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What Are the Symptoms of a Migraine With Aura? continued...

Headache is considered the symptom common to all types of migraines -- although a few children experience an aura without a headache. Migraine pain usually occurs in the front of the head on one or both sides of the temples. It may throb or be steady. The headache may last from four to 72 hours.

Other symptoms of migraine may include any of these:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • yawning
  • irritability
  • low blood pressure
  • feeling "hyper"
  • sensitivity to light, sounds, or motion
  • dark circles under the eyes

A migraine with aura comes with additional symptoms, which often begin about 30 minutes or less before the headache. These early symptoms are called a prodrome. The prodrome or aura may last for five to 20 minutes, or it may continue even after the headache subsides. Symptoms of aura include:

  • blind spots or scotomas
  • blindness in half of your visual field in one or both eyes (hemianopsia)
  • seeing zigzag patterns (fortification)
  • seeing flashing lights (scintilla)
  • feeling prickling skin (paresthesia)
  • weakness
  • seeing things that aren't really there (hallucinations)

How Is a Migraine With Aura Diagnosed?

Before determining treatment, your doctor will want to be sure that there are no other causes for your headache. So, it's likely the doctor will perform physical and perhaps neurologic exams. In addition, your doctor will ask you about your health history, including questions such as these:

  • Do other family members have migraines or other kinds of headaches?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • What is the level of stress in your life?
  • Do you use medications such as birth control pills or vasodilators that could cause headaches?
  • Do you exert yourself physically or notice that headaches start after coughing or sneezing?

Your doctor may also request these tests to be sure that the headache is not caused by other factors:

  • blood tests
  • imaging such as X-ray, CT scan, or MRI
  • checks for infection, bleeding, or other medical problems that could cause similar symptoms

How Is Migraine With Aura Treated?

If there are underlying causes for your headaches, your doctor will recommend treatment appropriate to the cause. If your headaches are determined to be migraines with aura, your treatment involves two goals: relieving symptoms and preventing future attacks. Lifestyle changes, medications, and even a magnetic device are available to help sufferers treat and prevent migraines with auras.