What is aura?

Migraine aura

A migraine aura is a warning sign of an oncoming migraine headache. An aura develops gradually. It often begins within 30 minutes before a migraine headache starts. But it can also occur during the headache for some people. It causes short-term symptoms like visual disturbances and physical sensations.

Not everyone who suffers from migraines develops an aura. For those who do, common symptoms of a migraine aura include:

  • Visual changes. For example:
    • Zigzag or wavy lines
    • Flashes or sparks of bright or colored lights
    • Slowly spreading spots
    • Distortions in the shape or size of objects
    • Blind or dark spots in the field of vision
  • Numbness or a "pins-and-needles" sensation in one hand or the other.

Other, less common symptoms of a migraine aura can occur, including:

  • Tingling or numbness around the mouth and nose or in the arms or shoulders.
  • Temporary weakness on one side of the body.
  • Brief inability to put words in the proper order, or difficulty finding the right words.

What are the symptoms of an aura?

The symptoms of an aura may include:

  • Visual changes. Examples include:
    • Bright lights.
    • Zigzag lines.
    • Slowly spreading spots.
    • Distortions in the size or shape of objects.
    • Blind or dark spots in the field of vision.
  • Hearing voices or sounds (auditory hallucinations).
  • Strange smells (olfactory hallucinations).
  • Feelings of numbness or tingling on one side of your face or body.
  • Feeling separated from your body.
  • Anxiety or fear.
  • Nausea.

What is an aura?

Aura is the term used to describe symptoms that may occur before a seizure.

An aura is often the first sign that you are going to have a seizure. You may have an aura from several seconds up to 60 minutes before a seizure. Most people who have auras have the same type of aura every time they have a seizure.

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