What is a Migraine Aura?
Around 25% of Migraine sufferers experience a Migraine with an Aura; an Aura comprises focal neurological phenomena that precede or accompany a Migraine attack and symptoms can be sensory or motor in nature; it can appear gradually over 5 to 20 minutes and generally lasts less than 60 minutes; for most sufferers the headache phase of the Migraine attack usually begins within 60 minutes of the end of the Aura phase; however, the pain can start before the Aura has completely subsided, it can be delayed up to several hours and it can be missing entirely, which is known as a silent Migraine.
Visual Aura is the most common of the neurological events and can occur without any headache; this is where a disturbance of vision often consists of unformed flashes of white and/or black, or multicolored lights 'Photopsia', or formations of dazzling zigzag lines 'Scintillating Scotoma' which are often arranged like the battlements of a castle, hence the alternative terms 'Fortification Spectra' and 'Teichopsia'; some patients complain of Blurred, Shimmering or Cloudy Vision, as though they were looking at an area above a heated surface, looking through thick or smoked glass, or in some cases Tunnel Vision and Hemianopsia.
The Somatosensory Aura of Migraine may consist of Digitolingual or Cheiro-Oral Paresthesias, a feeling of pins-and-needles experienced in the Hand and Arm, as well as in the Nose-Mouth area on the same side; the Paresthesia may migrate up the arm and then extend to involve the Face, Lips and Tongue; other symptoms of the Aura phase can include Auditory, Gustatory or Olfactory Hallucinations, temporary Dysphasia, Vertigo, Tingling or Numbness of the Face and other Extremities and Hypersensitivity to Touch.
The main 4 Types of Migraine Visual Aura are: