What is an “aura migraine”?
About one-quarter of all migraine sufferers will suffer from migraine with aura. This migraine stage is sometimes referred to as “Classic Migraine.” In general, you may have heard the word “aura” used to describe a feeling or energy around something. It is used in the same way when discussing migraines.
An aura is a change in sensation, technically a “focal neurologic deficit,” that is usually felt before a migraine occurs, signaling that a migraine is coming. The most common migraine auras involve vision, including blurry vision, sensitivity to bright light and even seeing things that aren’t actually there (like wavy lines or other shapes). But auras can also involve symptoms like nausea, numbness of the face, speech changes, or muscle weakness.
Usually an aura will be felt within hours of a migraine and can be an indicator that a migraine is about to strike. Although typically uncomfortable, a “benefit” of aura can be that it gives the patient time to take medication before a migraine fully attacks to reduce the severity of the migraine symptoms. Some patients may also experience auras that never turn into migraines.
Migraine sufferers may also experience “prodromes” which are similar to auras but differ in a few important ways. Prodromes are also experienced before the migraine, but they can occur hours to days before a migraine strikes. Also, as opposed to neurologic changes, a prodrome involves more general changes in mood or behavior, such as becoming more irritable, tired, or energetic.
Migraine with aura (or prodrome) is generally not treated differently than other migraines. There are several migraine treatments. Lifestyle changes, alternative therapies, medications, Botox® and/or migraine surgery can be effective for patients who have auras associated with migraine headaches. Each patient will respond differently to different treatments, whether or not an aura is involved. It is best to be evaluated by a migraine treatment expert to determine which route will be best for you.
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