Migraine Aura Symptoms

By S.F. Heron

  • Overview

    Migraine headaches fall into a category of headaches that are characterized by frequent occurrence as well as severe pain. These headaches often feature pain that occurs on just one side of the head as well as symptoms called auras. Auras are visual distortions or sensory- or speech-related changes associated with the onset of a migraine headache. Auras affect roughly 15 to 20 percent of migraine sufferers, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Significance

    Migraine aura symptoms signal the occurrence of an oncoming headache. Auras usually precede the migraine headache although these visual symptoms can occur during and after the headache, too. Auras aren't painful and are sometimes mistaken for tired eyes or blurry vision.
  • Features

    Migraine aura symptoms tend to be unique to the individual and very difficult to describe. Some people describe auras as flickering lights or wavy lines obstructing the field of vision. Others only see a slight distortion that moves from the center to the edges of the peripheral vision. Migraine sufferers often complain of blind or black spots in the field of vision called scotomas. These spots take on a curved pattern than can expand and contract as the aura progresses. Sensory aura symptoms can start as a tingling or numb feeling in the limbs that can spread to the face. Dysphasic auras affect the language centers of the brain with temporary loss of speech. Visual auras are more common than sensory or dysphasic auras.


  • Time Frame

    Migraine auras usually last for 5 to 30 minutes in the hour preceding the onset of a migraine headache. Sufferers tend to be headache free during this period of time. Auras are the signal that the headache is coming and occur during what is called the prodromal (preceding) phase of a migraine headache.
  • Effects

    Migraine aura symptoms are frequently paired with more common migraine symptoms. Light sensitivity, dizziness and a general sick feeling can combine with the typical vision distortion signs. More typical migraine symptoms such as nausea, lack of appetite and vomiting can also occur in conjunction with an aura. Migraine sufferers won't get an aura every single time as a warning that a headache is coming. Each migraine tends to be different just as each aura can differ greatly from headache episodes. Very few patients have just the aura symptoms without the full-scale headache.
  • Prevention/Solution

    Migraine auras aren't preventable yet physicians teach patients to become aware of aura symptoms. While there is no direct cure for migraine auras, there are ways to reduce the occurrence of migraine headaches. Doctors recommended that patients keep detailed food diaries to look for possible allergies as well as additives in foods. Caffeine and alcohol can trigger migraines in some individuals. Skipping meals, lack of sleep, menstrual cycles and stress all can contribute to onset of a migraine headache.
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