19 Less Often Discussed Migraine Aura Symptoms
Aug 16, 2013 (updated Jan 7, 2014)
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When migraine aura is discussed, most people think of visual symptoms. The aura can be far more than that.
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The migraine aura can have a wide variety of symptoms, some quite surprising. Some of these symptoms are merely annoying, while others can be quite debilitating. Let's take a look at them...
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Aphasia is loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words. Aphasia can range from having difficulty finding the right words to being totally unable to speak intelligibly, write, or read. One of the most public examples of aphasia occurred when reporter Serene Branson had sudden aphasia due to a migraine while reporting from the Grammy Awards.
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Auditory hallucinations are hearing things that aren't really there and can occur as a Migraine aura symptom. What's "heard" varies from one person to the next. People have reported hearing music, distant conversations, the sound of footsteps, and more.
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Olfactory hallucinations are smelling odors that don't actually exist. Also called phantosmias, this symptom is reported fairly rarely with migraines, but that may be because people don't realize they can be a migraine symptom and ignore them. Olfactory hallucinations are also known to occur in cluster headaches, hemicrania continua, and new daily persistent headache.
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Allodynia is a condition in which an ordinarily painless stimulus is experienced as being painful. The most common form expereinced during a migraine attack is cutaneous (of the skin) allodynia. You may have heard people say that even their hair hurts during a migraine. That's allodynia.
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Paresthesia is an abnormal or unpleasant sensation often described as numbness or as a prickly, tingling, stinging, or burning feeling. It's often likened to the feeling that occurs when a limb "falls asleep." Paresthesias can affect many parts of the body. During a migraine, they most likely occur in the hands or face, followed by the arms.
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Confusion is a common Migraine aura symptom, making it difficult to remember if we've taken medications and when we took them. For those of us who experience much confusion during a migraine, it can be advantageous to have someone help us with our medications or to be sure to write down what we take and what time we take it.
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Dizziness is the sensation of being unsteady accompanied by a feeling of movement in the head. Dizziness is a fairly common migraine symptom. Be careful not to fall when experiencing dizziness. Dizziness is not the same thing as vertigo, which is when our surroundings seem to whirl around us. Vertigo can also be a migraine symptom, along with other disorders.
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A poster presentation at the 2013 International Headache Congress revealed that hiccups can be a symptom of migraine aura. The pathophysiology of hiccups is not well understood, but many of the nervous system structures involved in hiccups are also involved in migraine.
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Yawning is a very common migraine symptom. Researchers aren't sure why yawning occurs so frequently during migraine aura.
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Irritability is another common migraine aura symptom. Irritability and other mood issues can occur because of the fluctuations in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine that are caused by the Migrainous process in the brain.
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Some people experience chills as part of their migraine aura. They can also alternate chills with being too warm. For those of us who experience chills, it can be very comforting to keep a nice, soft blanket in our Migraine Attack Pack.
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Fatigue is a very common symptom during the migraine aura. It can range from mild to severe.
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Increased urination is a common migraine aura symptom that can be very inconvenient, especially when away from home.
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Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is a frequent symptom of migraine aura, even for those not experiencing any nausea.
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Neck pain can be a migraine symptom that begins as early as the prodrome. It can run through the aura and headahe phases as well. Most people realize that nausea is a common migraine symptom, but research has shown that neck pain is even more prevalent.
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Decreased or lost hearing
A temporary decrease in hearing or temporary loss of hearing can be a migraine aura symptom. Hearing should return to normal after the migraine attack.
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Temporary monocular blindness can be a very frightening migraine aura symptom. This is total blindness in one eye only, and it occurs only in retinal migraine. Vision should return when the migraine ends. Anyone experiencing this for the first time should contact their doctor to rule out other potential reasons for the blindness.
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Hemiplegia or motor weakness
Both hemiplegia and motor weakness can be migraine aura symptoms. The one-sided paralysis and the weakness occur only in hemiplegic migraine. It's important to distinguish true motor weakness from paresthesia. Anyone experiencing hemiplegia or motor weakness for the first time should consult their doctor so other conditions can be ruled out.