- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Weird Stuff That Happens With Full Aura Migraines
The first time I had a full aura migraine, I was about eight years old and had no idea what was going on. I looked at one of our cats and gasped – he was missing an eye! I quickly told my mother, but then realized that I was wrong; the cat wasn’t missing his eye. I just couldn’t see it. I had a blind spot. How weird. Then I went outside to water the garden, and while I was outside, my arm started tingling and feeling weird. Then it moved to my face. I went inside and told my mother about my new symptoms, and she had my grandparents rush me to the pediatrician, convinced I was suffering or about to suffer from a stroke. My pediatrician didn’t seem worried – he told me I was hyperventilating and sent me home. Within a few minutes of arriving home, I was hit with the most severe headache I’d ever had and hid in a darkened room. Lucky for me, my father also had migraines, and he recognized what had happened. I remember him getting home from work, then I threw up and felt much better. Needless to say, I’m not very fond of migraines, but I am rather used to them.
What's a Migraine?
What is an “aura”?
When you refer to a migraine with an aura, the aura is the accompanying symptoms that do not include the headache. Auras can vary from person to person, but they may include symptoms such as numbness, tingling, vision disturbances, aphasia, and nausea and vomiting. Auras normally last anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, but everyone is different.
Before you get your headache, you may suffer from numbness in various body parts. For me, this numbness often moves around, and it may be localized on one side of the body or not. In a recent migraine, I had numbness that began in my arm, moved to my nose, moved to my ear, and then finally moved to my mouth and teeth. (Yes, your teeth can feel numb – and it’s very weird!) The difference between this and the feeling of a limb going to sleep is that when a limb goes to sleep, you generally can try to make it “wake up.” With numbness from an aura, you may just have to suffer through it.
This often goes along with the numbness. It’s the feeling that something is waking up that fell asleep, but it comes without the body part going number first. I often get tingling at the tip of my nose when I’m getting a migraine.
Vision disturbances can be part of a migraine or they can be the migraine. In some cases, people may suffer from “ocular migraines,” in which case the only symptom they get will be the vision disturbances. These visual disturbances can include tunnel vision, wavy lines, and blind spots. When you get wavy lines, they are often black and white and they may move. The pattern is generally a zig-zag pattern. The most unpleasant part of this symptom, in my opinion, is that even when you close your eyes, you still see the visual disturbances!
A Migraine and a Stroke: What's the Difference?
This is a very rare part of an aura, but it can and does happen. With aphasia, the person with the migraine can have three different effects: 1. They may find that they are unable to say the correct word they are thinking of, and they know that they are saying the wrong word. 2. They may find that they cannot say the correct word, but they think they are saying the right word. 3. They may find that they do not understand what other people say and cannot communicate themselves, either. In all cases, writing may be affected as well, making communication during aphasia extremely difficult. Slowing down and breathing can help the person with aphasia to concentrate and produce the right word, but only if they are aware that the word they are using is the wrong one.
Nausea and Vomiting
Unfortunately, this is a very common part of migraines. While some people may vomit after the migraine or as part of the conclusion of the migraine, other people will begin throwing up when the migraine begins. Other people may just have nausea that begins with the aura and lasts for the duration of the migraine.
Seeing a Neurologist
If you have never had a migraine before, or if you have had migraines before but not with auras and suddenly you begin having aura-like symptoms, you will want to see a doctor. Neurologists may be able to help you by prescribing medication to help stop the migraine symptoms and headaches, and they may also send you for tests, such as MRIs, to be sure that you do not have any other neurological issues that are contributing factors.
Warnings about Migraine Symptoms
If you have any neurological symptoms that you think are part of a migraine but that you haven’t had before, call your doctor or 911 immediately! These symptoms are similar to those of strokes, and it is always best to be safe instead of sorry. The sooner you get treatment for a stroke, the better. Don’t delay – those symptoms are there to let you know a problem exists. Don’t ignore them!