In the US, around one in four households includes someone who is struggling with the effects of migraine. With at least 35 million Americans suffering a migraine at some point in their lives (43% of women and 18% of men), it’s a common, debilitating condition that causes significant suffering.
For people who suffer regular migraines, the consequences can be significant – it’s estimated that migraine sufferers miss more than a day of work every three months due to a migraine, as well as significantly under-performing when trying to work at the same time as coping with the effects of a migraine.
Here we take a brief look at what a migraine is and what part a migraine aura plays in the migraine process. We describe the symptoms of a migraine aura, as well as discuss treatments and lifestyle modifications that may reduce or eliminate migraine auras.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a moderate to severe headache that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. The pain is typically concentrated down one side of the face and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased sensitivity to light and/or sound
In addition to the migraine itself, many sufferers experience symptoms in the days immediately prior to a migraine (these are collectively known as the Pro-Drome).
Prior to a migraine, sufferers may experience:
- Fluid retention
- Mood fluctuations and low mood
In addition, sufferers may experience a set of neurological disturbances before a migraine. These are known as a “migraine aura”. Some migraine sufferers may experience pre-drome and aura symptoms, some experience one or the other, and some sufferers have no pre-warning that a migraine is going to develop.
What is a Migraine Aura?
A migraine aura is a collection of neurological symptoms that precede a migraine. Typical aura symptoms include:
- Vision disturbances such as seeing bright lights, flashes of light, or odd shapes in the light.
- Pins and needles (paresthesia) in various parts of the body.
- Difficulty with speech.
- Numbness or weakness on one side of the body.
- Loss of vision.
Aura symptoms vary in severity and duration from person to person. Sufferers may also experience different aura symptoms each time they have a migraine, or may only suffer symptoms periodically, with some migraines coming on with no warning.
Note that some migraine aura sufferers may suffer the aura symptoms without ever developing the migraine headache.
What can Sufferers do if They Experience a Migraine Aura?
Unfortunately, there’s no recognized cure for migraine or migraine auras. Treatment consists of a mixture of medication to alleviate symptoms and trying to identify triggers that may cause a migraine to develop.
Many migraine sufferers discover that specific food choices, stress, hormonal changes, or fatigue may trigger a migraine.
Are There any Treatments for Migraine Aura?
There are no specific treatments that can stop a migraine aura once it’s started. When symptoms develop, the appropriate action depends on the severity of the symptoms and their likely progression. For example, some migraine sufferers know that once their migraine aura symptoms have started, they have about an hour before their migraine headache starts. This gives them time to take preventative pain relief or make sure they’re not about to start driving.
DIY Treatments for Migraine Aura
Depending on how debilitating the migraine aura symptoms are, sufferers may find one or more of the following of use:
- Resting in a darkened room.
- Take OTC painkillers (such as Tylenol (paracetamol), ibuprofen, or aspirin).
- Applying a cold compress if the migraine headache has started.
Medical Interventions for Migraine and Migraine Aura
There are a number of drugs that can be prescribed to lessen the frequency and severity of migraines. These may also reduce or even eliminate migraine aura symptoms. Some of the medication choices available from a professional care provider include:
- Lasmiditan (Reyvow)
- DHE 45/Migranal
- Anti-nausea medication
- CGRP Antagonists
Like any other medication, those used to treat migraines and migraine auras have side effects. Your care provider will discuss the pros and cons of the various types of medication they recommend, giving you the opportunity to make an informed decision about your treatment.
Tracking Symptoms to Identify Triggers
Many sufferers of migraine auras with or without a migraine headache are choosing to track their lifestyle to try and identify triggers that may precipitate a migraine/migraine aura. One of the best ways of doing this is to use a tracker app to record your day-to-day life. Users incorporate as much detail as they can about every aspect of their lives.
Using AI, the app can analyze the information that’s inputted to discover patterns or similarities that may point to a possible migraine/migraine aura trigger. Although the process may take some time, if successful it can provide users with the information they need to avoid potential triggers or minimize the risk of them triggering a migraine.
There is a long list of potential triggers, including physical factors, allergens in the environment, psychological factors, emotional issues, dietary triggers, and even some types of medication. For some people, triggers may be quite obscure – for example, a specific type of pollen or a food additive. In these circumstances, using an app can be one of the best ways of identifying what the trigger might be.
Used correctly, an app that helps with trigger identification is arguably one of the best ways of proactively managing the risk of a migraine or migraine aura.
Identify Migraine Aura Triggers Safely and Accurately
Although migraine auras aren’t dangerous, they can be enormously distressing. They can also have a significant impact on everyday life, as sufferers are frequently unable to work, drive or operate household appliances safely when they are suffering from migraine aura symptoms.
If you would like to know more about the role the Migraine Insight app could play in assisting with accurate symptom tracking and trigger identification, get in touch with the friendly team at Migraine Insight.
Our Team: We are Here to Help
It’s hard to find your triggers. It’s hard to find the right medication combination that really helps you get better. We want to help. We are a small, dedicated app development team with an app that helps you better understand your migraines and triggers. Everyone on the team has lived with migraines at some point in their lives. We are your community. Reach out any time with questions. We love questions. [email protected].
Track Your Triggers
Get the Migraine Insight Tracker – iOS App Store