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Migraine Aura: Neurologic symptoms that often precede a Migraine Headache, typically by about 60 minutes.
Part of the challenge with migraine aura is the definition. If you include every symptom that may come before migraine (including symptoms that may occur 2-3 days ahead of time), that’s a lot different than the more classic definition of a very short-term symptom (20-30 minutes) (typically) right before a headache. Early symptoms of a migraine attack can be divided into various categories, or all lumped together.
Myth: Migraine Aura is always a visual disturbance.
Reality: Visual disturbances are the most common Auras, but there are other Aura warning signs.
This is a whole topic of its own, but an example of a non-visual aura would be a tingling feeling (“pins and needles”) and numbness.
Myth: If your attacks are preceded by Aura, they will always will be preceded by Aura.
Reality: If you experience Migraine Attacks with Aura you will usually experience Migraine Attacks without Aura.
Myth: A true Migraine attack always involves some kind of Aura.
Reality: Only about 20% of Migraine Attacks include Aura.
This is an important one. Most migraine attacks do not include aura. Many people with migraine will never experience aura.
The 20% statistic will vary with age and gender. Some have suggested that this number is too high, because doctors may use a broader definition of aura than what we’re using here, or may diagnose any kind of visual issue that happens to occur around a migraine attack as “aura”.
Myth: Migraine Aura is always followed by a severe headache.
Reality: Aura may be followed by a severe headache, or a mild headache, or no headache.
Yes, just a reminder: many migraineurs do get aura and no headache at all.
Myth: Migraine Aura can be disturbing but never disabling.
Reality: Migraine Aura may be only an annoyance, or it can be disabling.
Migraine aura can be extremely disabling, even when there is no pain at all in the migraine attack.
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Most of this information is pretty well known, but special thanks to the following books: Migraine and Other Headaches, Migraine and Your Child, The Migraine Brain, Menstrual Migraine, Imitators of Epilepsy, Second Edition