Migraine is a neurological condition that is often characterized by a mild or severe headache.
Besides a headache, typical migraine symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity.
Some people can also experience visual or sensory disturbances during a migraine attack or before one starts. This is called an aura.
What is a migraine aura?
An aura is a collection of symptoms that occur before or along with a migraine attack. Auras can cause disturbances in your vision, sensation, or speech.
Because an aura can begin before a migraine attack starts, it can often be a warning sign that one is coming.
An aura typically begins about an hour before migraine pain starts and lasts less than 60 minutes. Not all migraine attacks involve an aura.
What are the typical symptoms?
Let’s find out what the symptoms are.
An aura can cause a variety of symptoms.
Visual auras are the most common type of aura. Some symptoms you may experience during a visual aura include:
- seeing jagged flashes of light, stars, or bright spots
- having zigzagging lines or geometric shapes in your field of vision
- partial vision loss or blind spots (scotomas)
Aura can also lead to changes in sensation. These symptoms can occur with or without a visual aura. The main symptoms of a sensory aura are feelings of numbness or tingling, or a “pins and needles” sensation. This tingling sensation may begin in one arm and travel upward. This feeling can also occur on one side of your face, lips, or tongue.
Speech and language symptoms
Speech and language disturbances are less common Aura symptoms. And such symptoms may be present
- Obscure story
- Inability to spell words correctly (stuttering)
What causes or triggers a migraine?
It’s not well understood what exactly causes an aura. It’s believed to be caused by a wave of electrical activity that spreads across the cortex of the brain.
This wave is then followed by a prolonged suppression of nerve cell activity. This can lead to various changes, such as changes in blood flow, which may lead to migraine symptoms.
It’s also possible that an aura may be triggered by the same things that can trigger migraine attacks without aura. These can include:
- Stress or anxiety
- Not getting enough sleep.
- Failure to eat or eating irregularly
- Alcohol or caffeine consumption
- Some foods, such as chocolate, some cheese, and pre-cooked meats
- Food additives such as MSG or aspartame
- Hormonal changes such as menstruation
- Bright lights, strong smells or loud noises
- Intense exercise
- Climate change
- Some drugs
Can you get an eclipse without a headache?
An aura can occur without a migraine headache. This is called silent migraine. Although the migraine pain doesn’t occur, the aura symptoms themselves can still be disruptive to daily activities.
Ocular migraine, a type of migraine attack characterized by visual symptoms, can sometimes occur without pain. Migraine with aura and retinal migraine is sometimes considered types of ocular migraine.
Migraine attacks that occur without pain may sometimes be diagnosed as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or seizures due to the symptoms being so similar.
Are there different types of migraine attacks?
Several other types of migraine involve neurological symptoms besides pain,
- Migraine with the sun in the brain stem. It is a rare type of migraine that causes symptoms in the brain stem. Symptoms may include dizziness, ringing in the ears, and speech problems.
- Hemiplegic migraine. A migraine occurs with an aura that includes one-sided weakness as well as numbness and tingling. It can occur with or without migraine pain.
- Vestibular migraine. A condition that includes sudden onset of vertigo, disorientation, and balance issues. Many people who experience vestibular migraine have no history of headaches.
- Retinal migraine. A type of migraine in which the aura causes you to lose vision in one eye.
You may also be diagnosed with chronic migraine if you experience migraine symptoms that occur 15 or more days in a month.
What is the best way to treat a migraine with aura?
When aura symptoms begin, it can be helpful to move into a quiet, dark room and close your eyes.
Placing a cold compress on your forehead or the back of your neck may also help ease ensuing migraine pain.
Like other types of migraine, treating migraine with aura involves a combination of medications. These include medications for both prevention and relief of symptoms.
- antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
- blood pressure medications, like beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers
- anti-seizure drugs, such as topiramate
Medications for symptom relief can help reduce the severity of a future migraine attack. They are usually taken as soon as the symptoms of an arrhythmia develop.
Examples of some of these medications are
- over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- triptans, such as rizatriptan and sumatriptan
- anti-nausea medications
Other alternative treatment methods for migraine are also being explored. These include bio-nutrition, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques.
When are you going to see a doctor?
If you haven’t had a migraine with aura before and suddenly experience tingling or numbness on one side of your body, slurred speech, or difficulty talking, it’s important to get care right away.
Although these can be symptoms of a migraine aura, they can also be signs of a stroke. You’ll want to rule out the possibility of having a much more serious condition.
In addition, seek emergency treatment for any headache:
- Comes suddenly and intensely
- With a sore throat, fever, or rash
- Occurs with symptoms such as confusion, seizures or loss of consciousness
- Occurs after a head injury
Migraine blockade is characterized by disturbances in your vision, sensation, or speech. It can occur before or during a migraine attack and usually lasts less than 60 minutes.
Some people may have migraines without a headache.
Migraine with Aura can be treated with a combination of drugs. Preventive medications can stop the onset of migraine symptoms, while other medications can help relieve severe symptoms.
Symptoms of Aura can be similar to more serious conditions such as stroke or seizures. If you have never experienced a migraine with a migraine and have numbness in one side of your body or a speech impediment, seek immediate medical attention.
It is also important to seek immediate medical attention if you have a severe headache, sudden onset, severe neck, fever, confusion, or upset.