Everyone has heard of migraine headaches, but not many people are familiar with a type of migraine that is preceded by a condition called “aura” (also known as vision headaches). The aura phase consists of visual distortions that usually plague the migraineur just before the actual vision headache. During aura, a person may see flashing lights or jagged lines. Their field of vision may be contorted. Objects may appear to be further away – or closer – than they actually are. In fact, Lewis Carroll suffered from aura; his visual disturbances inspired many of the images in the book “Through the Looking Glass.”
Aura can even progress beyond these frightening vision symptoms. Some aura migraineurs get dizzy and disoriented. They may slur their speech or have trouble thinking of the right word when they’re talking. They may hear a ringing in their ears or smell a foul odor that isn’t really there. In fact, some patients are absolutely positive that they must reek of body odor! They may feel numbness in their extremities. They can undergo severe yawning fits. Many speak of a feeling that “things just aren’t quite right.” In rare instances, they may experience amnesia.
These symptoms are frightening for even the most experienced aura migraineurs, but they are absolutely terrifying for the first-time sufferer. Many patients are unaware of what is happening to them. They do not know that the effects are temporary; they think that they have gone absolutely insane.
What Causes Vision Headaches?
During a migraine, blood vessels in the brain become dilated, thus decreasing the flow of blood to your head. During aura, it is believed that the reduced blood flow results in a decrease in oxygen to your brain cells; this causes problems in the vision center and other areas of the brain.
About twenty percent of migraineurs have to deal with vision headaches. Aura almost always occurs before the onset of the migraine. On one hand, this may be a helpful warning that a painful headache is on the way, so perhaps you can prepare yourself as much as possible. However, for some people, the aura phase is just as bad – or worse – than the migraine itself.
Most vision headaches last about twenty to fifty minutes before the headache begins, but some people have the aura symptoms at the same time as the migraine. Some people even have aura without any actual migraine pain at all! (This is known as a “silent migraine.”)
There are many natural, safe remedies you can use to treat migraines and vision headaches. The most effective supplements seem to be those that aid in your body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is now believed to play a vital role in the migraine headaches.