Coping With Migraine Auras
Migraine with aura can be disabling and keep you from work, school, social events, essentially from living your life when they stroke. For this reason living with them may seem difficult and so its important you find useful ways to cope with migraines with auras in order to enjoy your life.
The first step is to find your triggers so you can better avoid them. Some common triggers include strong smells, bright lights, loud noises, changes in weather, being tired, stressed out or depressed, skipping meals or menstrual cycles and changes in hormones. As mentioned keeping a headache diary can help you track what your own triggers are.
Following the plan which your doctor has put you on, too, can help you better cope with migraines with aura and prevent future episodes allowing you to enjoy your life.
Lastly, speaking to others or a therapist may help you receive the emotional support you need to better cope with migraines with aura.
Two 2013 studies found that women who experience migraines with aura headaches accompanied by visual disturbances have a greater risk of heart attack and blood clots. The first study revealed that migraine with aura largely contributes to cardiovascular events and stroke, and the second study looked at womens use of hormonal contraceptives and the risk of blood clots. Continue reading
Causes Of A Sudden Increase In Migraine With Aura
Migraine can be difficult to manage and cause debilitating pain. Auras add to the discomfort, causing issues even before a migraine episode starts. On their own, migraine auras are a concern. Studies have shown that the presence of aura in migraine attacks can be a sign of more serious neurological conditions, including a twofold increased risk for ischemic stroke.
No one exactly knows why auras develop before migraine attacks, but a leading theory is that theyre the result of cortical spreading depression and potentially vascular changes.
Cortical spreading depression is a phenomenon present in a variety of neurological conditions. A triggering event, either electrical or mechanical, causes a disruption in the brains normal electric activity. Neurons power the brains signals, but in the case of cortical spreading depression, a wave of depolarization affects electric activity in the brain. Spreading depression can affect one or more regions of the brain.
Migraine auras may begin in the occipital lobe of the brain affecting vision then travel to areas of the brain that trigger headache pain.
More research is needed to learn exactly how cortical spreading depression and auras are related, but there are a number of triggers that have been linked to both this phenomenon and auras. An increase in these triggers could have the potential to increase the frequency of migraine with aura.
How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or A Sinus Headache
Many people confuse a sinus headache with a migraine because pain and pressure in the sinuses, nasal congestion, and watery eyes often occur with migraine. To find out if your headache is sinus or migraine, ask yourself these questions:
In addition to my sinus symptoms, do I have:
If you answer yes to two or three of these questions, then most likely you have migraine with sinus symptoms. A true sinus headache is rare and usually occurs due to sinus infection. In a sinus infection, you would also likely have a fever and thick nasal secretions that are yellow, green, or blood-tinged. A sinus headache should go away with treatment of the sinus infection.
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Treating Migraines With Aura
The treatment for migraine with aura is the same as for migraine without aura. It is generally recommended to take your migraine medication at the first sign of migraine symptoms. These could include over-the-counter painkillers or prescription drugs such as triptans or dihydroergotamines.6
Sometimes you may need a combination of drugs for effective pain relief. For example, Excedrin Migraine is a doctor-recommended, over-the-counter remedy combining acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine that helps stop migraine pain quickly. You may also require anti-nausea drugs if your migraine symptoms include nausea or vomiting. These can also help you keep down your other medicines.6
Many people find it helps to wait out the migraine in a dim, quiet room, away from obtrusive lights and sounds. You could also try placing an ice pack or cool, damp cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck for a soothing effect.6
In addition to pain-relieving medications designed to stop migraine symptoms once they start, your doctor may recommend you take preventative drugs to try to reduce your migraine frequency and severity overtime. These take longer to take effect, but can be useful if short-term, acute treatments are not working.6 Talk to your doctor about your migraines and treatment options.
Read more about treatment options for migraines.
Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like
A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.
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Can I Have A Visual Migraine Without A Headache
Definitely. It is actually very common to have a visual migraine without any headache. The medical term for this is acephalgic migraine, which literally means migraine symptoms without headache. Except for the absence of a headache, the visual symptoms in acephalgic migraine are identical to the episodes that accompany a classic migraine aura.
I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated
Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.
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How Is Migraine Diagnosed
Theres no single test that can lead to a diagnosis of migraine. Rather, your doctor will take your medical history, as well as obtain your family history of migraine, and perform a physical and neurological exam. Your healthcare provider may order certain blood tests and imaging tests to rule out other causes of headache. Keep a detailed log of your symptoms to help with diagnosis.
Common Visual Disturbances Include:
- Distortions in the size & shape of objects.
- Vibrating visual field.
- Shimmering pulsating patches or curves.`
Other aura sensations include:
- Abdominal symptoms such as nausea or a rising sensation in the stomach.
- Sudden anxiety or fear.
- Feeling separated from your body.
- Sensation of limbs or teeth growing.
- Feeling overheated.
- Confusion, reduced mental cognition, forgetting common words or how to do simple tasks.
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What You Can Do
- Keep track of your symptoms. Keep a headache diary by writing a description of each incident of visual disturbances or unusual sensations, including when they occurred, how long they lasted and what triggered them. A headache diary can help your doctor diagnose your condition and track your progress in between visits.
- Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
- Write down a list of questions to ask your doctor.
For migraine with aura, some questions to ask your doctor include:
- What’s the likely cause of my symptoms?
- What tests, if any, do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What treatments are available? Which do you recommend?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there dietary restrictions I need to follow?
- Are there written materials I can take with me or websites you recommend?
Don’t hesitate to ask other questions you have.
Are There Different Types Of Migraine Attacks
There are several other types of migraine that involve neurological symptoms besides pain, such as:
- Migraine with brain stem aura. A rare type of migraine in which aura symptoms originate in the brain stem. Symptoms can include vertigo, ringing in the ears, and speech problems.
- Hemiplegic migraine. A migraine that occurs with an aura that includes one-sided weakness as well as numbness and tingling. It can occur with or without migraine pain.
- Vestibular migraine. A condition that includes sudden onset of vertigo, disorientation, and balance issues. Many people who experience vestibular migraine have no history of headaches.
- Retinal migraine. A type of migraine in which the aura causes you to lose vision in one eye.
You may also be diagnosed with chronic migraine if you experience migraine symptoms that occur 15 or more days in a month.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Migraine Auras
Migraines with aura affect different senses and bodily functions.
The main symptoms include:
- Visual symptoms: Visual symptoms are the most frequently reported. Up to 99% of people who experience migraine with aura report visual symptoms. These symptoms can include seeing black dots, flashes of light, blind spots, and zigzag lines, or things may appear closer or farther away than they actually are.
- Sensory symptoms: Sensory symptoms include feeling numbness or tingling anywhere on the body, particularly the face, hands, and fingers.
- Speech and language symptoms: Speech and language symptoms include slurred speech, inability to form words, mumbling, and difficulty speaking.
- Motor weakness: In some instances, motor weakness will occur. This may appear as muscle weakness or even temporary paralysis on one side of the body. This type of migraine aura is known as a hemiplegic migraine.
There are also general symptoms that both migraines and migraines with aura share.
The typical symptoms of migraine include:
- Throbbing or pulsing pain in the head
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Signs and symptoms of migraine auras vary widely among the people who experience them, and even from one attack to the next.
What Is A Migraine Aura And Are They Dangerous
Migraines fall into two basic categories: migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
Aura typically is benign in the sense that there is no pain attached to the aura itself. Its a visual event, a precursor to something much worse, says Cathy Glaser, executive director of the Migraine Research Foundation.
The aura is actually during the migraine, but its before the other symptoms come,” Glaser adds. “You may feel a little off, and then you get the aura and you know youre getting a migraine, but you dont know how bad its going to be.
A migraine that begins with head pain is called migraine without aura.
The majority of migraine sufferers do not experience an aura beforehand, so they receive no early warning of the impending headache until the pain begins.
Migraine aura can be dangerous for a couple of reasons.Firstly, migraine aura can be a sign of restricted blood supply to brain cells and in rare cases the symptoms of a migraine with aura are the same as a transient ischemic attack .
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What Are The Preventive Treatments For Migraine
Many patients with isolated visual migraines, without severe headaches, have relatively infrequent episodes that do not require specific preventive treatments. If a patient is aware of the particular triggers that seem to bring on an episode, then those triggers can be avoided.
In patients where the pattern of migraines includes frequent, severe headaches, it is very reasonable to consider additional preventive treatments. The main goal for any of these strategies is to reduce the overall frequency and severity of the headaches. None of the preventive treatments is a magic bullet that is 100% effective. For example, it would be considered successful if a preventive treatment helped reduce the number of severe headaches from 8 per month to 2-4 per month.
There are numerous medications that can be used as a preventive treatment for migraine. One medication that is used commonly, particularly because it has no side effects, is vitamin B2 . Approximately 100mg of riboflavin daily is thought to improve migraine headaches . One common side effect of riboflavin is that the urine turns bright yellow. Other herbal medications used to reduce migraine headaches include petasites and feverfew.
What Is A Migraine
A migraine is a type of headache with symptoms like a severe and throbbing headache on one side of the head accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, numbness or tingling in the extremities or face, sensitivity to light and sound, touch and smell.
Some people with migraines experience an aura before the head pain starts. Migraine aura symptoms include visual disturbances ocular migraine), water retention, problems sleeping, appetite changes, and irritability.
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Ocular Migraine Triggers And Treatments
Triggers of ocular migraines can include caffeine, chocolate, red wine, blue cheese, nuts, and processed meats. Stress or release of tension, bright lights, and exercise can also be triggers.
Treatments are often unnecessary because the visual disturbance only lasts for a short time, and the headaches arent severe. Some people find that taking an aspirin at the onset of their symptoms can prevent the headache altogether. While caffeine can cause eye migraines in some people, for others sipping a small amount of a caffeinated beverage can stop the symptoms.
It is important to stop driving if you experience any visual effects. If these symptoms last more than an hour, this can be a sign of something more serious, and you should seek medical attention immediately.
Migraine With Aura Symptoms
And it often will start little. Just almost like a little flickering or almost kaleidoscopic, and then it will build up and grow. And what some people think is something is wrong with their eye, but really its happening in the brain, and if they cover the eye that they think has it, they can still see the little zig-zaggy lines or spots on the page in the other eye.
So we know that its coming from the brain. We know also, or we think we know, that it is triggered by cortical spreading depression. When theyve done experiments looking at the brain and the slow waves that travel in the brain, the speed with which that slow wave travels corresponds a lot with the aura and scientists have figured that out.
The aura frequently will come before the headache and then the person will have a headache. Sometimes its on the opposite side to the visual symptoms, sometimes its on both sides, and then the headache can be indiscernible from a migraine without aura. But an aura is a discreet neurologic event, usually visual.
There are other types of auras, such as dizziness or vertigo auras, or numbness around the face and hand followed by a headache, but the visual aura is the most common.
Peripheral movement in the visual field will sometimes even trigger a migraine. Bright lights could trigger a migraine. People with migraine, in general, are very visually sensitive people.
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Coeliac Disease And Gluten Sensitivity
Coeliac disease is a serious condition where a persons immune system reacts when they eat gluten and causes damage to the lining of their gut. When this happens, they have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting and stomach cramps. There can also be serious complications if it is not treated, such as anaemia. There is no cure for coeliac disease and people with it need to avoid gluten all their life.
There have been studies into the link between coeliac disease and migraine. There is no evidence to suggest that coeliac disease causes migraine. It is thought that if people with coeliac disease and migraine follow a gluten-free diet, this may help with both of their conditions.
Gluten sensitivity is when a person has a bad reaction if they eat gluten. They may have similar symptoms to coeliac disease, but there is no damage to the lining of their gut or the risk of serious complications that can happen with coeliac disease.
Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. These include pasta, bread, cakes, some sauces and most ready meals.
One of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is headache. But there is no evidence that gluten sensitivity causes migraine. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that if you eat food containing gluten, it makes migraine attacks more likely or the symptoms more painful.
Migraine As A Risk Factor For Ischaemic Cerebrovascular Disorders
The risk of developing CSD after microembolisation partly depends on the location, size, and duration of vascular occlusion
Although some microemboli can traverse the brain microcirculation without pathophysiological consequence , other microemboli can transiently occlude the circulation to a critical volume of tissue to initiate CSD followed by recovery more prolonged occlusion will cause tissue microinfarction. CSD=cortical spreading depression.
The small size and territorial distribution of these microinfarcts provide information about their potential source and pathophysiology. In a systematic analysis of the topographical details of these parenchymal defects, Kruit and colleagues found that more than 90% of the infarct-like lesions were located in the deep arterial border zone areas of the cerebellum. If implicated, CSD might directly decrease the cerebral perfusion pressure and blood flow and increase the ischaemic burden by slowing the clearance of occluding particles. Additional mechanisms noted above might also contribute, including the release of procoagulant factors and enhanced susceptibility to platelet aggregation,, decreased endothelium-dependent relaxation, and increased oxidative stress and inflammation of the vessel wall.
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