How to Identify a Migraine Aura

Migraine is a neurological illness marked by a moderate to severe headache. About 29.5 million Americans, according to reliable sources, suffer from migraines. Typical migraine symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity, in addition to a headache. During or before a migraine episode, some persons may have visual or sensory abnormalities. This is referred to as an aura.

What is the meaning of a migraine aura?

A migraine aura is a group of symptoms that appear before or during a migraine episode. Auras may create problems with vision, feeling, and speech. According to the American Migraine Foundation, between 25 and 30 percent of migraine sufferers have aura.

Because an aura may occur prior to the onset of a migraine episode, it is often used as a warning indication. Auras usually start around an hour before the discomfort of a migraine and linger for less than 60 minutes. An aura isn’t present in every migraine episode.


While an aura occurs just before or during a migraine episode, the prodrome stage might begin days before an attack to signal that one is approaching. Fatigue, irritation, and neck ache are examples of prodrome symptoms.

What are the most common signs and symptoms?

Auras may manifest themselves in a number of ways.

Visual symptoms

The most frequent sort of aura is a visual aura. During a visual aura, you may feel the following symptoms:

  • seeing bright dots, stars, or jagged flashes of light
  • in your area of view zigzagging lines or geometric forms
  • Blind areas or partial vision loss (scotomas)

Sensory symptoms

Changes in feeling may also be caused by aura. These symptoms may manifest themselves with or without the presence of a visual aura.

A sensory aura is characterized by sensations of numbness or tingling, as well as a “pins and needles” sensation. The tingling feeling might start in one arm and spread upward. This sensation may also be felt on one side of your face, on your lips, or on your tongue.

Symptoms of speech and language

Speech and linguistic disturbances are less frequent aura symptoms. Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • speech that is slurred
  • mumbling
  • not being able to come up with the appropriate wording

What causes a migraine aura?

What produces an aura isn’t completely known. A wave of electrical activity that extends throughout the cortex of the brain is thought to be the reason. This is followed by a protracted period of nerve cell activity inhibition. This may cause a variety of alterations, including changes in blood flow, which can cause migraine symptoms.

It’s also conceivable that the same substances that cause migraine episodes without aura might cause an aura. These may include the following:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • sleeping insufficiently
  • missing or eating seldom
  • Caffeine or alcohol consumption
  • chocolate, aged cheeses, and preserved meats, to name a few
  • MSG and aspartame are examples of food additives.
  • Changes in hormones, such as those that occur during menstruation
  • bright lights, strong odors, or loud sounds are all things to avoid.
  • a rigorous workout
  • variations in the weather
  • certain prescription drugs

Is it possible to have an aura without getting a headache?

It’s possible to have an aura without having a migraine headache. This is referred to as a quiet migraine. Even if the migraine headache does not develop, the aura symptoms might still cause problems in everyday life.

Ocular migraine, a form of migraine episode marked by visual symptoms, may occur without pain at times. Migraine with aura and retinal migraine are two kinds of ocular migraine that are commonly confused. Because the symptoms are so similar, migraine episodes that don’t cause pain might be mistaken for transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or seizures.

Is it true that there are several types of migraine attacks?

There are various forms of migraine that include neurological symptoms in addition to pain, including:

Migraine with aura in the brain stem. A migraine in which the symptoms of the aura originate in the brain stem. Vertigo, ringing in the ears, and speech difficulties are some of the symptoms.

Migraine with hemiplegia. A migraine that is accompanied by an aura of one-sided weakness, numbness, and tingling. It may happen with or without discomfort from a migraine.

Migraine of the vestibular system. A condition characterized by abrupt onset of vertigo, confusion, and problems with balance. Many individuals who suffer from vestibular migraine have never had a headache before.

Migraine in the retina. The aura of this form of migraine leads you to lose vision in one eye.

If you have migraine symptoms for 15 days or more in a month, you may be diagnosed with chronic migraine.

What’s the best strategy to deal with a migraine that’s accompanied by an aura?

When aura symptoms appear, it’s a good idea to go into a dark, quiet area and shut your eyes. Using a cold compress on the back of your neck or on your forehead may also help relieve migraine discomfort. A migraine with aura, like other forms of migraine, is treated with a mix of medicines. Medications for both symptom prevention and treatment are included.

Preventive drugs that may help prevent migraine episodes include:

  • Amitriptyline, for example, is an antidepressant
  • Beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers are examples of blood pressure drugs.
  • Topiramate and other anti-seizure medications

Medications for symptom relief might assist to lessen the intensity of a migraine episode that is about to happen. They’re usually taken as soon as an aura’s symptoms appear.

The following are some examples of these medications:

  • acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) are two over-the-counter pain medications (Motrin, Advil)
  • rizatriptan and sumatriptan are examples of triptans.
  • dihydroergotamine
  • antacids (anti-nausea drugs)

Other migraine treatment options are being studied as well. Biofeedback, acupuncture, and relaxation methods are examples of these.

When should you visit a doctor?

If you’ve never had a migraine with aura before and are experiencing tingling or numbness on one side of your body, slurred speech, or trouble speaking, get medical attention immediately away. These symptoms may be evidence of a migraine aura, but they might also be signals of a stroke. You’ll want to be sure you don’t have something more serious going on.

Additionally, seek immediate medical attention if you have a headache that:

  • comes on suddenly and severely
  • is accompanied by a stiff neck, fever, or rash
  • occurs with symptoms like confusion, convulsions, or loss of consciousness
  • happens after a head injury

It’s also a good idea to see your doctor if you’re experiencing headaches that:

  • occur regularly and may last anywhere from hours to days
  • disrupting your everyday routine
  • occur on a regular basis when you were previously headache-free

If you have a migraine and don’t have a primary care physician, you may use the Healthline FindCare service to look for providers in your region.

Resources for Migraine

Migraine may be bothersome and, in certain situations, have a negative impact on one’s everyday life. Knowing that you’re not alone and that many other individuals are experiencing the same symptoms as you might be comforting.

There are a number of applications you may download if you’re looking for migraine assistance and information, including:

Migraine Healthline is a website that provides information about migraines. Get the latest migraine news and health tips, and interact with others in real-time group chats or one-on-one discussions.

Migraine Buddy is an app that helps people with migraines. Keep track of the details of your migraine episodes and share them with the Migraine Buddy community.

Migraine Detector Keep track of your migraine symptoms while chatting with physicians and other migraine sufferers.

Insight into Migraine. Fill out a migraine log and get a score and analysis for each probable migraine cause.

In Conclusion

The aura of a migraine is characterized by changes in vision, feeling, or speech. It usually lasts less than 60 minutes and may happen before or during a migraine episode. Auras may occur in persons who do not have a migraine headache. A mixture of drugs may be used to treat migraines with aura. Preventive drugs may help prevent migraine symptoms, while other medications might assist relieve acute symptoms if they arise.

Aura symptoms might resemble those of more severe diseases such as a stroke or a seizure. If you’ve never had a migraine with aura before and are experiencing numbness on one side of your body or difficulty speaking, visit a doctor right once. If you experience a severe headache that comes on abruptly, is accompanied by a stiff neck, fever, disorientation, or convulsions, get immediate medical attention.

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