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Migraine with aura

on .

Approximately 10% of migraineurs have aura. The first time you experience an aura you may be alarmed by seeing colors and patterns or spots, that may lead you to believe you have a stroke or a blood clot in the brain. Fortunately the aura disappears by otself after ½ to 1 hour.

The headache after aura lasts as long as a migraine without aura, that is between a few hours and more than 3 days. You may also be lucky not to get a headache at all after the aura.

In contrast to eye migraine the visual disturbances are the same on both eyes, and you also 'see' the colours and shapes with closed eyes. First time you experience having aura it can be extremely daunting. Symptoms may mimic a stroke, but is fortunately usually resolve within ½ - 1 hour. Aura is due to reduced blood flow to the visual cortex (at the back of the brain), because one or more blood vessels contract. Fortunately  the vessels exoand again, and there is no permanent damage.

The aura can be colorful, as pictured to the right, or simply a gray spot that grows and hides the world. Migraineurs with aura have drawn their personal aura in the figure to the left.

Aura Migraine on live TV

Migraines can come at the most unfortunate times. Migraine with aura can develop quite rapidly, as happened to an American TV reporter Serene Banson who covered the Grammys in February 2011, and was suddenly unable to speak the right words, while she was on live TV.

See a clip on Youtube here (in English), where she talks black because she has her first migraine with aura.

The U.S. media described her case as 'complex migraine'. It is not a term used anymore, but it was previously used for migraine with aura, the aura included more than 'just' visual disturbances. See an explanation of this type of aura (also in English).

Video representations of aura

Aura can take many forms. Here is a film that shows the type of ''.

Other forms of aura makes it impossible to drive because the visual disturbances remove large parts of the visual field - see an example

Aura can also have a certain kind of beauty - watch a auramigrænikers video clip.

But the aura is not always colorful and beautiful. It can also be seen as a gray area where you can not see anything - see .

All video clips with aura are of course made with image manipulation - it is not possible to film the actual aura as the only one who experience it is the affected migraineurs. There are many more clips with aura on Youtube.

It is only you who know exactly what your aura looks like. Therefore, it is your responsibility to stop the car or stop other activities that require you to see what is happening around you.

What happens in the brain when we have aura?

The aura is  - probably - caused by a period when not enough oxygen reaches the visual cortex (the posterior part of the brain). This triggers a cascade of 'errors', which means that we see the shining patterns. After approx. ½ hour, blood flow will again be adequate and the visual disturbances go away.

The aura coincides with a phenomenon called Cortical Spreading Depression (CSD), which means that something is happening in the cerebral cortex (cortex) that is spreading, and that was first considered to be a reduction in the electrical signals in the brain (depression). But it has nothing to do with a depression in the usual sense.

The figure on the left is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migraine

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