An Aura during Migraine

Migraine is one of the most debilitating headache disorders that affect almost 10% of the world’s population. It is considered to be a complex disorder primarily due to the consequences it has on the sufferer, both physically and psychologically. In majority of migraineurs, the headache is accompanied with nausea, vomiting and sensory disturbances. However, in a small percent of people, migraine brings along a visual phenomenon also known as a Migraine Aura or Classical Migraine.

What is a Migraine Aura?

A migraine aura, in simple terms, is seeing zig-zag, hazy lines in the vision. In some rare cases, the sufferer can also lose his vision for a short period of time before experiencing a blot of zig-zag lines. In most adults, an aura or visual symptom gradually starts to develop sometime before the headache begins and subsides as soon as the headache starts. Therefore, in such patients, a migraine aura serves as a warning sign for an oncoming migraine headache. However, in children, the aura may be present along with the headache. In most sufferers, the total duration of experiencing a migraine aura is not more than an hour.

Is it experienced every time?

Only a third of migraine sufferers experience migraine aura or visual aura. Not all migraineurs suffer from it and for others it may not accompany with all headaches. Also in rare cases it is possible that migraine aura may not lead to the subsequent headache, a phenomenon that becomes common as one gets older.

What are the symptoms of Migraine with Aura?

As with any migraine attack, the symptoms for migraine with aura remains the same. The only difference is in the visual perception few hours prior to the onset of headache. Some of the symptoms experienced by a patient suffering from aura are –

  1. Observing bizarre, hazy, flashy and zig zag lines/dots
  2. Blurry vision and partial vision loss (Temporarily)
  3. Confusion and dizziness
  4. Hearing hallucinations

Does Aura affect only the vision?

An Aura is basically a disturbance in any of the 5 senses. Since it is extremely common to experience visual disturbance, a migraine aura has been associated with vision only. However, the other possible aura symptoms that can be experienced, though rarely, are –

  1. Hypersensitivity to touch and feel
  2. Hallucinating hearing voices or smelling things which are not present
  3. A rare aura where a person feels distorted body and image perspective
  4. commonly called Alice in Wonderland syndrome
  5. Loss of speech and impairment to understand language and words.

Migraine is one of the most common headache disorders experienced by millions worldwide; however, a migraine aura is a rare occurrence even among migraine sufferers. Recognising these symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment will be helpful in treating and preventing migraine headaches. Additionally, it is extremely important to understand the various triggers that can bring on a migraine attack. Avoiding these triggers completely can prevent migraine headache and aura for a long time.

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