A lot of people experience severe and disabling headache with aura, also known as migraine.
The cause of it is still unknown but several factors can trigger the onset of migraine or sometimes called a headache with aura. Some of the factors include stress and exposure to caffeine and alcohol among others. Different people experience migraine attacks differently since these headaches can occur with or without warning signs.
Lucky are those people who have migraines that have warning signs before actually occurring because they can take medicines for prevention. This type of migraine is also known as headache with aura. A headache with aura is characterized by seeing flashes of light, blind spots, and/or patterns before the headache itself. It can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness or tingling in other parts of the body.
Generally the aura of a headache with aura occurs about 15 to 20 minutes before the headache pain actually begins and lasts up to 25 minutes before it goes away. There are also instances wherein an aura is seen without a headache accompanying it.
The aura seen is believed to be a chemical wave that moves across the visual cortex of the brain which processes visual signals. The visual hallucinations are the effect of the spreading of the wave.
In detail, the symptoms of a headache with aura include shimmering and bright spots, floating zigzag lines, blurred vision or loss of it, scotomas or blind spots, and flashes of light. As mentioned, numbness and tingling can accompany this type of headache. Dizziness and speech difficulty can also accompany a headache with aura.
Seeing an aura will not necessarily classify the condition as headache with aura. When you experience the symptoms mentioned above, it is best for you to consult your medical practitioners because these can be an indication of a stroke or retinal tear.
Once your doctor has ruled out these more serious conditions and classifies your headache as migraine, he will now be able to give you a prescription for pain relief. However, it is still important to note that people who have migraine with aura have a greater risk for a stroke.
This also holds true for women who smoke, use contraceptive pills, and have high blood pressure. Also, people who have a family history of migraine often have a higher risk for developing this condition.
If you suffer from headache with aura, there are several over-the-counter drugs that can be taken to relieve the pain. These drugs are commonly called NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Strong headaches with aura can only be treated by your doctor. He can get you a presciption drug (usually a member of the triptane family) which usually helps to eliminate the pain fast.
But certainly, the best way to prevent migraine from occurring is avoidance of the factors that can trigger it.
And since the trigger factors can be different for each person, it would be wise to keep a headache journal to take note when the headache occurred and what was the factor that triggered its occurrence. In this way, you will be able to identify your trigger factors and will end up avoiding them.