much like the PMS that many women report before their menstrual period," said Purdy
Treatment during this phase of an attack, especially with triptans, has been shown to be effective with some patients.
"We found that headache prevention is possible when a triptan is administered during the premonitory period. And those that did occur appeared to be milder," said scientist Werner J. Becker.
Triptans are a class of drugs that constrict blood vessels in the brain and relieve swelling that is associated with migraine pain.
The scientists discussed the findings at the annual scientific conference of the American Headache Society this week.