The Types Of Migraine Auras Explained

A migraine isn't just a typical headache — it's actually a neurological disease with different types, stages, and symptoms (via American Migraine Foundation). While it can include a throbbing headache, a migraine can also include symptoms like sensitivity to sound and light, nausea, tingling, and even temporary vision loss.

In some cases, a migraine is accompanied by an aura, which is a collection of symptoms that can affect your body, speech, and senses. It's usually a warning that a migraine is coming on, and can even be mistaken for a stroke, per WebMD.

Auras can be scary, but if you're prone to migraines, knowing about auras ahead of time can help you become aware of an oncoming migraine and make a plan for managing symptoms. About 25-30% of people with migraines will also experience an aura, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

Auras usually last about 20-60 minutes, and can include odd symptoms like being unable to speak clearly, feeling tingly on one side of your body, and seeing zig-zags, sparks, and bright dots in your vision. For those who do experience them, auras don't necessarily happen with every migraine, which makes them especially interesting to doctors and researchers.

A migraine aura is thought to be caused by an electrical wave that runs through the brain (via Mayo Clinic). The part of the brain where the electrical wave takes place determines what type of aura you'll experience.

The three kinds of migraine auras and how to treat them

There are actually three different kinds of migraine auras, the most common kind being a visual aura, according to Healthline. Up to 99% of all auras affect vision and therefore qualify as visual auras. While they're common, visual auras can bring on a wide array of symptoms, such as foggy vision, blind spots, flashes of bright light, and feeling like you're seeing underwater.

Another type of aura is a dysphasic aura, which only occurs in about 10% of all auras. This type of aura affects your speech and language, bringing on symptoms like mumbling, slurred speech, and having trouble forming the right words.

Lastly, slightly more than one-third of all auras are sensory auras, which create sensory disturbances. These can cause feelings of pins and needles in your body or tingling in one arm, which can travel upwards into the face, tongue, or lips.

Typically, an aura acts like a warning sign of a migraine (per American Migraine Foundation). While there's no cure for migraines, which can be chronic, taking medication at the first indicator of a migraine is important for reducing symptoms, notes the Mayo Clinic.

Pain relievers like Excedrin Migraine and Advil Migraine can help treat pain. There are also prescription medications that can help prevent migraines from occurring that are taken on a regular basis. Alternative treatments include lying in a dark room, putting a cold compress on your forehead, scalp massage, and relaxation techniques.