What Is A ‘migraine With Aura’
There are 2 types of migraine: migraine with aura, and without aura.
It might sound a bit paranormal, but migraine with aura is very real. Some people see flashing lights or a change in their vision some having trouble speaking, and some feel ‘pins and needles’ in their arms and legs. This can happen before or during a migraine attack.
Even if you get auras, you may not experience one with every migraine. The aura itself usually lasts less than an hour. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why it happens.
Migraine Without Head Pain
Also called a Silent or Acephalgic Migraine, this type of migraine can be very alarming as you experience dizzying aura and other visual disturbances, nausea, and other phases of migraine, but no head pain. It can be triggered by any of a persons regular triggers, and those who get them are likely to experience other types of migraine, too. The International Headache Society classifies this type as typical aura without headache.
How A Migraine Feels Compared To A Headache
One of the biggest differences between a headache and a migraine is the sensations you feel. People who have headaches often feel:
- Pressure and pain in varying frequencies and intensities
- Pain extended to the neck or face
People with migraines often experience similar signs, along with additional symptoms such as:
- Throbbing pain
- Neck stiffness
- Seeing colored spots or floaters
Typically, migraines bring on more symptoms than headaches, and those symptoms can be more severe. However, it really depends on what’s causing your headache. Severe headaches could also lead to more intense symptoms.
If you aren’t exactly sure if youre experiencing migraine pain or headache pain, call your doctor or head to and explain the pain. They’ll help you determine if you’re experiencing a headache or a migraine.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Migraines
The primary symptom of migraine is a headache. Pain is sometimes described as pounding or throbbing. It can begin as a dull ache that develops into pulsing pain that is mild, moderate or severe. If left untreated, your headache pain will become moderate to severe. Pain can shift from one side of your head to the other, or it can affect the front of your head, the back of your head or feel like its affecting your whole head. Some people feel pain around their eye or temple, and sometimes in their face, sinuses, jaw or neck.
Other symptoms of migraine headaches include:
- Sensitivity to light, noise and odors.
- Nausea and vomiting, upset stomach and abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Feeling very warm or cold .
- Pale skin color .
- Euphoric mood.
Prodrome: The Warning Phase Of Migraine
There can be changes in mood and energy level during the prodrome, and often a partner or family member might pick up on the signs even when you dont, says Roderick Spears, MD, a neurologist at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.
Several signs and symptoms are associated with the prodrome phase. They can include:
Recognizing these signs and symptoms as part of the prodrome phase and treating them accordingly whether its by taking medication, avoiding migraine trigger, or practicing mindfulness meditation or relaxation techniques may lessen the severity of the resulting migraine or even prevent it.
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What Happens During A Migraine Aura
Imagine you are sitting at your computer with a pile of work to go through. Suddenly, you feel a little ‘off.’
You can’t focus on your screen, so you rub your eyes. Then you then begin to see floaters and flashes of light. Thinking that you’ve had enough work for the day, you think about grabbing a coffee.
As you stand up, your vision goes black and you can’t see.
You feel tingling in your face and your right arm goes numb. You understandably panic and ask your coworker to help you. You think you might be having a stroke.
That’s what Migraine with aura can feel like: many of the same stroke symptoms, yet only temporary. Despite the fact that aura symptoms disappear, they can be incredibly disabling while they’re happening.
What Triggers Headaches And Migraines
Common triggers of tension headaches or migraines include:
- Alcohol use.
- Stomach upset or abdominal pain.
Cluster headaches are the most severe type of primary headache. Cluster headaches come in a group or cluster, usually in the spring or fall. They occur one to eight times per day during a cluster period, which may last two weeks to three months. The headaches may disappear completely for months or years, only to recur later. The pain of a cluster headache is:
- Intense with a burning or stabbing sensation.
- Located behind one of your eyes or in the eye region, without changing sides.
- Throbbing or constant.
New daily persistent headaches
New daily persistent headaches come on suddenly and last for more than three months. They typically occur in people who werent having frequent headaches before. The pain of NDPH is:
- Constant and persistent without easing up.
- Located on both sides of the head.
- Not responsive to medications.
Sinus headaches are the result of a sinus infection, which causes congestion and inflammation in the sinuses . People, and even healthcare providers, often mistake migraines for sinus headaches. Symptoms of sinus headaches include:
- Bad taste in mouth.
- Pain that gets worse with sudden head movement or straining.
- Mucus discharge .
Medication overuse headaches
- Headaches becoming more frequent.
- More days with headaches than without.
- Pain thats worse in the morning.
Headaches in children
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How Common Are Headaches In Adults
If your head is throbbing, youre not alone. Headache is one of the most common pain conditions in the world. Up to 75% of adults worldwide have had a headache in the past year.
Headaches are a major cause of absenteeism from work and school. They also take a toll on social and family life. For some people, continually battling headaches can lead to feeling anxious and depressed.
Difference Between Headache And Migraine
Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but the truth is, they are very different. They may both result in head pain but how they manifest symptoms and how they are treated will vary.
A headache is pain that causes pressure and aching. They usually come on slowly but some can hit out of nowhere. Pain ranges from mild to severe, usually occurring on both sides of your head, with common areas including the forehead, temples, and back of the neck, according to Healthline. They can last anywhere from a half hour to several days, with the most common type being a tension headache, triggered by stress, muscle strain, and anxiety.
A migraine is a type of headache that is intense or severe, with other symptoms present in addition to head pain, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain behind one eye or ear
- Pain in the temples
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Seeing flashing lights or spots
Sometimes migraines are so severe that people seek out care at an emergency room. Unlike headaches, migraines usually affect just one side of the head. And while you may be able to take part in activities or go to work with a headache, a migraine causes such intense pain, throbbing, and associated symptoms that it is extremely difficult or impossible to perform daily tasks. Often times, the only way to relieve a migraine is to take medication, then lie down in a dark room in silence until it passes.
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Stroke And Migraine With Aura Overlapping Symptoms
- Visual changes
- Stroke: Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Migraine with aura: Flashing lights spots or zigzag lines temporary, partial loss of vision
As you can see, it can be very difficult to tell whether someones having a stroke or migraine with aura because the symptoms can be nearly identical. As if to complicate matters even more, people who suffer from seizure disorders can also experience aura symptoms. This is why its so important to have any of these symptoms checked out by a medical professional, especially in the case of a stroke where time is brain.
Recognizing a stroke is key, according to Albert Yoo, MD, a neurologist at Medical City Plano. Dr. Yoo says that because treatment is time dependent, every minute that passes without medical care means more brain cells are dying.
Stages Of A Migraine Attack
It is often difficult to know when a migraine attack is going to happen. However, you can often tell the pattern of each attack as there are well defined stages.
It is these stages and their symptoms that distinguish a migraine from a headache.
However, not everyone will experience all of the symptoms of each stage and the stages can overlap. In adults, we can divide a migraine attack into four or five stages that lead on from each other.
Learning to recognise the different stages of a migraine attack can be useful. You might get one, all, or a combination of these stages, and the combination of stages may vary from attack to attack. Each stage can vary in how long and how bad it is. Recognising different symptoms at different times during your attack can give your doctor information which may help them make a diagnosis. Taking medication as soon as you notice the pain may stop or shorten an attack.
Migraine attacks in children are often much shorter than in an adult. It may be easier to tell the different headache stages in a child.
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Stroke Or Migraine How To Know The Difference
Youre hit suddenly with a blinding headache. Maybe youve had migraines before and this feels like another one. Or maybe youve never had a migraine but imagine this is what one must feel like. You might be right, but what if youre not? Just like stomach pain and chest pain, a bad headache can indicate a number of conditions that have similar or overlapping symptoms. Since both stroke and migraine are common neurovascular disorders with many neurological and physical similarities, your throbbing head could be a migraine mimicking a stroke or a stroke disguised as a migraine. So which it is: stroke or migraine? Knowing the difference could save your life.
The Headache Or Main Attack Stage
This stage involves moderate to severe head pain. The headache is typically throbbing and is made worse by movement. It is usually on one side of the head, especially at the start of an attack. However, you can get pain on both sides, or all over the head.
Nausea and vomiting can happen at this stage, and you may feel sensitive to light, sound, smell and movement. Painkillers work best when taken early in this stage.
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Migraine Treatment And Home Remedies
There’s no cure for migraine headaches. But many drugs can treat or even prevent them. Common migraine treatments include:
You may ease migraine symptoms by:
- Resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room
- Putting a cool compress or ice pack on your forehead
- Drinking plenty of liquids
Complementary and alternative treatments
Some people get relief with therapies they use in addition to or instead of traditional medical treatment. These are called complementary or alternative treatments. For migraine, they include:
- Biofeedback. This helps you take note of stressful situations that could trigger symptoms. If the headache begins slowly, biofeedback can stop the attack before it becomes full-blown.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy . A specialist can teach you how actions and thoughts affect how you sense pain.
- Supplements. Research has found that some vitamins, minerals, and herbs can prevent or treat migraines. These include riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and melatonin. Butterbur may head off migraines, but it can also affect your liver enzymes.
- Body work. Physical treatments like chiropractic, massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and craniosacral therapy might ease headache symptoms.
Talk to your doctor before trying any complementary or alternative treatments.
The American Migraine Foundations Guide To Triggers & How To Manage Them
The sudden onset of migraine means a dark room, bed, and a cool towel for most of us. While these seem to come out of nowhere, many will find that there are usually some signs that a migraine attack is on its way. These signs can reveal a pattern in your symptoms, and even provide you with preventative tools for managing migraine. Everyone has different triggers, but there are a few common culprits that affect a large number of people living with migraine. When you can identify your triggers, you are one step closer to effectively managing your migraine and avoiding future attacks.
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Headaches Are Interfering With Your Daily Life
If you have headaches that are landing you in bed all day or otherwise making you unable to perform your normal daily activities, its time to see a doctor. You may be experiencing migraines, or the headaches could be a symptom of another underlying issue such as the ones listed above. Only a doctor can assess the cause, so get help as soon as possible.
Make an appointment with one of our headache specialists at Keck Medicine of USC. If youre in the Los Angeles area, schedule an appointment by calling or by visiting neuro.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.
Living With Hemiplegic Migraine
I live with hemiplegic migraine , which randomly gives me symptoms like a drooping face, pins and needles feelings at the most awful times, and migraines that will not let up. Ive been constantly worrying about my worsening of symptoms. Normally the pinching feeling that travels up my arm to my neck and hits my feet is painful. This is a whole different type of painful. Its also mentally painful wondering what body part will be affected next and how bad the symptoms will ultimately become.
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How Do I Know If Im Having A Migraine
How do I know if Im having a migraine? As it turns out, you wont have to think about it for long. In fact, a study published by the National Institutes of Health found that answering just 3 quick questions can help you determine with 95% accuracy whether youre having a migraine. Take the quick migraine screening test below. Then come back to learn more about the real-world symptoms that may indicate a migraine.
Those who get severe and / or frequent headaches may often ask, how do I know if Im having a migraine? If youve ever wondered if you have a migraine coming on, youre not alone. In fact, according to the Migraine Research Foundation, 12% of the population suffers from
migraine, making it the worlds 3rd most common illness. To those who get them, theres no doubt: migraine attacks are debilitating. But for someone whos never had one before, it might be difficult to know what a migraine actually feels like. When you feel a bad headache coming on, you might wonder if its just another headache or a full-fledged migraine attack. If youre unsure whether your headaches rise to the level of migraine, here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate your headache is more than just a headache. Refer to this list the next time you ask, how do I know if Im having a migraine?
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
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