Abortive or acute medications – medicine which is taken at the time of initial symptom onset. The aim of this treatment is to stop the progression of the migraine attack.

Acute – sudden, abrupt onset

Analgesic – pain relief medicine

Ataxia – difficulty with muscle co-ordination during voluntary movement.This can affect things like walking, speech and swallowing for example.

Aura – an aura may precede headache in approximately 20% of people with migraine. An aura is a neurological disturbance, often sensory. There may be changes in vision, speech may be affected, or a feeling of pins and needles, numbness, or weakness. some people experience vertigo. These aura symptoms usually develop over 5 – 20 mins and last for less than an hour.


Brainstem migraine – also called migraine with brainstem aura, previously known as basilar or basilar type migraine. This rare migraine with aura has a range of symptoms which may include: blurred vision, decreased consciousness, ataxia, slurring of speech, sensory changes on both (bilateral) sides of the body and vertigo.


Chronic migraine – is defined as being when a person has headache at least 15 days per month with 8 of those migraine days, over a period of 3 months.

Complimentary treatments – treatments used alongside standard medical treatment e.g. acupuncture, vitamins and relaxation techniques

Comorbid – co-existing. When a patient has more than one condition at the same time.

Cortical spreading depression – this is a pathophysiological event that has been thought to be present in several transient neurological disorders, including migraine and its variants. It is a slowly propagating wave of changes in brain electrical activity. Sometimes called spreading depolarization. It has been thought that an initial increase, then sustained decrease in electrocortical activity and associated initial vasodilation and then prolonged vasoconstriction may be part of migraine .Recently some authors are questioning the role of CSD in migraine.


Diagnosis of exclusion – when there is no specific test for a condition, so other possibilities are rules out.

Differential diagnosis – sometimes several conditions share common signs and symptoms. This is the process of distinguishing between these conditions to make a correct diagnosis.

Diplopia – double vision. When a person sees a double image where there should only be one. The two images can be side by side, on top of one another, or both.


Episodic migraine – those with migraine who have 14 or less headache days per month


Hemipariesis – weakness on one side of the body

Hemiplegia – paralysis on one side of the body

Hemiplegic Migraine – a rare migraine variant with aura. It causes temporary weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Speaking and swallowing may also be affected.

Hyperosmia – an over-sensitivity to odours


Medication Overuse Headache – an alternative term could be Medication Adaptation Headache or Medication Response Headache. Previously called rebound headache. A headache caused by a cycle of pain and overuse of pain relief medications or triptans.

Migraine Variant – migraines that do not manifest only in headache form, but another form such as with prolonged atypical auras, loss of speech, confusion and neurological deficits. They can be with or without headache. Examples include hemiplegic migraine, retinal migraine and brainstem migraine.

Migraine with aura – (classic migraine) sensory disturbances occur before a headache begins

Migraine without aura – (common migraine) there is no aura present before a migraine headache attack occurs

MRI – magnetic resonance imaging


Opiods – a class of pain relieving drugs resembling opium. Drugs in this class include codeine, oxycodone and morphine.


Photopsia – is a distortion or change in the visual field. A migraine aura may be one cause.

Postdrome – symptoms which continue after the headache dissipates. They may be anywhere in the body and last over several days. Examples include sensitivity to touch, aches and stiffness, fatigue and mental fogginess.

Prodome – is a medical term for early signs or symptoms. In migraine it marks the beginning of an attack before the onset of headache. This phase may last hours or days and people may learn to sense these early feelings, avoid any known triggers, take any recommended medication and relax. Symptoms may vary for each person, and may change over time for each person. They may include things like difficulty concentrating at the usual level, feeling of low mood, being irritable, sensitivity to lights and sound, or fatigue.

Prophylactic – a medicine that is used daily as a preventative of migraine attacks.


Refractory migraine – there is no set definition of this chronic migraine. It causes significant impairment to quality of life. The migraine attack continues despite trials of several acute and preventative medicines across multiple classes of drugs.


Scintillating scotoma – a common visual aura with temporary partial loss of vision.

Status Migrainosus – also known as intractable migraine, this is a persistent, intense migraine attack lasting over 72 hours.


Triggers – some people can notice things which may initiate a migraine attack. Example may include lights, dehydration, alcohol, changes to sleep patterns, particular foods and vigorous exercise.