Frequent Scintillating Scotoma: Is This Just Another Headache?
The most challenging thing about diagnosing frequent scintillating scotoma is that patients are usually confused about the symptoms. They usually resemble the symptoms of other conditions. While the scintillating scotoma is a not a serious neurological disorder(1), patients usually experience a visual aura that could easily affect their lives for a short while.
Most of these episodes only happen once or twice a year, but sometimes they become more frequent. In that case, some patients will become concerned just because they are becoming less functional because of their inability to read or drive while experiencing such episodes.
Are You At Risk?
The good thing to know is that there is nothing serious going on with you if you are suffering from frequent scintillating scotoma. Most of the time, your doctor will prescribe medications that will strengthen your blood vessels just to make sure that you don’t experience a lot of episodes. Since most of the time, your aura will not be accompanied by a headache; you probably will not need any OTCs or painkillers.
Patients need to be precise and decisive when it comes to describing their symptoms to the doctor. While some patients can say that they have blurry vision, the truth is that scintillating scotoma is a totally different condition.
Patients either have positive or negative auras in that case. A positive aura is when the patient sees something that is not there. A negative aura is when there is a blind spot in their vision where they are not able to see everything around them.
Such visual auras can make objects seem different in size or position. The condition can last from a few seconds to a few months. Patients usually forego such symptoms unless they are accompanied by other obvious symptoms like headaches, tingling or numbness. But when they become very more frequent, things can become more concerning.
What Causes your Frequent Scintillating Scotoma?
If you are experiencing frequent scintillating scotoma, you should head to your doctor. Most of the time, the condition could be caused by weak blood vessels in your brain. When this condition happens on the retinal level, older patients are usually at risk especially the ones with a history of hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases.
The condition could also be caused by problems in the retinal artery or the optic nerve. In that case, patients usually experience negative auras; where they can’t see the entire field of view. The condition could last from a few seconds up to 30 minutes. Healthcare providers should keep an eye on the nature and progress of the condition to make sure that there is nothing wrong with the blood capillaries in the brain.
Although this is not a dangerous or fatal condition per se’, it could be an indication of something more serious going on. You should always head to the doctor whenever you start experiencing such frequent episodes. The doctor will have to run a lot of tests to make sure that there is nothing wrong with your vision nerve. Tests will help rule out all the other more serious possibilities and will also help decide on the extent of the problem.
Learn more about the different Types of Headaches
Article reference: (1)https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/neurological_disorders/
Originally published at treatheadaches.com on August 13, 2018.