What is an aura migraines

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

Signs that directly precede the headache are called aura. The aura often consists of visual disturbances, which can be very different. Some patients see flashes of light or colors - most commonly, flickering zigzag lines that start in the center of the vision and slowly spread across the field of vision. Other patients have blind spots in the field of view that slowly expand. Some patients report weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation in the face, hand, or legs on one side. Disturbances in speaking can also occur. Some patients report dizziness, unsteadiness or double vision.

Aura signs usually develop over a period of 5 to 10 minutes (max. 20 min.) And typically last about 15 to 30 minutes (max. 60 min.). Most of the time, the headache starts after the aura has ended. However, sometimes the aura and headache overlap. Sometimes there is just an aura without subsequent pain. All disturbances of the aura are only temporary, they never leave permanent damage.

Pain phase

The mostly medium to severe headache is felt as pulsating, throbbing or stabbing. It usually starts on one side and spreads to the forehead, temple and eye area. It can later expand to the other side of the head. About every fifth patient has headaches on both sides. The pain does not always occur on the same side, rather the pain side can change from attack to attack. A migraine attack lasts between 4 to 72 hours. It often begins in the early hours of the morning, and around a quarter of patients wake up with migraine pain.

Typically, in addition to headaches, migraines almost always experience loss of appetite and, in many cases, nausea (80%), vomiting (40 to 50%), sensitivity to light (60%), sensitivity to noise (50%) or sensitivity to odors (10%) . Physical activity and stress make the pain worse.

At the end of the headache phase, the pulsating character often changes to a constant pain. This is often followed by a sleep phase, with which the migraine attack subsides. Subsequently, the opposite signs of the “harbingers” from the prodromal phase often appear.

Certain internal and external factors can promote (“trigger”) a migraine, but are not causally responsible for it. The spectrum of these individual migraine triggers ranges from irregular sleep, to hormone changes, to certain foods or alcohol and weather influences (see also causes). Even in the relaxation phase after stressful situations, migraine attacks often occur, which is why attacks often occur on weekends or on vacation.