Every 10th migraine attack starts with a disfunction of the central nervous system which is called an aura. This disfunction develops within a few minutes and usually lasts one hours at the most. If more than one disfunction occurs the time spans add up and can then last longer than one hour. The disfunctions of the form of migraine “migraine with prolonged aura” last longer: somewhere between 60 minutes and 7 days.
What is an aura?
The phenomenon was named after the Greek goddess of dawn Aurora. Just like the sunrise, slowly increasing neurological disorders start to appear 15 to 30 minutes before the actual attack. Mostly – in about 90% of all cases – these are impaired vision. At the corner of the field of vision suddenly flickering dots or zigzag lines, shrouds or haze, which slowly spread, appear. However, the aura can also express itself in the form of dizziness, speech impairment, tingling in certain parts of the body or even signs of paralysis.
The headache usually follows the symptoms of the aura, but it doesn’t have to. Some patients complain about one or more symptoms of the aura without realizing that they are suffering from migraine. Since the symptoms usually don’t last longer than 10 to 30 minutes, patients usually don’t find it necessary to call a doctor.
Maybe you are now inclined to think that the aura is also a precursor of the migraine attack but it is not because migraine is a disfunction of the nervous system. This neurologic disfunction usually expresses itself in the form of the typical throbbing headache but also in the form of these symptoms of the aura. They are part of the migraine attack itself and not precursors and they are so typical that they only exist in this form with migraine. They are a definite sign that the headache that usually follows is a migraine.