There are many different symptoms which can be part of a migraine attack. Nausea and an aversion to bright lights are two, but for some migraine sufferers chills can be another – and one which can happen days before the main headache phase of a migraine attack takes place.
Why is this?
Essentially it is down to the fact that when a migraine attack is experienced, the brain undergoes both structural and functional changes. One of the areas of the brain which experiences neurological changes during a migraine attack is the hypothalamus, and it’s this part of the brain that controls our body temperature.
If the hypothalamus is affected by unusual activity, it’s not surprising that that is experienced in some perceptible way in our bodies.
Another part of the brain which is affected during a migraine attack is the brain’s cortex. The cerebral cortex part of our brain is involved in muscle movement, and chills are the result of involuntary muscle tightening and relaxing.
These two areas of the brain both being subject to neurological changes during a migraine attack, and in the prodrome phase before an attack, is why chills can be a symptom of a migraine – as can sweating and shivering.
Linked to these temperature migraine symptoms are the findings of one 2020 study, which found that women who experience chronic migraines were more likely to report having cold hands or feet – it is thought this is a result of blood vessel changes which occur with migraine.
So, although not the most common migraine symptom, experiencing chills is certainly one symptom to watch out for as a sign of an oncoming migraine attack.