Migraine Tingling Symptoms

By Wildwater Wolf

  • Overview

    Migraine Tingling Symptoms
    Migraines are not all the same. Most people have what are called "common migraines," during which there is no "aura." Other people have "classic migraines" which involve aura symptoms that generally appear before the actual headache begins. Aura is not only visual. People may experience numbness and tingling in various parts of the body.
  • Types

    There are four distinct types of migraine aura, and each has its own specialized symptoms. Visual aura causes disturbances in vision; sensory aura influences sensations; motor aura may sap strength; and dysphasic aura affects speech. Which symptoms you are afflicted with during any given migraine depends on which part of the surface of the brain is affected. An aura lasts about 15 to 30 minutes and acts as a warning when it precedes a headache. The aura may come after or simultaneously with the headache, and for some people, no head pain ever materializes. Auras may not subside after your headache starts and sometimes they show up after you already have the headache. The most common symptoms experienced in the midst of the aura phase are visual. For example, flashes of light or sparkling zigzags, wavy lines or what looks like slowly spreading blind spots. Part of your field of vision, particularly side vision, may disappear temporarily, which can be very disconcerting, especially the first time it happens.
  • Causes

    Constriction of arteries that supply areas of the brain was once thought to cause aura, but now researchers believe that the aura comes about in response to temporary changes in the activity of certain nerve cells. When brain cells cause nerves to release chemicals, resulting in the swelling of blood vessels on the brain's surface, pain develops, causing the blood vessels to send pain signals to the brain stem. Feeling pain around the eyes or temple region is common, but discomfort can also be felt in the face, sinuses, scalp, jaw or neck. When suffering a migraine you may find that you are hypersensitive when anything touches your head, and brushing or combing your hair can be very painful.


  • Nerves

    Some people feel tingling, pins-and-needles sensations or numbness in one or both arms or legs or on the face or lips. They may also feel a prickly or burning sensation. Sometimes, when children suffer from migraines, these unpleasant tingling sensations may be the only symptom they are aware of, and this makes diagnosing childhood migraines very difficult. Another symptom, migraine-related hyper-sensitivity, causes neck pain, achiness, muscle cramping, aversion to certain smells, and resistance to being touched. All of these nerve sensations, including tingling, burning, prickling or pins-and-needles feelings, are classified as "paresthesias." During migraines, you may also experience dizziness, drowsiness, and disorientation, and some people have slurred speech and confused thinking.
  • Triggers

    Triggers for migraines include: stress and depression; changing your sleep pattern; missing or postponing meals; eating certain foods; bright lights, even sunlight; excessive television or movie watching; loud or constant noise; odors; and certain medications, including any daily headache medicines. These triggers create abnormal brain activity and lead to migraines. Scientists believe affected nerve pathways alter blood flow and cause a chemical imbalance in the brain.
  • Aging

    Migraines with aura, especially symptoms involving sensory aura, increase among older sufferers, Sensory symptoms such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, and clumsiness often occur, but the most common sensory experiences include numbness and tingling. These sensations may begin in the face, including the lips and tongue, or in one hand or foot. During the first few minutes, the tingling spreads up or down one side of the body until most of that side is affected. The first time this happens, it can be very alarming, and people have been known to report to doctors that they were afraid they were having a stroke. One physician who writes about migraines asserts that if a patient complains about what are classified as "spreading sensory disturbances," these particular symptoms are "so characteristic" that a doctor should be able to immediately diagnose migraine.
  • Women

    It is estimated that 70 percent of migraine sufferers are female, with 60 to 70 percent of these women reporting that their migraines are related to their menstrual cycles. Migraines result from hormone fluctuations, specifically changes in estrogen levels, and women with migraines tend to get them right before, during or directly after their periods and not at other times in their monthly cycles. The good news is that common migraines decrease for many women after menopause and that, as female and male sufferers age, both classic and common migraine attacks are likely to become less frequent and less severe.
  • Prevention

    In recent studies, behavioral changes have been shown to prevent migraines in some cases. Results from diet changes, getting enough sleep, and stress reduction may decrease or even eliminate migraines and may be as successful as medications for prevention or alleviation of certain people's symptoms. Migraine aura with its many manifestations is most likely to occur when your brain is under some sort of stress. If you stay rested, maintain regular sleep patterns, remain vigilant about staying hydrated, eat regularly and avoid migraine triggering foods--chocolate, wheat, milk, MSG, meats with sodium nitrates, eggs, red wine, aged cheese, oranges, tea and coffee, corn syrup and yeast, among others--your migraines may decrease. In addition, find ways to reduce stress as much as possible. For migraine sufferers, lessening the pain, discomfort, and frequency of attacks more than justifies attempting some or all of these behavioral changes. Prevention really can be better than cure.
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