Migraine Aura

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A migraine aura is a warning sign of an oncoming migraine headache. An aura develops gradually, usually within 30 minutes before a migraine headache starts, and consists of 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.

Current as of: February 20, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology