Migraine Hangover (aka Postdrome)

The migraines that have been visiting the last couple weeks finally gave way to a 40-hour affair that’s tapering off. I’m now in what’s considered migraine hangover (or postdrome). I was reassured when I first learned that this is a normal event at the end of a migraine:

“The postdrome is a constellation of symptoms that persist beyond the resolution of headache. Many of these symptoms appear initially during the prodrome or with the headache phase. Commonly, patients report anorexia [loss of appetite], nausea, muscle tension, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. This phase has been termed the migraine hangover and can last and produce disability up to 1 to 2 days beyond the headache phase. The pathophysiology of the postdrome is unknown, but likely represents a gradual recovery phase from the extreme neurologic disruption that occurs during migraine.” — Clinical and Pathophysiological Anatomy of a Migraine Attack, Medscape

I particularly like the phrase “extreme neurologic disruption.”

The clinical explanation is helpful, but I’ve been trying to describe what it actually feels like to have a migraine hangover. Here’s my attempt to put it into words:

I’m still shrouded by a bad headache. The pounding doesn’t seem to cover as much of my head as it did, but it hasn’t changed location at all. In a sense its like an echo of what it was, but it feels different while feeling the same.

Instead of having trouble thinking, finding words or making decisions, like I do in the rest of a migraine, I’m lightheaded. Not in an unsteady on my feet kind of way, but that my thoughts are so airy and inconsequential they could just float away.

It’s a weak description, but I have no idea how to truly explain how I feel. Can you help me out? How do you feel when you have a migraine hangover?

To read the Medscape article, use one of the user names and passwords from BugMeNot. The World Headache Alliance summarizes a study that found that the “majority of migraineurs experience disabling post-migraine symptoms.”