Only 1 in 5 migraine sufferers experience the phenomenon known as an aura. Migraine auras typically occur right before the onset of migraine pain and usually last between 5 and 30 minutes. Often these auras begin with stranger, neurological experiences that include ringing in the ears, strange flashes or streaks of lines in your field of vision, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Very few people who experience a migraine will also experience an aura.

Currently there is very little evidence to indicate where migraine auras come from or how to treat them specifically. It is believed that both dopamine and serotonin, 2 natural brain chemicals, are responsible for the experience. These chemicals may suddenly get out of whack and the body’s immune system will overcompensate. The aura leads directly into the crippling pain that is the hallmark of a migraine headache.

It is believed that genetics may play a role in migraine with auras in patients. It may also occur more in overweight patients. There may also be environmental triggers that provide additional fuel for these headaches.

The additional symptoms of a migraine aura include:

  • Blind spots
  • Half blindness in 1 or both eyes
  • Zigzagging patterns of light
  • Flashing lights
  • A prickling feeling on your skin
  • Overall weakness or fatigue
  • Hallucinations

While migraines with auras only affect about 20% of all patients with migraines, it is still a concern for doctors. Migraine auras aren’t particularly dangerous on their own but they can be exhausting and traumatizing during the experience.

Doctors recommend keeping a headache diary to help you better understand when and how your symptoms occur. You can begin to notice patterns and possible triggers that can help you avoid pain. There are some medications that can prevent migraines and some that are able to stop the pain as it begins. Talk to your specialist about your experience and see if these may be an option for you.

Have you experienced migraine auras before?

Image by Scott Anderson via Flickr


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