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Migraine Aura or Stroke: When to Worry and What to Do

Any unusual change in vision can be very alarming. Many people think they may be a sign of a stroke. In some people, they are. In other people, they may be a migraine aura or vestibular migraine. These migraines, which can occur with or without headache pain, result in rainbow-like colors or other vision changes like zigzag lines or bright lights.

Migraine Auras

About 1/5th of migraine sufferers experience an aura with their headaches. Vision changes are the most common signs of an aura. However, they can also lead to neurological symptoms like speech difficulties.

However, sometimes, people can experience a migraine aura without getting a headache. You may have heard these called silent migraines, acephalgic migraines, or simply migraine auras. Auras have sensory symptoms, including visual disturbances. People with migraine headaches are more likely to experience these. Still, some people without a headache history can get them as well.

Vestibular Migraines

Similar to migraine auras, vestibular migraines show up as dizziness and might include nausea and vomiting.

Signs of Stroke

The signs of stroke are similar to vestibular migraines. They include headaches, vision changes, mobility challenges, dizziness, speech difficulties, and paralysis or difficulty moving body parts. These symptoms can increase over time or occur and then seem to disappear independently. However, if you suspect a stroke, you should get medical care even if the symptoms appear to resolve.

When to Get Emergency Medical Care

Suppose you are a known migraine sufferer but have never experienced vestibular migraines or migraines with auras. In that case, you should still seek medical care to ensure the symptoms are migraines. Many of the symptoms of migraine are similar to stroke. While a stroke is unlikely in people under 65 without an elevated stroke risk, getting immediate care after a stroke is one of the key components to recovery. So, we would never encourage someone to avoid getting direct care if they are experiencing new neurological symptoms.

Consult a Neurologist

Suppose they diagnose you with migraine auras or vestibular migraines. In that case, you can follow up with a neurologist to get ongoing care for migraine.

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