At the tender age of 11, I started to notice that every so often my vision suddenly changed and the world around me was odd. After years of countless scans and tests, I was finally diagnosed with the condition of migraines with aura.
What are Migraines with Aura?
Migraine sufferers will know that a migraine is an intense headache. Often involving pain and extreme sensitivity to light. Migraines with aura are slightly different, with only 15% of migraine sufferers experiencing aura, it is still a relatively unknown and confusing medical area. Aura is described as the cortex area of the brain making changes to sight, sound, speech and sometimes movement. Many professionals still don’t know specifically what causes aura and why it occurs. Sufferers however, are advised to take ‘Triptan’ tablets which shrink the blood vessels in the brain to reduce the headache but unfortunately the aura cannot be treated and rarely prevented.
The most common symptom of aura is the loss of sight, fuzzy sight, zig-zags appearing in the field of vision and dark spots. Other symptoms may also be present, such as slurring your words, not being able to concentrate and partial paralysis.
During an attack, the aura part of the migraine feels very strange. In my personal experience I become partially sighted, dark spots appear meaning what little I am able to see is very blurry. It makes you feel disorientated and almost spaced out.
Here is an example of what some migraine with aura sufferers see during an attack.
Getting a diagnosis was particularly hard for myself, I had to undergo a string of MRI and brain scans to rule out anything more serious. After a long chat with my GP I was finally diagnosed as having migraines with aura. To get a more straightforward diagnosis, I would suggest keeping a ‘migraine diary’: consisting of how many attacks, what the attacks are like and what you had to eat before the attack. This helps determine if there are any triggers to your migraines. My triggers were unfortunately….. cheese, chocolate and wine (I was very disappointed with that one).
In terms of treatment, migraines can not be cured but only eased and prevented. There are a variety of migraine tablets in different strengths including prescription tablets such as Sumatriptan and more softer over the counter drugs such as Ibuprofen. Alternative treatments for migraines can be a wonderful thing to try with positive outcomes. I decided to cut out most dairy products in my diet, however, other alternative treatments such as herbal remedies may be a good option for some.
Acupuncture is also a great method to try if the migraines just get too much, as well as being very calming it also helps to relax the vessels in the brain which can ease and prevent migraines.
Another tip to ease migraines is to wear glasses if you need them. I try to always wear my glasses during an attack as it can ease the strain on my eyes and lessen the migraine. As soon as I feel my sight starting to become strange, I take some painkillers and rest for a while in an attempt not to provoke an attack. Here is an example of how I would see a person during an aura attack. Strange light and dark spots appear and the field of vision becomes blurry.
In conclusion, aura can come in all different forms, from crazy zig-zags lines to mostly blurred vision. My advice as a sufferer would be to consult a doctor and take preventative medication. Another important piece of advice is to always attend regular eye tests and if you need glasses, wear them during an attack as it really does help reduce the strain.