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Migraine with Aura: Recognizing the Risks and Dangers

Experiencing a Migraine with Aura (MWA) can be unnerving especially if you’re experiencing this all for the first time. Many people who suffer from migraines are familiar with this early warning signal that tells them that a headache is coming within twenty minutes to an hour upon the onset of the aura phase. People with MWA usually take painkillers or prescription migraine medication during this time in an attempt to stop the headache from occurring. People who experience this aura phase before a migraine episode report feeling visual and other sensory disturbances that can last for 60 minutes or less. These disturbances include seeing bright spots, flashing lights, and wavy lines passing through their field of vision. Other symptoms of the aura phase include a tingling sensation or numbness in the hands and face, as well as weakening of the muscles, and at times, slurred speech. It is also possible to experience the aura phase without actually developing a migraine. This is what experts call a painless migraine.

What are the Risks and Dangers of Migraine with Aura?

Many people who have been diagnosed with Migraine with Aura rely on the aura phase to tell them to take their medications right away to prevent a migraine from happening or at least to lessen the impact of the headache. Some people, though, have questioned the occurrence of this aura phase and have raised a very valid concern. Are the auras that precede the migraine dangerous in any way?

Most scientists believe that the auras are harmless. Their studies have shown that the aura is caused by electrical impulses in the brain that are stimulated prior to a migraine headache and those who experience the aura phase simply have more sensitive nerves than those who don’t experience it. On the other hand, other experts believe that there is a connection between auras and lesions in the brain, cardiovascular problems, and stroke. Studies have been done to prove these connections; however, there have been no solid conclusions made so far as to whether or not people who experience auras with their migraines are at risk for any of these three serious conditions.

Migraine with Aura Treatment and Prevention

Aside from the visual and neurological disturbances felt by Migraine with Aura patients prior to the actual migraine episode, MWA is treated just like any other migraine headache. Mild headaches can be treated with analgesics like acetaminophen NSAIDs which can easily be bought over the counter. People with chronic migraines can also get a prescription from their doctors for particular migraine medications that help constrict the blood vessels in the head. In cases where the migraine is accompanied by nausea and vomiting, an antiemetic can be taken to relieve these symptoms. It is also recommended to avoid bright lights and to stay in a room with dim lighting during the headache episode.

Doctors can prescribe preventive medication such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antihistamines, beta blockers and ergot derivatives depending on the particular migraine triggers their patients seem to have. It is also important for patients suffering from chronic migraines to avoid food triggers commonly associated with migraines to prevent them from occurring as often as they do.

Migraine headaches are not life threatening but they can be severely debilitating at times. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of migraine or migraine with aura, consult your doctor or a headache specialist immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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