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Focal Migraines

Updated July 19, 2017

Migraine is a health condition that usually involves severe, throbbing headache pain and sometimes includes nausea, as well as sensitivity to light and sound. Roughly 20 per cent of migraine patients experience focal neurological symptoms, also known as aura.

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In general, the term focal suggests that a symptom is localised or concentrated, rather than generalised throughout the body; thus, focal migraines involve specific sensory symptoms.


Focal neurological symptoms related to migraine with aura most often involve visual disturbances. Less common are a lack of sensation or a tingling in the hands or face; an altered sense of smell, taste or touch; or speech problems.


Since visual problems are related to brain activity, they are noticeable in either eye and might include perception of shifting jagged lines, blurry or blind spots, or flashing lights.


According to womenshealth.gov, migraines last from a few hours to a day or two. When present, focal disturbances begin 10 to 30 minutes before the migraine attack, though some people experience the aura without feeling headache pain.


Treatment for focal migraines is determined by a physician on the basis of the patient's comprehensive medical history.

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About the Author

Lee Ralston

Lee Ralston has more than 20 years' experience in adult education and technical communication. Her bachelor's and master's degrees are in social science, yet she often writes and edits software manuals and guides. Ralston teaches in higher education and corporate settings on topics ranging from spreadsheets to interface design.

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