What are migraines with aura?

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?

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