his sounds consistent with a migraine. The typical or textbook migraine starts with abnormal visual phenomena which sometimes is described as shimmering or zig-zag lights, which can sometimes surround a blurry area of the vision. Some people describe areas or splotches of their vision that blank out and some have lights or psychedelic phenomena surrounding these areas. They often progressively increase in intensity and sometimes march across the visual field. Many times this is then accompanied by nausea, irritability, sensitivity to bright lights and/or loud noises. After the onset of the lights (called scintillating scotomas), a headache (and/or possibly eye pain) typically starts and the light show tends to progressively go away.
However, for every person with migraines there is a different pattern; some people only have one of these accompanying symptoms, but the commonality is this gradual (meaning seconds and not instantly, usually) onset and resolution of either negative (void) or positive (lighted) visual phenomena, experienced in both eyes (even though it may seem to be predominantly in one eye or one side of the visual field).
The visual phenomenon that people experience with migraines do vary from person to person but often involve blurry vision with a lighted phenomenon; many people describe them as shimmering, but most consistently is an abnormal lighted visual phenomenon which is sometimes associated with blurring or hazy vision in one part of the visual field. One of the hallmarks of a person with a particularly severe migraine headache is their need to abandon all activity in favor of a quiet, dark room where they can sleep off the headache.
It is also commonly seen for people that have a tendency to migraines to go years (and often decades) between episodes. What is also not uncommon at all is to have someone's migraine character (meaning the conditions associated with and the symptoms and timing of the symptoms associated with it) change later on in life or as the body changes such as with illness, pregnancy, or age.
One of the less commonly known features of migraines is that many persons can have this visual migraine phenomenon without actually having headache; this is called an acephalgic migraine. The spectrum of severity of headaches among migraine sufferers runs the gamut from no headache to severe, debilitating headaches.
There tend to be many varied triggers for migraines, but some of the most common are chocolate, wine and cheese, stress, overuse of the eyes, and exposure to fluorescent lighting. Though, quite commonly, a reliable trigger is not found in many people and they come on seemingly without provocation.
Many people find that over-the-counter migraine preparations such as Excedrin-migraine work well. The common theme among these preparations is the ingredient of caffeine. There are prescription medicines that can be taken on a daily basis to help prevent them (if they become frequent enough to alter your life) and there are also medicines that can be taken on an as needed basis to help abort the headaches once they start. Most primary care doctors feel comfortable prescribing these, but if not, a neurologist would be a good place to start.
If you are having other symptoms such as loss of vision in one eye, double vision, difficulty talking or swallowing, or are experiening numbness or weakness in any specific part of the body, these are symptoms which are not normal for migraines and you should see either your primary care doctor or an emergency room doctor as soon as possible.
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