Aura is one of the stages that migraine symptoms sometimes go through. It often includes visual disturbances, such as seeing flashing lights or zig zags in front of your eyes. It usually occurs just a few minutes before the full blown headache hits, although some people do get these symptoms with no actual headache to follow. The other pre-headache stage is called the prodrome, which comes first. After the prodrome is the aura, then the headache itself, then the resolution and the postdrome.Back to A
Only about 15% of migraineurs experience aura. Some people may experience buzzing sounds or other sensations. People with epilepsy sometimes experience similar early symptoms.
Migraine with aura as a class seems to have some differences from migraine without, although these differences are still being researched. For example, migraineurs that experience auras are at far more risk of stroke than migraineurs who don't, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. This may give us further clues into the working of migraine and how to stop it.
The causes are still unclear. It has been suggested that decreased blow flow and so decreased oxygen to the brain may play a role. Recently it has been suggested that an over-excitement of the brain cells may be a part of the chain reaction.
Read this article for more on the prodromal and aura stages of migraine.
This article gives an overview of common migraine symptoms.
References: What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Migraines, Drs Mauskop and Fox; MedicineNet MedTerms dictionary 1999; WebMD article by Jennifer Warner, 2002