Migraine with Aura

What is a Migraine with Aura?

Many individuals who suffer from migraine headaches experience a migraine with aura. This type of headache is the same as a regular migraine except individuals have warning signs that a headache is near.

These warning signs produce various symptoms that can impact a person’s vision, speech and other body functions. It is believed that the causes of a migraine with aura are related to the malfunction of chemicals called dopamine and serotonin that are in the brain. Many individuals who have migraines with aura have other family members that also suffer from these severe headaches.

What are the Symptoms of a Migraine with Aura?

Individuals will normally experience several symptoms days or hours before an actual headache with aura.

Symptoms include

Yawning and tiredness, frequent urination, stiffness in the neck and hunger cravings.

Symptoms of a headache with aura may include a weak feeling in the body, tingling sensations, difficulties talking and hallucinating. Many aura symptoms affect a person’s eyesight and they may have blind spots or loss of vision. Some individuals often see lights flashing or wavy lines in front of their eyes. Headache symptoms include extreme head pain, being very hot or extremely cold, a sick stomach and dizzy spells.

Migraine With Aura Causes

Migraine with aura is a type of migraine headache that shares many of the same causes associated with a classic migraine. Doctors have performed MRI scans on patients who are in the midst of an active migraine with aura. These scans revealed chemical changes in the brain that seem to move in a wave-type pattern through different areas of the brain. When this wave passes through the area that controls vision, the symptoms of migraine with aura will occur.

Doctors are not completely certain as to what causes any type of migraine headache. However, there are some factors that are known to trigger a migraine episode.

Certain emotional and psychological states can trigger a migraine. When someone is deeply depressed or involved in a highly stressful situation, a migraine or migraine with aura may occur.

A lack of sleep or a change in the normal sleeping pattern may trigger a migraine. Becoming too tired while working or exercising may also trigger the condition.

Certain dietary factors are migraine with aura triggers. Cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits, tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages are all known to cause migraines to develop.

Sometimes, environmental factors will trigger a migraine. For instance, some migraine sufferers report that seeing a flashing light or hearing a loud noise will result in a migraine.

How is a Migraine with Aura Treated?

The best treatment for a headache with aura is to rest in a silent room that is dark. A cold cloth placed on the head where there is pain may provide some relief. Many individuals take drugstore pain medications or a doctor can also prescribe a stronger pain reliever if necessary.

Other medications that are often prescribed to shrink the blood vessels include sumatriptan and rizatriptan. Some medications that are commonly prescribed for other medical conditions can also help treat migraines. These include blood pressure medications, such as atenolol and timolol. Antidepressant medications, such as nortriptyline and amitriptyline, that are commonly used to prevent seizures, are also prescribed for headaches with aura.

Migraine With Aura Prevention

In order to prevent the onset of a migraine with aura, it is important to avoid those factors which might trigger an attack. This is easier said than done in some instances.

Those with a history of migraine with aura can eliminate from the diet foods that are known triggers.

Try to go to bed each night at the same time. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night is helpful for migraine prevention.

Avoid places with flashing lights, bright lights or where very loud noises are known to be present.

Work to reduce stress. There are stress relief techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation that might be helpful for some people.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
March 08, 2018