Glossary of Migraine Terms

Learning to Speak Migraine

Abdominal Migraine

Abdominal migraine is a form of migraine that occurs mostly in children aged 3-10. To receive a diagnosis a person must have had at least 5 recurrent episodes of moderate to severe pain in the abdomen usually around the midsection or belly button. The person must also have at least two of the following: nausea, vomiting, paleness, or loss of appetite. A headache may or may not be present. An aura may occur before the abdominal symptoms. Each attack generally lasts from 1 hour to 3 days. A person with abdominal migraine may have complete freedom of symptoms between attacks, meaning that these symptoms do not linger.

Alice-in-Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a rare but real medical term. It is a neurological condition that affects human self-perception. Sufferers experience short episodes where they feel larger or smaller than the surrounding environment. Some of these odd changes in perception can affect only a portion of the body, such as the feeling that a leg or an arm is over- and under-sized. (from the mad hatter event pdf “Why is it called the “Alice in Wonderland” Croquet Tournament?”)


Allodynia occurs when someone experiences pain from something not normally painful. Some examples of allodynia are pain from touching cold water, brushing hair or moving the bed sheets across the skin.


A medication used for reducing symptoms of nausea and vomiting


The inability to understand or express speech, temporarily or long term



Difficulty speaking sometimes without another explanation


A persistent sense of imbalance or incoordination of body movements

Autonomic Nasal Dysfunction

Unexplained nasal congestion and/or runny nose with no diagnosable cause such as a cold virus, sinus infection or allergy

Brain Fog

A term commonly used to describe lack of focus, confusion or forgetfulness.


A class of compounds found in cannabis (marijuana) that have several potentially helpful effects including anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anticonvulsant

Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Central Auditory Processing Disorder occurs when the brain has trouble interpreting sounds. For an unknown reason, the ears and brain don't fully communicate. A person may mishear similar sounds and words and may be unable to determine similar sounds in a noisy environment or block out background noise.⁠


The part of the nervous system that are made up of the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is thought to have about 100 billion neurons.


A migraine diagnosis where the person has at least 15 headache days a month, with at least 8 of the headache days having migraine features, for more than 3 months.


We often think of a sinus infection as a bacterial or viral infection within one or more of the 8 groups of paranasal sinuses of the face will cause facial pain or pressure, often combined with a stuffy nose or abnormal discharge.  Colds, allergies or nasal polyps often cause mucosal swelling, leading to blocked sinus openings and subsequent create an environment favorable for infection. If this infection or swelling does not resolve within 3 months, the condition becomes chronic.

But for a large portion of people who think that they have chronic sinusitis, the irritable nerves of migraine can duplicate all of these symptoms.


When a fussy baby cries or fusses without cause for more than 3 hours a day, 3 or more days a week, over at least 3 weeks

Coughing, Sneezing and Migraine

Coughing and/or sneezing as a precursor to headache and migraine, and as a symptom.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is a disorder where a person experiences recurrent attacks of nausea and vomiting that may last hours to days with an unknown etiology. The attacks usually last for the same length of time and occur at the same time of day; most often late night to early morning.


A migraine diagnosis where the person has 0 to 14 headache days per month.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, primarily affecting muscles, bones and joints. Individuals experience a hypersensitivity to both painful and non-painful stimuli.


Gastroparesis is defined as delayed emptying of solids and liquids from the stomach into the small intestine without evidence of a blockage. However, some patients have the symptoms of gastroparesis without delayed gastric emptying. 

Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic urological condition that causes pain and pressure in the bladder in the absence of a urinary tract infection. There are two subtypes of interstitial cystitis: nonulcerative and ulcerative and symptoms range from mild to severe. Most people will experience frequent urination, dyspareunia, a constant urge to urinate and pelvic pain.

Irritable bowel syndrome

A functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder causing abdominal pain and bloating and changes to bowel movements (including constipation, diarrhea or a combination of the two). It is a common comorbidity of migraine disease.

Mal de Debarquement

Mal de Débarquement syndrome is a condition that causes someone to feel like they are still moving after being on a boat, plane, car or train, etc. The feeling usually resolves within 24 hours but is classified as persistent when it lasts greater than one month.


Medication Adaptation Headache, also known as medication-overuse headache or rebound headache, is a secondary headache disorder that occurs from frequent use of certain medications to treat headache or migraine attacks or other pain conditions.

Neurogenic Cough

An unexplained dry persistent cough, possibly caused by sensory nerve damage that lasts more than 8 weeks

Neurogenic Bladder

Lack of bladder control due to an injury or problems with the central nervous system

Oromandibular Dystonia

Uncontrollable, strong contractions of the face, jaw, and/or tongue causing difficulty in opening and closing the mouth and often affecting chewing and speech


Sensitivity to smells


Ear ache.


There are two main parts of the nervous system. The central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS includes brain and spinal cord while the PNS includes the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord.


Olfactory hallucination, or detecting a smell that is not there, usually unpleasant, such as cigarette smoke, something burning, garbage


Sound sensitivity


Being on the job but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Recurring, irresistible urges to move one’s legs because of uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations, most often occurring in the evening or nighttime when sitting or lying. The syndrome can cause sleep problems and can worsen with age.


Inflammation of the tissue that lines the sinuses

Status Migrainosus

Status migrainosus is a migraine attack that lasts longer than 72 hours with debilitating pain and/or associated symptoms.

Temporomandibular Pain

Pain and/or dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which is where the jaw bone connects to the skull. The pain can be felt in the face, jaw joint, ear, neck and shoulders.


A perception of ringing or other noise that is not actually there that can be associated with hearing loss, head injuries or many other issues including migraine disease.


A problem with the muscles in the neck that causes the head to twist to one side.

Trigeminal Nerve

Largest of the 12 cranial nerves. It sends sensations from the face to the brain. Involved with the pathophysiology of migraine.


A sensation of movement, spinning or feeling off balance.


Vulvodynia is a condition where chronic pain occurs in the vulva, located on the external female genitalia, for greater than three months. The pain occurs without a known cause and is often described as a burning or itching sensation.


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