Think of aura as an early-ish warning sign that a migraine is brewing. But it’s one that only about 20% of migraineurs experience.
Auras trigger visual disturbances and physical sensations anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes before the pain sets in.
Most people—we’re talking 99%—experience visual auras. They see zigzags, curves, kalaidascopes, or shimmering. The patterns usually start on one side and move toward the center.
Sometimes, colors may also seem to shimmer. Or, you might develop blind spots or tunnel vision. The type of aura you have with one migraine might be different with another.
About half of people with migraines experience sensory auras. They may have a pins-and-needles sensation in their hands or face, usually just on one side.
You might also slur your words or just have trouble getting the words out because your tongue feels numb.
These physical symptoms can mimic a stroke, so if you experience them for the first time, be sure to call your doctor just in case.
Some people experience a “silent migraine,” which is an aura without the usual pain that follows. While you may be spared that agony, you may also feel queasy and extra sensitive to light and sound.