Migraine with Aura: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Wed Mar 10 2021

When we feel pressure, discomfort, or pain in the head, it is difficult to say whether it is a normal headache or a migraine. Most of the time, we write off our pains as regular headaches, but migraine pain is not just a headache. Moreover, if migraine is accompanied by other sensory inputs like light flashes or blind flashes it is called Migraine with Aura.

In this blog, we help you answer all vital questions related to migraine with aura

What is Migraine with Aura

At times, the migraine strikes along with (or after) a sensory disturbance called an aura. Aura can be blind spots, light flashes, or symptoms that result in vision changes. This particular migraine is termed as Migraine with aura.

In a typical migraine, you will experience severe headache, whereas in migraine with aura, you will experience a headache accompanied by vision problems.

Migraine with Aura Causes

The primary trigger of migraine with aura is the reaction caused by several brain chemicals spread across the brain's cortex. It is likely that migraine with aura might be triggered by conditions similar to those witnessed in migraine without an aura.

Some of the causes that can trigger migraine with aura are:

Migraine with Aura Symptoms

Now that you have a fair understanding of the main causes of this particular migraine let's look at its symptoms. Firstly, migraine with aura symptoms starts with sensory disturbances.

The most common sensory symptoms are:

  • Blindspots 
  • Changes in vision
  • Flashes of light
  • Zigzag lines that float across the vision

Also, watch out for pre-migraine symptoms :

  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Craving for different varieties of food
  • Feeling cranky or experiencing frequent mood swings
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue and frequent yawning

Some of the pre-migraine and sensory symptoms might continue till you experience severe headache. The headache may be steady or throbbing and mostly concentrated to the frontal lobe of the head & eyes.

The duration of the headache may range from a few hours to three days. You will also experience a few more symptoms during the migraine like:

  • Hot flashes or sudden chills
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Constipation or upset stomach
  • Vertigo
  • Sore neck
  • Vomiting

Migraine with Aura Stages

Many times, it is difficult to predict when a migraine is going to strike, but it is possible to determine a pattern and predict the migraine when it is in the early stages.

Most adults experience migraines with aura in 4 – 5 stages.

Stage 1 – Predrome (or Premonitory) stage

At this stage, you will experience a lot of physical and mental challenges. Its symptoms include craving for certain food, loss of appetite, irritability, depression, Constant thirst, etc. This stage lasts from 1 – 24 hours.

Stage 2 – Aura

Aura may (or may not) be present during all migraine episodes. It starts just before the headache phase. Symptoms like blind spots, light flashes, etc., can be experienced in this stage. This stage lasts from 5 – 30 minutes.

Stage 3 – Migraine or Headache 

This is the stage where you will experience a lot of inconveniences, as you will have a severe headache with a throbbing sensation. Movements, bright lights, strong smells, or loud noise will add to your woes. This stage lasts from 4 hours – 3 days.

Stage 4 – Resolution

Sleep helps stop the migraine attack for most people. One or two hours of sleep is sufficient to stop the attack. Crying for a considerable amount of time can also stop a migraine attack.

Stage 5 - Postdrome (or Recovery)

Following the severe migraine, phase is the recovery stage which is also called the Postdrome stage. It is the Hangover stage, the symptoms of which are opposite to that of the Predrome stage. In case you had a loss of appetite in the predrome stage, you will feel very hungry. If you were earlier feeling depressed, you would now be overly elated.

You may or may not experience all the stages of migraine. There is a possibility that you might experience migraine aura even without the onset of a migraine.

Migraine with Aura Treatment

The treatment of migraine with aura is no different than the treatment for normal migraine. The best way to address migraine with aura is to treat migraine symptoms and prevent further attacks. Here are the ways to ease the migraine symptoms:
  • Stay in a dark and quiet room away from any sensory triggers
  • Avoid sudden movements
  • Take pain relievers like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Acetaminophen, etc., to help relieve the headache. You should consult a doctor who knows about your medical history before consuming any medicine.
  • Take triptan drugs as per prescription to block the migraine pain away.
  • You can also consume Ergots to help ease migraines.


Migraine with aura is not just a headache, it's much more than that. Though there is no treatment for the aura, you can keep the migraine under control by managing the symptoms and avoiding the causes.

People who have migraine with aura are at a higher risk of experiencing strokes. Since migraine with aura can cause severe inconvenience, it is recommended to take advice from experts.

Centre for Sight is a chain of technologically advanced eye hospitals. It has a team of highly experienced eye specialists who can help diagnose and resolve a range of eye ailments at best possible pace.

Visit Centre for Sight to know more about migraines, cataracts, and other eye ailments.

Article: Migraine with Aura: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Author: CFS Editorial Team   |   Mar 10 2020 | UPDATED 07:00 IST

*The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Centre for Sight.

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