Migraine Explained: What is an Aura?

Migraine Explained: What is an Aura?

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An Aura is a part of the Prodrome Phase (pre-migraine) of a Migraine. These are symptoms that include the most common visual aura can also include sensory and language disturbances. I want to look deeper into what these symptoms are and what they might also be warning you of.

What is a Visual Aura?

According to Mayo.com, a visual aura is:

  • an electrical or chemical wave that moves across the visual cortex of your brain.
  • The best known visual aura is called a fortification spectrum because its pattern resembles the walls of a medieval fort. It may start as a small hole of light or sometimes as bright geometrical lines and shapes in your visual field.This visual aura may expand into a sickle- or C-shaped object, with zigzag lines on the leading edge. As it moves, it may appear to grow.
  • May experience bright spots or flashes. Auras are sometimes accompanied by a partial loss of vision referred to as a scotoma.
  • Visual Aura commonly last 10 to 30 minutes.

What is a Sensory Aura?

A sensory aura most likely will happen along with the visual auras. Migraine.com describes it as:

  • Usually begins as a tingling in one limb or a feeling of numbness that travels up your arm
  • Can spread to one side of your face and tongue.
  • Usually lasts a few minutes up to an hour on average.
  • Just over one-tenth of migraine sufferers complain of sensory aura.
  • The most common symptoms include numbness, tingling and other “odd” sensations in the limbs, face or throughout the body.
  • Easy to mistake for other, more serious ailments such as stroke, transient ischemic attack or a partial seizure
  • Weakness on one side of the body may also suggest Hemiplegic Migraine.

What is a Verbal Aura?

Commonly called Dysphasic Aura or Transient Aphasia. You can read more about this type of Aura in a post that was I published recently.

Transient Aphasia – When the Words Won’t Come

Other Things You May not Know:

  • Usually precedes the migraine episode but can continue during the episode
  • Can also occur without an associated headache, this is called a Silent Migraine.
  • Can happen up to 2 days before a Migraine episode.

My Experience:

When I first started having migraine, I had just had my oldest child (now almost 22 years old). At first, my hand would go numb and then my arm then soon after I would have the “migraine headache”. I would get these a couple of times a year so it wasn’t a big issue for me.

A couple of times I would have episodes of having several of these in a row. The numbing and tingling started to become paralysis of the face and arm. Again, it only happened a few times per year so I wasn’t too concerned.

The Visual Aura started occurring about the birth of my 2nd child (now 19 years old) and included flashing bright lights and a decrease in my field of vision. Sometimes I would get this with no headache or no numbness.

Two and a half years ago, everything became a daily event. The flashing lights, blindness, loss of depth perception, transient aphasia and numbness and paralysis of the right arm and face. I was diagnosed with Hemiplegic Migraine in May of 2016.

While these auras are typically considered a good way to predict a coming migraine, my symptoms and the headache phases happen too close together so not much warning is given.


An Aura is a part of the Prodrome Phase (pre-migraine) of a Migraine. It can include Visual, Sensory and Language Auras. - #migraine #aura #migraineAura #visualaura #sensoryaura #dysphasicaura #transientaphasia #chronicmigraine #hemiplegicmigraineAn aura is an event that happens as part of the Prodome Migraine Phase but it can continue as the migraine progresses. This can include visual, sensory and language auras that will present in different ways. These are generally a good way to predict a coming migraine so that treatment can begin before the headache phase begins.

If you have migraines and at anytime experience a new aura symptom. you should seek immediate medical attention. It could indicate something more serious is taking place. Do not downplay your symptoms.

Note: I would love to put in a video of what a visual aura can look like but those can be a trigger for me as well as to other migraine warriors. If you are interested, go to YouTube and search for Migraine Aura and you will easily find plenty of examples.

Disclaimer: This blog post pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and my first hand accounts about a serious medical condition.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice.

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