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Migraine With Aura: What Is It and How to Prevent and Treat It

The sharp pain begins. 

You’re unable to focus or work and you’re even incapable of lying on the couch and watching a movie. All you can seem to do is lay in a dark room and hope that the pain stops soon.

Migraines are no joke, but they don’t have to rule your life. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about a migraine with aura including symptoms, prevention, and treatment. 

What does migraine aura look like? 

A Woman With Migraine

A migraine with aura, also known as a classic migraine, is often triggered by similar stimuli over and over again. This could be anything from flashing lights to hormonal changes but the undeniable and piercing pain that comes with a migraine is the main symptom. 

Additional symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to sound or light
  • Blind spots
  • Lines or spots in the field of vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty speaking

One in six American women experience migraines but these often go untreated as many will self diagnose as a cold or fatigue. A migraine aura should be taken seriously and should be treated immediately. 

How do you treat migraine aura?

A Child is Crying

A migraine aura can be treated with over the counter medicine, a medical device, or non-drug therapy (see below).

Over the counter medicines are very commonly used for temporary relief of migraine aura symptoms. Medications such as aspirin or Advil are common treatments for pain. Other symptoms such as nausea can be treated with medications such as Dramamine. 

While these medicines are fine for those who don’t frequently experience migraines, those who consistently have to deal with the pain often take preventive measures. This includes medications like antidepressants, anti seizures, and blood pressure medications as recommended by a doctor. 

Some people also find medical devices beneficial. These devices, such as the single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation  can help stimulate the brain in such a way that the migraine pain is lessened. 

Types of migraine with aura

The migraine with aura is the most common type of migraine and when people say that they have a migraine, they’re most likely referring to this type. However, there are other types of migraines that are more rare but equally as uncomfortable. 

Hemiplegic migraine

A true rarity affecting an estimated 1 in 10,000 people is the hemiplegic migraine. This type of migraine results in pins and needles and temporary weakness or even paralysis on one side of the body. 

The hemiplegic migraine can last under 24 hours but it has also been known to last for several days. 

Migraine with brainstem aura

If you think that 1 in 10,000 is rare, consider that the migraine with brainstem aura is likely experienced by only 10 percent of people who have experienced the migraine with aura. 

While this is an incredibly small number of people around the world, the effects are just as grueling. Symptoms include slurred speech, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), double vision, and even vertigo. 

Retinal migraine

Upset vision is a common symptom of a standard migraine with aura, but for those who experience a retinal migraine, the symptoms are even stronger. Affecting only one eye, the retinal migraine can cause temporary blindness or the appearance of flickering lights. 

The retinal migraine is more common than the migraine with brainstem aura and those with a family history of retinal migraines or migraines with aura are at an increased risk to experience the migraine.

How long do migraine auras last? 

A Woman Without Face

Typically, migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Symptoms such as nausea or flickering in the eyes usually sets in at about twenty minutes after the migraine begins. 

However, the duration of a migraine differs by a number of environmental factors. While factors such as alcohol and caffeine can cause a migraine, they can also exasperate it and make it last longer. 

Many people report having indications that a migraine is going to happen. This phase is known as the prodromal phase. During this phase, many people report having experienced subtle changes 24 to 48 hours before the migraine begins. These changes could include anything from irritability to constipation. Fewer people will experience a migraine aura, which is any type of sensory sign that a migraine is about to onset. Typically, visual auras such as dots across the field of vision or the fortification spectrum (a pattern that resembles a medieval fort’s walls) are the most common. Other sensory notifiers include numbness or difficulty speaking.

What happens in the brain during a migraine aura? 

During a migraine, your brain goes through various types of phases. 

Prodrome. During this phase, you might experience indicators that a migraine is on the horizon. This could be anything from different cravings or irritability to constipation.

Aura. The next phase is the aura. During the aura, less than fifty percent of people will have sensory experience, such as flashing lights or numbness. This is the calm before the storm.

Headache. Finally, the headache sets in and the pain begins. The pain from a migraine aura can last anywhere from hours to days. Other symptoms are common during this stage such as nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and anxiety. 

Postdrome. The migraine hangover. The pain from the migraine stops, but the aftereffects are very real. Tiredness, and dizziness set in.

But what is happening to your brain during these phases? 

It boils down to this: your brain is more sensitive to stimuli. The sensitivity stimulates the trigeminal nerve which then releases neurotransmitters. This then causes the blood vessels in the brain to expand and become inflamed, resulting in the migraine pain and symptoms. It isn’t until the brain is able to calm down that the pain goes away. 

What can cause migraine aura? 

Migraine auras can be caused by any number of factors, but people who frequently experience migraines will notice that the same thing tends to trigger their symptoms. 

Here are a few common triggers for a migraine aura

  • Caffeine
  • Food additives and heavily processed foods
  • Hormone fluctuations in females (pregnancy, birth control, menstruation, menopause) 
  • Alcohol
  • Environmental pressure changes
  • Sun or bright light exposure
  • Intense exercise
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Stress
  • Strong smells

While these are among some of the most common migraine aura triggers, many people are different and might find that something in their routine triggers the onset of a migraine.

Non-drug therapy for the prevention and treatment of a migraine: About Migraine Stopper

While drugs might be useful in the shorterm, in the long run it’s far better for your body to use non-drug therapy to treat and even completely prevent migraines

The Migraine Stopper is a portable air ear insufflator which creates neuromodulation that results in migraine relief. By stimulating the vagus and trigeminal nerve with gentle air pressure the device is able to help calm the nerves and brain. Within 15 minutes of home-use you should experience relief from your migraine.

Without the use of any medication, you have the power to turn off your migraine. Shop the Migraine Stopper today and take back control of your life!

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