Migraine Aura Without Headache
Aura is a sensory disturbance that can occur before a migraine headache. A person may see flashing lights, zigzag lines, or colored spots. In some cases, people experience aura without a headache. This is known as silent migraine.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, around 2530% of people with migraine experience aura. The symptoms usually last anywhere from 560 minutes and can precede a headache or occur on their own.
This article will cover common questions surrounding the migraine aura experience, including how and whether symptoms are associated with headaches, what a silent migraine feels like, and more.
Yes, some people experience migraine aura without a headache. This is known as silent migraine. In the past, doctors called it acephalgic migraine.
Aura refers to a group of sensory disturbances that occur at the start of a migraine episode. These disturbances develop slowly over several minutes and can last 560 minutes in total. From this point, they usually fade away as the migraine headache begins.
However, in some cases, no headache develops. With silent migraine, a person may experience nausea, light sensitivity, and other migraine symptoms, but no pain.
It is important to note that the symptoms of silent migraine can overlap with the symptoms of a stroke. If a person has any of the following, seek immediate medical attention:
- sensory disturbances that occur suddenly
When Should I Be Concerned About Visual Disturbances
If you experience a sudden change in your vision, such as an increase in the severity, length, or symptoms of your visual disturbances, you should see a doctor immediately. If your symptoms seem radically different, you should be especially concerned. Stroke symptoms can sometimes be confused with those of a migraine.
How Do You Diagnose Auras
Since auras can cause such a broad range of systems, and sometimes donât even give you a headache, itâs no wonder that itâs not easy to get the right diagnosis.
Thatâs why itâs so important to speak to a doctor who understands migraines and can recognize symptoms that are easy to mistake for other conditions.
If you think you might have migraines with aura, it can be helpful to keep a headache diary.
We recommend taking note of:
- When your migraine started
- Which medications you used to alleviate the pain
- What triggers you think were involved in your attack
A doctor can’t really see your migraine symptoms, so keeping a record can make it easier for them to tell whatâs going on, and help you get diagnosed and treated faster.
Also Check: Cream Of Tarter For Migraines
Are They Treated Differently
Not really. Experts aren’t sure what causes auras, so there’s nothing special you can do about them. It’s about treating the migraine symptoms and preventing more attacks.
To ease migraine symptoms:
- Stay in a quiet, dark room.
- Put cold compresses or pressure on the painful areas.
- Take pain-relieving medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketorolac, or naproxen. People under the age of 19 should not take aspirin.
- Use prescription drugs, such as almotriptan , eletriptan , frovatriptan , lasmiditan , naratriptan , rizatriptan , and sumatriptan , which help narrow blood vessels.
- Ergots and gepants may also ease migraine pain.
- Use medications to treat other migraine symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
To prevent migraines:
Medications. If other treatments donât work and you have 4 or more migraine days a month, your doctor may suggest preventive medicines. You take these regularly to make headaches less severe or less frequent. They include seizure medicines, blood pressure medicines , and some antidepressants. CGRP inhibitors are a new class of preventive medicine that your doctor may recommend if other medicines donât help.
Keep a headache diary. It will help you spot things that might trigger your migraines. Diary entries should include things like the date and time of your headache, any foods you had eaten, what you did, and medication you took just before the headache began. It may take 6 to 8 weeks or longer to begin to see patterns and triggers.
How To Cope With Auras
When aura symptoms strike, head to the nearest dark and quiet room, get comfy, and close your eyes. Placing a cool compress or an icepack wrapped in a towel on your forehead can help soothe any discomfort and possible reduce subsequent migraine pain. To lower your odds of an aura happening in the first place, its important to maintain a consistent routine. A migraine brain likes things to be as regular as possible, Dr. Diamond says. Sleep, eat, hydrate, and exercise on a consistent schedule to help keep symptoms at bay.
Recommended Reading: Migraine Cream Of Tartar
How Is Migraine Aura Diagnosed
To rule out more serious conditions, such as a transient ischemic attack or mini stroke, your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination. They may also run certain tests to confirm your diagnosis. These tests may include:
- An eye exam. This test helps rule out any eye conditions that could be causing aura symptoms.
- A CT scan of your head. This scan takes detailed images of your brain.
- Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses magnets and radio waves to capture images of your tissues, organs and structures inside of your body.
Natural Care For Migraine Sufferers
Migraine solutions can be difficult to come by, especially those that utilize natural methods. Short-term relief is possible by addressing individual symptoms such as headache and nausea. But, when it comes to migraines, it is beneficial to dig a few layers deeper to understand what root causes are at play. The atlas vertebra, which is at the junction of the head and neck, can be a contributing factor to the abnormal neurological changes that occur during a migraine episode.
Many migraine sufferers have been choosing upper cervical chiropractic as part of their migraine care regimen. Upper cervical chiropractic care for those who experience migraines makes sense for several reasons:
Also Check: Painless Migraines Dizziness
Are Migraine Auras Dangerous
It isnt completely apparent whether a migraine aura poses a danger to those who experience it. If there is a restriction of blood supply to the areas of the brain impacted by an aura, it may potentially cause damage to those cells. Migraine sufferers may have an increased risk of developing changes to the white matter in the brain and a higher likelihood of experiencing a stroke. People who experience aura regularly during a migraine attack should stay aware of the presence of other signs of a migraine, as symptoms of a TIA can sometimes be confused with an aura.
Treating Migraine Aura Without Headache
When migraine aura without headache is frequent or severe, your doctor can recommend treatment options, such as low dose aspirin, calcium channel blockers or other medications.
My favorite treatment has been baby aspirin, if they dont have any contraindication for baby aspirin, says Dr. Digre. Calcium channel blockers often will treat aura without headache if its frequent.
For people who experience onset of migraine aura later in life, the symptoms can be very severe and last for several days. In that case, Dr. Digre usually prescribes a calcium channel blocker, but other medications can be used.
There arent any specific lifestyle adjustments to treat migraine aura without headache. However, taking steps like getting adequate sleep, decreasing stress and avoiding known migraine triggers may help prevent aura without headache.
The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundations subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. to read about our editorial board members.
Read Also: Migraine Side Effect
How Do You Treat Visual Aura
Migraine With Aura Treatment When youre having a migraine with aura, stay in a quiet, dark room. Try putting cold compresses or pressure on the painful areas. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen may help.
What Is A Migraine
A migraine is a headache with throbbing pain that is usually worse on one side of the head. The pain is often severe enough to hamper daily activities and may last from four hours to three days if untreated. More than one in 10 Americans, including one in 6 women, have migraines, but many have been told mistakenly that they have a sinus or tension headache. Foods, stress, and hormones can be migraine triggers.
Also Check: Migraine Gastric Stasis
What Is The Difference Between A Scotoma And A Visual Aura
With scintillating, or fortification, scotomas, the central scotoma is bordered by a crescent of shimmering zigzags. Visual auras or scotomas are not blur. A visual aura is a transient or longstanding visual perceptual disturbance experienced with migraine or seizure that may originate from the retina or the occipital cortex.
Treatment Options For Migraine With Aura
Your treatment options depend on how often you have attacks and how severe they are. It will also depend on other factors such as other illnesses you may have or medication that you take.
Generally, treatment for migraine includes:
- Acute treatment such as over the counter painkillers, migraine specific treatments and anti-sickness medication. These treatments aim to help manage the symptoms when an attack comes on. You do need to be careful not to take certain acute treatments too many days a month as this can cause medication overuse headache. Medication overuse can cause daily headaches with migraine symptoms.
- Preventive treatment such as beta-blockers, tricyclic antidepressants or anti-epilepsy drugs. These treatments aim to reduce how often you have migraine attacks and how bad they are. You take them every day and build them up to an effective dose. Some people need to try a range of treatments, or may be referred to a specialist if the treatments dont work for them.
Alongside the treatments many people benefit from reviewing whether lifestyle changes can help with their migraine attacks. This can include things like sticking to a routine, waking up at the same time each day, eating at similar times each day and staying hydrated. If there are factors such as alcohol or lack of sleep that seem to trigger your migraine attacks, there might be changes that you can make to help reduce how often you have attacks.
Don’t Miss: Narcotics For Headaches
Do I Need Different Tests
With any kind of migraine, your doctor may ask you things like:
- Do other people in your family have migraines or other kinds of headaches?
- Do you have any allergies?
- What is the level of stress in your life?
- Do you use medications such as birth control pills or vasodilators that could cause headaches?
- Do you notice that headaches start after coughing or sneezing or after intense exercise?
Theyâll do tests to check for other conditions that could cause your symptoms. You may have blood or imaging tests, like a CT or MRI.
Symptoms of a migraine with aura can look like a more serious condition, such as a stroke or a seizure. To rule those out, you may get some extra tests, including an eye exam. You might also be more likely to have imaging tests.
The first time you notice an aura, it’s important to get medical care right away to find out what’s going on.
Once you’ve made sure there are no other issues, you don’t need to see your doctor every time you have that same aura. But if your symptoms change, make sure to check in.
What Is Migraine Aura Without Headache
For most people, a headache follows the aura. But some people dont get the headache they just get the aura, says Dr. Digre. That is what is known as migraine aura without headache.
Migraine aura without headache is not very common. Only about 4% of people with migraine have aura without headache. It commonly occurs in two age groups: young adults in their 20s and 30s, and older adults between 40 and 60 years old.
People who have migraine with aura with headache, sometimes will lose their headache as they get older. So the headache part goes away, and the aura continues, says Dr. Digre. Almost 40% of people whove had migraine with aura in later life will get aura without headache.
Migraine aura without headache is sometimes referred to as ocular migraine, a common misnomer. Ocular migraine is not even in the International Classification Of Headache Disorders, explains Dr. Digre, It doesnt exist.
Don’t Miss: Sumatriptan For Back Pain
Are Migraine Auras Serious
Migraine with aura is repeated episodes of headache that occur during or after sensory disturbances . These disturbances may include symptoms such as flashes of light, blind spots, and other vision changes or tingling over the hand or face. Migraine aura is not in itself dangerous however, the symptoms of migraine aura can sometimes look and feel like other serious conditions such as a stroke. It is advisable to consult a doctor to rule out anything serious. Triggers and treatment of migraine with aura and migraine without aura are usually the same.
Migraine is a type of headache characterized by intense throbbing pain in the head or behind the eyes. Throbbing pain or pulsing sensation usually begins on one side of the head, in the forehead, or around the eyes. Headache is aggravated by sudden movement, physical activity, loud noise, or bright light. Migraine may occur once or twice a month or every day and is accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, giddiness, or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine pain normally lasts from 4 hours to 3 days and could be so severe that it may interfere with routine activities. The triggers, site of headache, severity, associated symptoms duration, and frequency of migraine episodes can vary from person to person. The symptoms of migraine aura also can vary from person to person. Migraines have a strong genetic predisposition and are usually more common in women than in men.
How Can I Treat Migraines Without Using Medicines
It is very important to remember that many of the most effective preventive treatments for migraines do not require any medications. Frequent aerobic exercise is an excellent example of an effective way to improve headaches. Other strategies may include better sleep habits, stress reduction, massage, yoga, and acupuncture.
Recommended Reading: Diarrhea With Migraine
Can A Persistent Aura Be A Sign Of A Stroke
Also, the persistent aura is not due to any problems with the brain, so a computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain will show no evidence of stroke as it would in another migraine complication, called migrainous infarction . Many people experience visual disturbances during an aura.
What Is Migraine Aura And Who Should Care
Migraine headaches are painful recurring headaches that affect more than 37 million Americans. Migraines can be severe. They can get in the way of:
Migraines are most common in women and people between the ages of 15 and 55. Many people also have a family history of migraines. And about 30% of people with migraines also experience aura. This is called migraine with aura, or a classic migraine.
About 30% of people with migraines have auras.
For some people, migraine aura may be a sign that headache pain is on the way. This can cue them to take medication. But it isnt just a warning sign for headache: People who have migraine with aura may also be at risk for other health conditions. Examples include stroke, cardiovascular disease, and mental health conditions.
Part of learning to live with migraines is understanding your patterns. Knowing what a normal migraine attack feels like for you can help you manage your symptoms. Understanding your attacks can also help you be confident that a migraine is just that, a migraine, and to know when your symptoms might be something more serious.
Also Check: Indica Or Sativa For Migraines
What About Ocular Optical & Ophthalmic Migraine
You might have heard about ocular migraine, optical migraine or even ophthalmic migraine. These are terms which may be used to describe your migraine condition by others but they are not formally recognized migraine classifications by the International Headache Society or the International Classification of Headache Disorders.
Often these are terms used by individuals or doctors who are not aware of the ICHD classifications . The terms are essentially translated to eye or eye-related migraines which isnt a particularly helpful diagnosis. The reality is many general doctors may not aware of the globally recognized standard of migraine classifications.
There is no classification for ocular, optical or ophthalmic migraine under the current ICHD-3. When someone claims they have an ocular, optical or ophthalmic migraine, then sees a qualified doctor to get an official ICHD diagnosis it is likely to fall into one of the four types of migraine with aura discussed above.
Which type of migraine with aura will depend on the symptoms experienced and diagnosis from your doctor. Below is a symptom & classification table to help you get a headstart.
What Causes Ocular Migraine
Migraine aura is considered to be a result of abnormal electrical activity involving certain regions of the cortex of the brain. This abnormal activity spreads across the cortex at a slow rate of about 3mm per minute and this spread is responsible for the growth and movement of the visual disturbance over the 20-60 minutes that the visual aura lasts. Retinal migraine may be due to the same type of disturbance except occurring at the back of the eye in the retina, or it may be due to a reduction in blood flow to the retina.
Like other types of migraine, harsh lights and electronic screens can be triggers. Straining your eyes by staring at a screen for long periods of time, spending time in fluorescent or other harsh lighting, driving long distances and other taxing visual activities can increase your risk for attacks. Talk to your eye doctor about how to avoid attacks.
Recommended Reading: Migraine Postdrome Duration