What Does a Migraine Look Like?

By Pat Anson, Editor

Sometimes there’s an aura. Or bright lights. Or blurred vision.

About a billion people worldwide suffer from headaches caused by migraines, which affect three times as many women as men. Most non-sufferers understand the headache part, but explaining what a migraine looks like isn’t easy – which is why the makers of Excedrin invented a simulator to help people better understand  migraines and the impact they can have.

"Migraines are more than bad headaches – the pulsing pain can be debilitating, and the associated symptoms like nausea and extreme sensitivity to light and sound, really impact people's lives," said Dr. Elizabeth Seng, a New York based psychologist.

GSK Consumer Healthcare brought together several migraine sufferers and had them explain the symptoms they most often experience during a migraine episode, including aura, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. The symptoms were then replicated with the simulator and conducted in a controlled environment from everyday life – like riding the subway or going to a restaurant -- to give non-sufferers the chance to safely experience the full range of migraine symptoms

Many found the experience unsettling and nauseating, as you’ll see in this short video that Excedrin recently began airing on TV and over the Internet:

Excedrin partnered with Andy Cohen, a best-selling author, TV personality, producer and migraine sufferer, to help spread awareness about the impact migraines can have on relationships with friends, spouses and co-workers. He hopes the simulator will help non-sufferers better understand the migraine experience.

"Growing up with migraines, I experienced firsthand how debilitating an episode can be and how much it can affect relationships with loved ones," said Cohen. "In my experience, both personal and professional, I've seen how migraines can become a third party in relationships – creating tension in, sometimes, already murky waters."

Migraine affects about 36 million adults in the United States, according to the American Migraine Foundation. In addition to headache pain and nausea, migraine can cause vomiting, blurriness or visual disturbances, and sensitivity to light and sound. About half of people living with migraine are undiagnosed.