There are four primary criteria for diagnosis migraine in addition to having a headache longer than four hours:
- Is the headache unilateral (pain is located specifically in one side or the other)?
- Is the headache pain a throbbing/pulsating type of pain (like a heart beat)?
- Is the headache pain moderate to severe on the pain scale?
- Are headache symptoms worsened by activity, or so bad that they require avoidance of all activity?
- Is the headache accompanied by moderate to severe nausea (with or without vomiting)?
- Is the headache accompanied by a sensitivity to light and/or sound?
If the patient experiences at least two of the primary criteria and at least one of the secondary criteria, and no other cause has been found nor are the symptoms more consistent with another primary headache disorder classified by the International Classification of Headache Disorders 3-beta, the patient may be diagnosed with migraine.
If the patient has had at least 5 attacks (migraine without aura) or at least 2 attacks (migraine with aura), no red flags are found in the history or exam, and the patient meets at least 3 of 6 criteria for migraine, then no labs, scans or other tests are required.
Migraine attacks typically last 4-72 hours if left untreated or unsuccessfully treated. That means that if the headaches only last 3 hours without treatment, resolving spontaneously, they cannot be diagnosed as migraine headaches.
Chronic Migraine: Have you been correctly diagnosed?
What is Migraine?
Migraine Types: Episodic Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine
Migraine Types: Migraine without Aura
Migraine Types: Migraine with Typical Aura
Common Migraine Symptoms and Causes
How is Migraine Diagnosed?
How is Migraine Treated?
Migraine and Disability