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What is an Aura Migraine?
An aura migraine, which is also called an ocular migraine, is a type of migraine headache that includes visual disturbances, such as shimmers of light, blind spots, flashes or wavy lines in your field of vision. Aura migraines can coincide with the discomfort of a traditional migraine, or they can develop completely separately. Thus, you may experience migraines with auras without having pain. Instead, you may only experience symptoms that affect your senses. The aura of an aura migraine will likely last less than an hour, but other symptoms of the condition may persist much longer.
Aura migraines may be uncomfortable, but they can usually be treated effectively by taking medication and avoiding triggers.
What Can Trigger an Aura Migraine?
Aura migraines can be triggered by a number of things. Here are a few of them:
- Certain Foods – Specific foods can sometimes trigger migraines with auras. Your doctor can help you identify the foods to which you have an unusual sensitivity.
- Bright Light – Like other types of migraines, aura migraines are sometimes triggered by exposure to bright light. The light can be natural or artificial.
- Strong Odors or Fragrances – Intense odors can trigger aura migraines, even if the smells are not unpleasant.
- Changes in the Weather – As the weather transitions seasonally, you may notice an increase in the number of aura migraines that you experience.
- Loud Noises – Many people with aura migraines are sensitive to loud sounds.
- Caffeine – Too much caffeine, as well as a sudden drop in caffeine intake, can trigger an aura migraine.
- Hormonal Issues– Changes in hormones, such as estrogen, can trigger an episode.
- Stress – Periods of stress or anxiety can cause the migraine symptoms to start.
- Family History – If other members of your family suffer from migraines, you may be more likely to experience migraines with auras.
- Food Additives – Chemical additives, such as artificial sweeteners, MSG and nitrates, may also trigger an aura migraine.
How Many People Are Affected?
About 37 million people suffer from chronic migraines. Of those, about a third have migraines with auras.
How Does It Affect Most People?
Most people with aura migraines experience mental fog, so during an episode, you may find it difficult to concentrate or find the right words as you speak. In addition, you may feel tingly, numbing sensations throughout your face, tongue and hands. The feeling may be similar to the tingly sensation that can result from poor blood circulation.
Also, within your vision, there may be blind spots and flashes of light. These visual disturbances can make it difficult to drive or be fully aware of what is going on around you. Your ability to taste, smell or palpate something in the normal manner may also be disrupted. You may even experience hallucinations. Weakness is also common during migraines with auras.