Aura with no headache?

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I am now in my sixties, but, when I was was younger I can remember having one-sided headaches which completely debilitated me. I could only recover from them by sleeping. I never saw a doctor about them, although now I wonder if they were, in fact, migraine headaches. Thankfully, I haven't had a headache of this type for years, but I do occasionally get aura - flashing, sparkling lights and blind spots in my vision so that I can't read anything. It usually lasts for about 30 minutes and then I get what I would call a thick head, but no headache. I'll be seeing my GP in a week and wondered whether to mention this. I suppose I want to be be sure that I'm not mistaking these symptoms for the start of a stroke or a mini stroke. Is this type of aura common? And is it worth discussing with the doctor?

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  • Posted

    Hello Rosiemags. I suffer from migraines but without the aura. I have heard about and read that some people do complain of an aura without them getting the awful debilitating headache as well. So it sounds to me from what you describe that it is a migraine in some form but I would definitely mention it to your GP
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  • Posted

    Yes I would say definitely mention it to your doctor because it could be a migraine but I used to work in an opticians and I' m aware that flashing lights could be something else. If you can get an opticians appointment before going to the GP I would also recommend doing that, an optician is able to examine the eye better than the GP. Good luck.
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  • Posted

    Thank you both for your replies.  I will mention it to my doctor when I see him.  I do have an eye condition, Kath, but the visual disturbances only lasted for about 30 minutes and so I put it down to migraine aura, as has happened in the past.  It's quite distinctive in the way it happens - the sparkles and loss of part of my vision - unlike the flashing I had when I had a posterior vitreous detachment.  However, I will also mention it to the optician the next time I go.  Thanks again.
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  • Posted

    Hi Rosiemags,

    I am 49 and, like you, suffered debilitating migraines, usually with aura, from the age of about 12 / 13 until recently. They always made me feel horribly sick and gave me a stiff neck, too. When I was living with my parents I was always given Disprin, a revolting-tasting dissolvable aspirin, at the onset of the aura, and this made me feel dreadfully sick, too! As I got older I discovered Migraleve / Migralift, with 2 different tablets - one to be used at aura onset, one for the migraine.

    I was lucky in that the migraine, itself, usually only lasted a day (when I would need to lie down in a darkened room as much as possible). For the next couple of days I would just feel queazy and washed out / spaced out.

    In recent years, around about period times, I can get dreadful migraines without the aura, but accompanied by what I can only describe as a burnt sugar "sensation"! The first time it happened, it was so strong that I went and searched the kitchen for the source of the "smell". During my last period I didn't get a migraine, but this same sugary sensation was present during my usual 24 hours of period pain. Maybe I am just an oddity!!

    I noticed the aura migraines have been decreasing in instance over the years, and the last time I got the classic aura - on waking up! - it went away without a headache develloping. Like yourself, I felt muzzy-headed, and wary that something else was about to happen - but it didn't. I think that was only the second time it ever happened. The previous aura-without-pain happened when the disturbed vision came on whilst I was driving and I was unable to pull over anywhere so could only slow down. Eventually the lights vanished and I was ok again.

    It sounds like our auras are very similar - it starts with a centre blind spot (I used to be able to know one was coming if I looked at a pair of straight vertical lines - such as a telegraph pole -  and could only see the left side). The centre spot starts to shimmer and grow, becoming an arc of colourful, bright wiggly lines that gradually grows and grows, sideways, (generally to the right) where it then disappears out of my field of vision and I can see properly again.

    My brother has never been a sufferer, but both my parents are. My mum, just turned 80, still gets them now and then, but she noticed they lessened considerably over the years.  She often gets the start of an aura without it necessarily developing further. A couple of years ago I was thoroughly checked over by an optician as the close-up sight in my right eye has been failing and blurring, but I have never mentioned migraines to my doctors.

    Hope you have managed to get some satisfactory answers from your GP...

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply.  Yes, my aura often begins with losing the bottom part of my vision, e.g. if I'm reading a book, the lower part of the text disappears.  I then sometimes have sparkles of light, or bright, shimmering, whirling lights, often up to the right hand side.  The lights grow and continue for about 30 minutes.  It's really quite scary to suddenly be unable to see properly and, thankfully, it has never happened when I've been driving.  I just have to sit quietly until it eventually goes.  I also occasionally get what I believe are called ice pick headaches - sudden flashes of pain in my right temple.  I've read that this is quite common in migraine sufferers.  So, I'll see what the GP says.
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  • Posted

    Just an update.  I did mention it to my GP and he examined me to make sure I hadn't had a stroke.  It will now have gone onto my records.  No evidence of stroke - thank goodness - so it looks as though it's definitely migraine and the headaches I had when I was younger were migraine headaches, too.  Apparently, as one ages, the headaches can disappear, but you can still get aura.  I also found out that my son - who lives 200 miles away - has migraine with aura, something he has never mentioned to me before, although he did get bad headaches when younger.  Do others find that migraine runs in families?
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    • Posted

      Hi Rosiemags,

      I'd say there is definitely an hereditory link with migraines. Both my parents have been life-long sufferers, although my brother has been fortunate enough not to be afflicted. My mum's mother was a silent sufferer and it was many years before my mum ever realised. With 4 children to bring up in the 1930's / 40's and coping alone whilst her husband was away during the 2nd World War, and supporting his own tailoring business, she never grumbled and barely stopped for breath. My mum does remember one occasion when she had to go and lie in a peaceful dark room for a day. It was such a shock to everyone as she had kept migraines  a secret.

      My parents and I also get "thundery" headaches when the atmosphere is charged up and heavy. Again, my brother has never had these, either.

      Funnily enough, I have literally just emerged from one of my not-so-common-now 3 day headaches which are definitely (to my mind) hormone-related as they only seem to happen during a period. I think they must be some form of migraine as no standard drugs work on them. If I don't take something straight away I am stuck with a sickly headache for days. Most of the pain has been just above and behind my right eye and radiating across my forehead. Yesterday I was getting stabbing pains in that area and a tight band almost on top of my head but to the right. I tried paracetamol, ibuprofen, extra strength paracetamol with aspirin and caffeine in it, and Naproxen which is just a strong ibuprofen on prescription. Maybe I diddn't take them frequently enough to do any good, but I have always been wary of taking things unnecessarily. Yesterday afternoon I discovered some so-called "migraine relief" gel pads that are impregnated with something and will stick to the skin for a few hours. It was blissfully cool on my forehead, especially in the heat, but it was no cure. I probably had about half a pint of cider over the whole evening and that actually seemed to give a little relief!

      Fingers crossed, the headache has gone now after a reasonable night's sleep. Just not sure if I need to see the doctor about these episodes. They don't happen every month, thankfully.

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  • Posted

    Hi Rosiemags.  I get both occasional aura and frequent migraines, but never together.  I've suffered for about 30 years now.  The aura are just like you describe - start with a blind spot which grandually becomes a shimmering crack with rainbow colours that fills my whole field of vision.  Within 20 to 30 minutes, it goes off like a light and I'm back to normal.  Every time it happens, I worry that I'm having a stroke even though I've had so many over the years and should be used to such a benign occurence by now.  Tiredness and bright lights can trigger and aura but I've yet to find what triggers my headaches and they've not really changed as I've aged.  I do find holding cold water at the back of my mouth (against the soft palate) alleviates some of the extreme pain for a while.
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