A migraine headache is caused by changes in your nervous system and it has four stages, aura being the second one. The attack, and postdrome. Follow on to know about migraine aura and what does a migraine aura looks like.
What is Migraine Aura
Migraine is not just a headache. Migraine headaches are very painful with symptoms like continuous severe throbbing pain in the head, nausea, and sensitivity to all sorts of light, sound, and smells. Migraine has four stages, namely prodrome, aura, migraine attack, and postdrome. Of those who suffer from migraine headaches, only 20 %, feel the aura symptoms. Migraine aura is also described as the warning sign of migraine as its symptoms often start appearing before a headache.
What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine Aura :
The symptoms of Migraine aura begin to appear over a 5–20 minute period and they can last for one hour. If not treated, a migraine attack can continue for a minimum of 4 hours to 3-4 days.
Migraine episodes may occur varies from patient to patient. One can go through them very infrequently to a few times per month.
What Does A Migraine Aura Look Like
Migraine auras, the warning signs of a migraine, can be of three main forms:
Visual auras During Migraine:
During Visual aura, the patient sees some or all of these visual changes:
Scotomas or blind spots
Light flashes or sparkles of light
Zigzag patterns of lines
The visual aura signs first begin in the center of the affected person’s field of vision and then they spread outward. It is common for the affected person to lose the vision temporarily during the migraine attacks.
Physical Sensation Auras
For some people, the second stage of migraine may involve physical sensations. These physical sensations mostly start developing on one side of the body and then they spread slowly to other areas or sides of the body.
During physical aura the affected person may feel:
Pricking of pins and needles in the limbs
Numbness in the entire body or tingling sensations
Weakness in muscles on one side of the body
Speech or Language Difficulty Auras
It may sound strange, but some people may find difficulty in speech or language during migraine episodes. They might find it difficult to communicate in the right manner, finding the right words or expressions and they can also stutter or stammer for a while.
Along with the above migraine aura symptoms, one can also feel
Memory difficulty or changes
Fear and confusion
Partial paralysis or fainting, this happens rarely though
What Are The Types Of Migraine Aura
Though migraine with aura is only seen in 20-25% of migraine patients, some subtypes of migraine are more likely to involve migraine auras. They are:
Aphasic migraine, and
Hemiplegic migraine (This is the rarest of migraine that includes paralysis or weakness on one side of the body)
Migraine With Brainstem Aura
Migraine with brainstem aura is also very rare. A study from Denmark has revealed that it occurs in approximately 10% of migraine patients with aura.
The most common symptoms brainstem aura are:
Difficulty in speech
Ringing in the ears
Double vision or diplopia
This is also a rare subtype of migraine aura. It affects vision the vision in one eye only and can cause temporary blindness too. The affected person also sees flickering lights in that eye.
Most of the people who experience retinal migraines are under 40 and it appears only in 1 out of 200 people who experience migraines. The genetic history retinal migraine multiplies the risk of experiencing it.
Causes and risk factors
Medical science has still not come up with the exact causes of migraine and migraine aura. However, doctors believe that migraine with aura mostly occurs when a wave of electrical activity travels across the visual cortex of the brain.
The risk factors for migraine with aura include:
Alcohol and wine consumption
Facing bright lights or going out in the strong sun
Some foods and food additives like aged cheeses, processed foods, monosodium glutamate, etc
Hormonal fluctuations in females during pregnancy, menstruation, or while using oral contraceptives
Weather changes or barometric pressure changes
Indulging in intense physical activity
Sleeping too much or too less
Some medications, especially for high blood pressure
Stress and anxiety
Strong smells like that of smoke, perfume, etc
Following factors also increase the chances of developing migraine with aura:
Sex: Migraine attacks affect women three times more than men
Age: Migraine aura is more common during 18–44 years of age
Family history: This is the biggest risk factor of aura migraine as approximately 90% of migraine patients have a family history of migraine aura.
Treatments and remedies For Migraine Aura
Migraine and migraine aura are very painful conditions and can definitely affect the quality and functioning of our day to day life. It can be tackled with timely medical intervention. Along with the medications some doctors may also suggest botox treatment for migraine and migraine aura.
Some home remedies can also help you get rid of some of the migraine symptoms. Try to take a nap whenever you see the symptoms developing. Switch off all the lights and lie down in a cool, dark and quiet corner of your house. You can also try placing an ice pack on your forehead, eyes, and neck.
You should also bring some changes in your lifestyle as they can also help in preventing migraine and migraine aura episodes. Stress is the major risk factor of migraine and it is highly suggested that you should practice a stress-reduction technique like yoga, meditation, and relaxation. Never disturb your daily sleep routine, go to the bed at the same time and wake at the same time every day. Eating a balanced diet and avoid eating processed food or food additives as they increase the chances of migraine attacks. Make it a habit to drink lots of water and other healthy drinks. Avoid coffee and tea.
Migraine and migraine with aura is very painful and uncomfortable. It is always wise to follow the advice of your physician and take the right medications to prevent the worsening of pain and symptoms.