What’s a migraine and what is an aura?
A migraine is not just a bad headache!
It can be a much more complex condition-and some people experience symptoms that are pretty strange.
Migraine usually involves a severe throbbing headache behind one eye, difficulty being in the light, and nausea or vomiting , and an episode can last from hours to days.
Sometimes people get odd sensations many hours before the headache occurs, like a change in mood or appetite.
So what’s an aura?
Just before the headache starts, some people develop an “aura”- this most commonly involves a disturbance in vision- which may include flashes of light, blind spots or shimmering lines.
A migraine aura may also cause numbness which affects the arm and then face (though usually there are visual symptoms too).
Even less commonly, it may involve difficulty speaking.
Sufferers feel the familiar depressing realisation that a migraine is starting!
It tends to improve and settle after 20 to 60 minutes as the headache starts.
There are a variety of medications that may prevent the onset of migraine if taken at the time of the aura.
5 strange auras
(1) A “scotoma” – this is an area of complete visual loss; a blob of blindness – it feels quite weird.
(2) Movement, shaking or bubbling of objects you’re looking at – this can be pretty nauseating.
(3) Flashes & shimmering.
(4) Gradually expanding dancing lines of flickering light, often in a c-shape – the author experiences these in the colours of the flag of South Africa and, whilst it’s not very nice to have a migraine, this bit is rather beautiful.
(5) Numbness of the arm, starting in the hand and moving up until it reaches the face and mouth – pretty scary I’d imagine and easily mistaken for stroke symptoms – if you’re in any doubt, call an ambulance.
If you think you’re suffering from migraine you should definitely seek advice
Migraine is pretty grim- it costs the Australian economy billions in sick-days and is often fairly preventable if you know how.
Your author, who is an online doctor with Qoctor, has deep sympathy and nothing but love for migraine-sufferers- I feel your pain!
If you know you’re having a migraine, you can get an online medical certificate at qoctor.com.au