Migraine aura is a symptom or group of symptoms that precede a migraine. They can last a few minutes or as long as a week. The most common migraine aura is the visual aura. This can manifest as blurry vision, flashing lights, zigzags, or a mirage effect. It is thought that these are caused by a depression of blood flow that extremely leads to the excruciating headaches. Visual disturbance is one of the warning signs of stroke.
Numbness or tingling on one side of the body can also be a symptom. Facial drooping is common, and can be confirmed by trying to smile. And, while migraine aura will eventually resolve itself, these symptoms can also be attributed to stroke which needs immediate treatment. Better safe than sorry.
Migraine sufferers are some of the most misunderstood people, literally. When having aura, sometimes they just do not make any sense. Another type of migraine aura which requires immediate medical attention is the slurred, or garbled speech, and trouble forming thoughts. Anytime this symptom occurs, it is a medical emergency. It is thought that migraines do not leave permanent damage. However, this symptom could have sign of a stroke and, in that case, minutes count.
There are also mini-strokes, Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs), which are closely resembling migraine aura. They resolve within 24 hours and leave only minute damage behind. They are also called warning strokes, because there is a high likelihood of having a real stroke within one week. These are extremely important to diagnose. If you have migraine aura , you are almost three times as likely to have a stroke.
The Stroke Awareness Foundation features the acronym FAST! It stands for Face, Arms, Slurred Speech, and Time. Face refers to the facial drooping that can occur. Arms returns to the one-sided numbness or tingling. Slurred speech is self-explanatory. Time reiterates the critical nature of the stroke emergency. Brain cells begin dying within minutes of the sunset of stroke. The best stroke treatments are those given within the first three hours.
Visual Disturbances, numbness and tingling, and garbled speech and thought are all frightening experiences. It could be bad, or it could be worse. At best, you could have a very bad headache coming on. Even if you are a seasoned migraine sufferer, you need to go to the ER when you experience migraine aura symptoms that mimic stroke. It may be an inconvenience, but it could save your life.