An aura is a warning sign that a headache is coming on. About 1 out of every 5 people who have migraines experience an aura before their headache starts. Usually the aura starts between 5 and 30 minutes before your head begins to hurt. The symptoms that warn you that a headache is coming on could be visual or sensory.
When you have a visual aura, you may:
- see wavy or jagged lines
- see flashing lights or dots
- see a starry circle surrounding your field of vision
- have blind spots in your vision
- have tunnel vision - where vision narrows at a distance
When your aura is sensory, you may:
- feel pins and needles up and down your arms and legs
- feel numbness in your face or extremities
- have trouble remembering certain things
- have trouble saying the word you're thinking of
Any of these symptoms could also be warning signs of a very serious health problem, so it's important that you talk with your doctor immediately.
To learn more about migraine headaches, see What is a migraine without aura?