Migraines affect approximately 30 million Americans, most of them women. The symptoms of a migraine can be debilitating, especially when accompanied by neurological problems such as auras. For some migraine sufferers, the development of auras is a signal that a migraine is imminent, usually within the following 10 to 30 minutes of the episode. Nausea and vomiting are the most common symptoms associated with a migraine, and for some people speech may also be affected.
What Is an Aura?
An aura is a sensory disturbance that occurs before the onset of a migraine headache. The aura is the second phase of the four-stage migraine. MedicineNet.com explains that some patients may have blurred vision or flashes of light, which may or may not be combined with buzzing or ringing in the ears. Some patients also report that their sense of smell has been affected before a migraine; many smell fragrances that are nonexistent.
Characteristics of a Migraine
HealthCommunities.com explains that migraines generally fall into two categories: migraines with and without aura. The migraine without aura is the most prevalent. The typical migraine comes in four stages, but that does not necessarily mean that all patients experience every stage. The prodome stage usually develops about 24 hours before the second stage (aura) begins. The third stage is known as the attack, or headache itself, and the fourth stage is the post-headache, which is denoted by extreme fatigue. It is during the aura, or second stage, that speech is affected.
Auras that are sensory can sometimes cause numbness and tingling in the limbs, face and even the tongue. A rarer type of aura, known as the hemiplegic aura, can cause weakness on one side of the body. The dysphasic aura causes problems with language and compromises speech. In "The headache Sourcebook," author Joel Paulino reveals that approximately one in every six patients that suffer from migraine headaches has speech difficulties before the manifestation of headache pain.
Temporary Speech Difficulties
The symptoms of migraine auras can be intense, and most sufferers are grateful that they are only temporary. But sometimes the temporary speech difficulties manifest themselves in the absence of auras. For instance, the slurred speech of dysphasia can develop minus the aura, and in some patients, temporary dyslexia has been known to occur. In his book "Migraines," author Russell J. M. Lane explains that a temporary speech distortion, or a dysarthria, can sometimes be found in migraines without aura, along with temporary speech paralysis (apraxia).
Lack of Awareness
It is important to note that some people that experience language auras are not aware that they suffer from speech difficulties during migraine episodes. Author Joseph W. Tollison explains the reasons for this in his book "Practical Pain Management." According to Tollison, the discomfort of a migraine headache usually cause some people to talk less. In other cases, there may be no one around to notice that the migraine sufferer is experiencing speech deficits. If cognition is affected and thought processes are compromised because of the migraine, the headache sufferers may never realise that their speech was affected during the episode.