You can have a migraine without an aura. In fact, migraine without aura is the most common type of migraine. Aura refers to a set of symptoms that usually precedes a migraine headache, such as vision changes, dizziness, or weakness.
What are the symptoms of migraine without aura?
A single episode of migraine with or without aura can last between 4-72 hours and goes through several stages. Common symptoms include:
What causes migraine without aura?
Scientists are not sure what exactly causes migraines, but believe that they are caused by a combination of factors:
- A wave of nerve cell activity spreads across the brain and excites the trigeminal nerve. This excitement leads to the release of neurotransmitters or brain chemicals, such as serotonin, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and dopamine, that trigger a change in the size of blood vessels, releasing more neurotransmitters and causing an inflammatory process
- Migraines often run in families, suggesting a genetic component.
- Changes in estrogen levels, such as during menopause, menstrual cycles, and pregnancy, can lead to migraines for some people.
What are other types of migraine?
- Migraine with aura: Characterized by temporary focal neurological symptoms (seeing bright spots or zigzags, tinnitus, and dizziness) that usually precede or sometimes accompany the primary symptom, which is a headache.
- Brainstem migraine: Occurs when the aura starts in the base of the brain (brainstem) and includes symptoms such as vertigo and difficulty hearing or speaking.
- Hemiplegic migraine: A rare type of migraine in which aura causes weakness on one side of the body (hemiplegia).
- Retinal migraine: Characterized by temporary loss of vision in one eye that may or may not accompany a headache.
- Chronic migraine: A highly disabling condition characterized by headaches that occur at least 15 days per month with at least 8 days of headaches with migraine features for over 3 months.
What triggers migraine without aura?
- Missing or skipping a meal
- Certain foods (aged cheese, alcohol, chocolate, food additives, and fermented foods)
- Caffeine (excessive caffeine consumption or caffeine withdrawal)
- Routine use of pain-relief medications
- Flashing lights
- Loud noises
- Not drinking enough water
- Not getting enough sleep
- Lack of sleep
- Perfumes and strong odors
- Excessive dieting
- Changes in weather conditions or altitude
- Hormonal changes
How is migraine without aura diagnosed?
After performing a thorough physical examination and analyzing your medical history, your doctor may recommend certain tests to confirm a diagnosis:
What are complications of migraines?
- Stroke or migrainous infarction (mostly seen in younger women, wherein the blood vessels to the brain get narrowed and the oxygen supply is cut off)
- Status migrainosus (relentless attack that lasts for more than 3 days)
- Migraine-triggered seizure
- Serotonin syndrome (syndrome caused by overuse of triptans and characterized by agitation, confusion, diarrhea, twitchy muscles, and racing heartbeat)
- Rebound headaches
Moore W. Migraines With Aura vs Migraines Without Aura. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/migraine-auras-explained
The Migraine Trust. Migraine without aura. https://migrainetrust.org/understand-migraine/types-of-migraine/migraine-without-aura
McQueen J. Complications of Migraines. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/headaches-migraine-complications
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