What Causes the “Aura” of a Migraine?

Carlo Rinaudo Migraines

Many people today think that Aura symptoms go hand-in-hand with migraines. This is a misconception as there migraines can be with or without aura. Aura symptoms and migraine headaches can be very debilitating and early migraine treatment can help to limit the occurrence of these symptoms.1

What is migraine aura?

Migraine is a widely known as a debilitating disorder and in only 20% of migraine attacks, the classical headache is preceded by aura. Furthermore, only a quarter of people who suffer from migraine attacks will ever experience aura and only very few people will experience aura along with every attack.

Migraine aura has very distinctive clinical features and it is known to be gradual in onset. It is basically a collection of fleeting neurological symptoms that are classified as cognitive or sensory. Visual aura is characterized by a distortion of the visual field and is the type of aura that predominates.

People who experience aura symptoms will find that there are negative features, like vision loss, and positive features, like flashing lights. Aura symptoms build in intensity and suddenly vanish or recede. Then usually the distinctive headache of the migraine attack makes its appearance, however this is not always the case. Some people may never get a headache or the headache may begin before the aura symptoms have disappeared.

Even though visual aura is the most predominant manifestation of aura symptoms other motor, sensory, or speech disturbances may be involved.

Some people experience sensory aura. The features of sensory aura usually involve numbness and a tingling feeling on one side of your face and your lips and tongue that spreads as far as the hand of the same side of the body.

Both visual and sensory aura can be experienced in the same attack. 2345

So what causes Migraine Aura?

It is believed that aura symptoms are connected to electrochemical changes in the brain. The symptoms experienced are relevant to the portion of the brain in which the electrochemical changes occur. 4

Cortical spreading depression is one hypothesis that may be the culprit behind migraine aura. It has been suggested that the visual aura that accompanies a migraine attack moves across the part of the brain where visual signals are processed like a chemical or electrical wave and as the wave spreads, these visual hallucinations are caused. 35

How to deal with Migraine Aura

It is of critical importance to get migraine treatment as early as possible to eliminate the debilitating symptoms of a migraine attack and to lower the chances of recurring attacks. Call Brain Hub on 1300 770 197 now!

 

 

References:

  1. May A, Ophoff RA, Terwindt GM, Urban C, van Eijk R, Haan J, Diener HC, Lindhout D, Frants RR, Sandkuijl LA, Ferrari MD. Familial hemiplegic migraine locus on 19p13 is involved in the common forms of migraine with and without aura. Human genetics. 1995 Nov 1; vol. 96(5): 604-608.
  2. Dahlem MA, Hadjikhani N. Migraine Aura: Retracting Particle-Like Waves in Weakly Susceptible Cortex. PlosOne. April 2009; vol. 4(4): 1-9.
  3. Hadjikhani N, del Rio MS, Wu O, Schwartz D, Bakker D, Fischl B, Kwong KK, Cutrer FM, Rosen BR, Tootell RB, Sorensen AG. Mechanisms of migraine aura revealed by functional MRI in human visual cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2001 Apr 10; vol. 98(8): 4687-4692.
  4. Rothrock JF. Migraine Aura. American Headache Society. 2009; 1123-1124.
  5. James MF, Smith JM, Boniface SJ, Huang CL, Leslie RA. Cortical spreading depression and migraine: new insights from imaging? May 2001; vol. 24(5): 266-271.