What are Migraine Auras?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Migraines are a persistent type of headache, generally causing extreme pain for an extended amount of time. Often, prior to the onset of a migraine, a person will get warning signs. These signs are known as auras. When a person experiences migraine auras, he or she may have vision disturbances, tingling in different parts of the body or become sensitive to light. The auras may start from several hours to a day before a migraine headache begins.

Migraines may develop over the course of four phases. The first phase is known as the prodrome phase and may include irritability and a change in bowel habits. The next phase is the aura phase. This phase may be the most debilitating because of the serious symptoms it may bring about.

After this phase is the actual attack. This is followed by the postdrome phase, which is the time after a migraine has passed. People who suffer migraines with auras may take more time to get back to their normal activities following an attack.

When a person gets visual disturbances prior to getting a migraine, the disturbances are called visual migraine auras. Visual auras may cause an immediate or slow change in vision. For instance, the disturbance may begin as blurriness that worsens over the course of several minutes or hours. Some people may also see stars or flashing lights. Other types of visual auras may include seeing wavy or zigzag lines and blind spots.


There are additional types of migraine auras. Leading up to a migraine attack, a person may have low energy, become weak and experience dizziness. He or she may also notice a change in speech, such as slurring. Tingling and numbness can be auras as well. These sensations may be felt in the tongue, face, arms and sometimes the legs.

In some cases, a person will experience one or several migraine auras without actually getting a headache. An individual who gets migraines frequently may experience auras without migraines from time to time. If the auras occur often and absent of an actual headache, consultation with a medical professional may be advised. This may be done to ensure that these symptoms are not due to a significant neurological problem. In most cases, a patient may undergo an imaging test such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to rule out any abnormalities.

Many longtime sufferers of this type of headache will be aware of certain warning signs that an attack is about to happen. There is generally no way to prevent an aura from occurring. The greatest focus may be to eliminate triggers that may initiate a migraine attack. Commonly, taking prescription pain medication, reducing stress and getting an adequate amount of sleep can reduce the possibility of having a migraine headache.



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