Migraine is a chronic headache that comes and goes throughout life. According to this study, it affects about 15% to 18% of the adult population, mainly women. Around 37% of women in the U.S suffer from migraine. Migraine with aura is a headache accompanied by some transient neurological symptoms that affect about 25 to 30% of people with migraines as stated by the American Migraine Foundation.
What is a migraine with aura?
Migraine with aura or classic migraine is a headache with some sensory disturbances called the aura. Aura symptoms are warning signs because they occur right before or sometimes during headaches. Aura symptoms include seeing sparks, dots, or zigzags, tingling in your hands, and sometimes blurred speech.
The migraine symptoms with aura include visual symptoms and other sensory disturbances that last between 30 to 60 minutes before headache. Some people experience aura symptoms without headaches, especially those over 50 years.
Other sensory disturbances:
Migraine with aura is common among women. They experience headache and aura symptoms, Including visual disturbance, tingling, and numbness.
There is no apparent reason for migraine with aura. However, many hypotheses explain the process. Additionally, causes of migraine could be possible reasons for migraine with aura.
High brain potassium levels
A study published in the journal of headache and face pain suggested that high brain potassium levels cause constriction of brain arterioles leading to migraine with aura. When potassium outside brain cortical cells reaches 20 mm, neurons release more potassium distributed preferentially toward the blood vessels in the area. Thus, causing vasoconstriction that reduces blood supply and removal of potassium in the blood, so regulation of potassium is impaired. The higher the potassium levels, the more intense vasoconstriction leads to migraine with aura.
Abnormal brain changes and genetics
The Office of Women’s Health mentioned that migraine occurs when some abnormal brain changes result in inflammation. Then inflammation causes swelling of brain blood vessels that pressure some nerves causing a headache.
Moreover, genes may play a role as a person with a family history is more vulnerable to migraine than those who do not.
Estrogen fluctuation plays a critical role in having migraine. When estrogen levels drop, migraine headache occurs. For instance, before menstruation, women are more likely to have migraine due to the drop in estrogen. Furthermore, in pregnancy, women experience improvement in migraine attacks due to high estrogen levels. However, they may suffer from the attacks again postpartum. While pre-menopause, the headaches may become frequent due to the rise and fall in hormones levels until menopause when most women experience improvement and fewer migraine attacks.
Underlying health condition
Some medical health conditions, especially in people over 50, may cause migraine with or without aura, for instance,
Causes of migraine with aura are still unknown. However, possible causes include high brain potassium levels, hormonal changes, genetics, and underlying health conditions.
Triggers of migraine with aura
Triggers are factors that may cause more frequent migraine with aura attacks, including:
Complications of migraine with aura
Hormonal contraceptives and migraine with aura
A study published in Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology mentioned that women with migraines aura who use combined estrogen-progesterone contraceptives are at high risk of ischemic stroke. That is why The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the World Health Organization set some conditions for women with migraines who would use hormonal contraceptives, including:
However, the International Headache Society Task Force stated that women with migraines aura could use hormonal contraceptives under doctor supervision. It differs between someone to another.
Triggers of migraine with aura are caffeine, alcohol, stress, and sleep disturbances. Women who suffer migraine with aura are at high risk of stroke and cardiovascular death. There are conflicting opinions regarding using hormonal contraceptives for women with migraine aura so consult your doctor.
The diagnosis depends on your signs, family and medical history, and physical examination. Moreover, the doctor would recommend some tests if you have aura without headache to rule out other health conditions. Examples of such tests:
Treatment depends on relieving the pain by some medications. Take medicine when you feel the first sign of the attack. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor before going for these medications, as some of them may be contraindicated. Medications that are used include:
Some medications achieve the prevention of migraine with aura and lifestyle changes.
Some minor changes in your life can minimize the frequency of migraine with aura, for instance,
** These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
**Prescription drugs noted in this article are provided by research and are in no way associated with M.O.O.