Migraine Aura – Symptoms, Causes and Diagnosis

You may not be aware that there are different kinds of migraines with varying symptoms and ways of manifesting themselves.

One of the ways in which this condition can appear is with migraine aura. People who experience these types of headaches, may experience four phases: prodrome, an aura, the migraine itself and the postdrome. Not all sufferers will go through all the phases, that depends on your own unique physiology and also on the particular attack – some people will experience all phases one time and only a couple of the phases another time.

What is a migraine aura?

This type of headache is very common, in fact, it is said that it accounts for about a quarter of all migraines. There are various different ways that an aura may appear to a sufferer.

Often migraine aura appear in different ways for people – some people will begin to feel dizzy or as if seasick, other people will have a speck of something begin to float across their vision, you may become ultra sensitive to light, see zig zag lines, or even hear a ringing in your ears.

Some of the other symptoms that people experience include: blind spots in your vision or blurriness of vision, flashing light in your vision, tunnel vision, hallucinations – seeing, smelling or hearing things that are not real.

Apart from affecting your vision, there are some other symptoms that this condition may bring with it. These include: a feeling of weakness, numbness or even pins and needles in your body, weakness or numbness in your arms or legs and a sense of vertigo.

Other neurological symptoms of this condition can include slurring your words or finding it difficult to put clear thoughts together, losing memory or feeling forgetful, a feeling of mental confusion.

All of the above symptoms are common, and they can be very scary for people who experience them. Fortunately, they are most often very short lived and are not indicative of a more serious condition. However, if you do experience any of these conditions, you should visit your doctor to discuss them.

If you know that you experience these kinds of symptoms, you can take some measures to prevent the headache from starting and hopefully avoid losing hours or even days to the pain of the condition.

What causes migraine aura?

At present there is no fixed consensus between scientists about what actually causes aura to occur. At present many investigators think that this kind of occurrence is caused by a chemical change neurologically that causes an impulse, or electrical current, to move across the visual cortex of the brain. It is hypothesized that this change and impulse interrupt the normal functioning of the visual cortex and lead to many of the visual causes of the condition.

There are some trigger factors that may bring on this condition in patients who are susceptible to it. They include: menstruation or other hormonal changes, stress, lack of sleep, flashing lights such as strobes, and some medications or even foods.

It is also thought that the hormones seratonin and dopamine play a part in migraines aura. There is a theory that something may interfere with the way that these naturally occuring hormones function in the brain and this can cause the immune system to go into hypedrive and produce lots of immune response cells causing the blood vessels in the brain to constrict and lead to aura and the pain of the headache.

Who experiences the condition?

Men and women both experience these kinds of headaches. There is some evidence that women might experience them more often than men. Often migraines run in the family and many other relatives will also report suffering the same kinds of symptoms that you have begun to suffer.

How can you prevent or treat the condition?

Everybody who experiences these has different triggers and causes behind the condition. It is best to visit your doctor and discuss what your personal experience has been in order for them to rule out any other conditions. They will also help you to first diagnose the condition and then set about identifying what might be your triggers and identify a way in which your can manage the condition.