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'Silent migraines' - do you have them?

(98 Posts)
boheminan Tue 14-Mar-23 14:09:45

I've just had a 'Silent Migraine' my first in over 15 years, so three in my lifetime so far.
Silent Migraines (for me) bring no headache but a flashing bright zig-zag aura that obliterates my sight. Thankfully I was able to get in my darkened bedroom before it got too bad.

I find them very frightening, they come unexpectantly, with no warning...they leave me feeling grotty, tired with a dull headache. This one only lasted about 20mins, another, years ago, lasted around an hour.

Does anyone else on GN experience these monsters? How often? How do you cope? Any tips???

ExDancer Tue 14-Mar-23 14:21:46

Yes I get them frequently and have done for years. And you're right they are a bit frightening. As there is no pain attached (thank goodness) you show no outward signs or facial expressions of being ill, so if you announce, out of the blue, that you're going for a 'lie down' your family look at you in amazement.
I cannot find a remedy or any other way of dealing with them.
Sometimes I can carry on and work through them, mostly they need some time out.

Skydancer Tue 14-Mar-23 14:23:03

I have exactly the same. Can be triggered by bright lights or stress or sometimes for no reason at all. They always last around 20 minutes. It's nearly always my left eye but occasionally my right or infrequently both eyes. I agree it's very frightening but I have got used to it. A friend of mine is exactly the same. It isn't uncommon so try not to worry. As you say, they leave you tired. For the rest of the day I try to take things easy. I have experienced this for 20 years.

dragonfly46 Tue 14-Mar-23 14:24:36

Yes I get them when I feel stressed. I had one recently which affected my speech. I was sent to the stroke clinic where they deduced it was caused by the ocular migraine. It was very frightening.

grannyactivist Tue 14-Mar-23 14:25:12

I’ve had dreadful migraines since I was in my teens and always resisted taking prophylactic medication. Some years ago I began to also experience silent migraines exactly as you describe, but often accompanied by nausea/vomiting. They would come with no warning and stopped me in my tracks, whatever I was doing. I once had to pull into a lay-by and wait for one to pass as it came on when I was driving and it was a genuinely scary event; so that’s when I finally decided to seek prophylaxis. I now take daily medication and have rarely had anything similar; I deeply regret not doing so much sooner.

Smileless2012 Tue 14-Mar-23 14:26:23

I get them but not very often thankfully, and it was sometime before I realised what they were.

The only thing I've found that helps me to cope is to go for a lie down as ExDancer's suggested and I find that having a window open really helps too. I don't know why but I find the after effects last longer than a 'normal' migraine, but that could be because I know when they're coming and am able to take migraleave.

Ellie Anne Tue 14-Mar-23 14:28:13

Yes I get them.the first one was scary but now I just wait till they pass usually after 20 minutes.I’ve no idea what causes them.

ExDancer Tue 14-Mar-23 14:30:58

What is prophylaxis?

loopyloo Tue 14-Mar-23 14:31:51

Yes have had these since teenage years.
Brought on by stress, low blood sugar and bright lights.
Now I drink sugar cola or lucozade and have a lie down.
Since I started on ramipril have only had one.
Good idea to have bp checked.

Twotontessy Tue 14-Mar-23 14:31:57

Yes, I’ve had two or three and they are frightening. I get a zig zaggy colourful bright ring in the corner of my eye and no matter how I move my eye the ring follows. My vision is affected like yours and I have to lie down until it goes. Sometimes I get a headache, sometimes I don’t. I’ve just had an eye test and asked the Optician about these disturbing episodes in my vision. She said they are nothing to worry about and that it is my brain telling me that a headache is coming. She said she gets then and it can happen even if the headache doesn’t follow. She checked my sight and the health of my eyes very thoroughly and this has reassured me. If you are due an eye test maybe get them checked for peace of mind.
I agree they are horrible but now I know they are harmless I don’t worry.

ExDancer Tue 14-Mar-23 14:32:35

That must have been terrifying grannyactivist

boheminan Tue 14-Mar-23 14:36:07

Thanks everyone for reassuring meflowers. It's a relief for me to know they're pretty common. It's still wearing off, slow going.

Elegran Tue 14-Mar-23 14:44:42

I get these every so often. Usually, it is a combination of dehydration, tiredness or stress, and concentrating on a computer screen or something else that means focussing my eyes for a long time.

They start with a tiny out-of-focus patch in the centre of my sight, which gets bigger and more zigzaggy round the edges for twenty minutes or half an hour until it covers my view. There has no headache.

Once I recognise it (and stop blaming dust on my glasses) I stop what I have been doing and get a large glass of water and a couple of paracetamol or ibuprofen. A paracetamol and codeine tablet is even better. After that I have a hot cup of tea or coffee, which adds liquids and rehydrates me, and the zigzags continue to expand outwards and then to fade.

Another half-hour generally sees them gone, and I don't usually get the headache. If I take action quickly, I don't need the darkened room, but I do take it easy and quietly for the rest of the day.

The first time it happened to me was the worst. It was a couple of days after my first child was born. I was in my hospital bed (they kept you in longer in those days!) talking to my husband, and was getting my words mixed up. Then my side of my lip went numb, and one hand.

Told a passing nurse, who took my blood pressure and fetched a doctor, in case it was a stroke, but that was ruled out. My curtains were drawn and I was tucked up in bed for a nap. While lying there, I got the zigzags in my vision - and instantly stopped worrying about strokes. My mother was prone to migraines and always got the zigzags when one was starting.

The GP prescribed some tablets to keep in readiness, but I had no more until the exact same timings after the births of my other children, plus one after a miscarriage. Stress, tiredness, and dehydration again, and hormone disturbances contributing. After that, I was almost free of them until after the menopause.

At least when you know what it is you don't have to worry about what it might be!

Juliet27 Tue 14-Mar-23 14:50:52

Yes, I’ve had these for years, usually when I’m stressed. Starts with zigzags which gradually gets wider and turns into a blind spot. All goes after 20/25 minutes and leaves me feeling jaded and having a slight problem concentrating for a while. The only pain I get is a pain over the eye later in the day if I lean forward.
I’ve found that taking statins triggers these optical migraines so I’ve avoid taking them.

Elegran Tue 14-Mar-23 14:52:59


What is prophylaxis?

A prophylactic is a medication that you take regularly to ward off the problem so that it doesn't happen. You take it even when you are feeling OK, you don't wait for the illness to strike.

Condoms are sometimes called prophylactics.

shysal Tue 14-Mar-23 15:00:39

I have been reassured by GP and optician that they are nothing to worry about. They have periods of happening daily or other times more spaced apart. I do not always know the trigger, but bright light is often associated. I know that they will fade after 20 minutes so just keep going with whatever I am doing once the centre part of my vision has cleared. I have never had a migraine and tend not to think of these episodes as one.

The very apt scientific name is 'scintillating scotoma'. If you ever watched the children's TV programme 'Primeval', which my GCs loved, it is just like the anomalies featured through which the dinosaurs appeared!" smile

Ladyleftfieldlover Tue 14-Mar-23 15:05:48

My younger son started getting this type of migraine when he started his PhD. He doesn’t take medication but is left feeling washed out. On the other hand, I started suffering full blown migraines from Primary School. Zig zag aura, excruciating pain and numbness down one side. All I could do was go to bed. Over the years I was able to manage them better. At the first sign of aura I took a painkiller so the headache wasn’t too bad. In my 40s I started to take a triptan as soon as the aura began, and (touch wood) this medication has been a life saver. No headache nor numbness but still the washout stuff. I can carry on with my life. Someone told me that we grow out of migraines. Really? My sister and I still get them.

NorthowramGran Tue 14-Mar-23 15:08:01

I thought it was just me! I’ve been getting them since I was 14 and I’m now 69. The zig zag lines, flashing lights, jumbled words, numb parts on my face and hands, lack of concentration and always followed by absolute exhaustion. Sometimes I can go months without one but then other times I can get 3 in a week. There doesn’t seem to be any real rhyme or reason to them, sometimes stress or eating the wrong foods and sometimes a change in the weather and sometimes no reason I can find.

NotAGran55 Tue 14-Mar-23 15:09:35

I’ve had them too, on and off for many years . The first time I was very worried as I was in Majorca on holiday with my little boys. I was reassured by my optician when I returned home that it was nothing to be concerned about.
I usually get one if I’m tired, dehydrated, or in bright sunlight. Lasts about 20 minutes and has only occurred once whilst driving and it wasn’t a problem to stop until it passed.
Never need to lie down or even mention it to anyone whilst it is happening.

NotAGran55 Tue 14-Mar-23 15:11:50

Gosh, just read back. Mine must be very mild compared to some of you.

rockgran Tue 14-Mar-23 15:17:47

Mine starts with a small blind spot then a tiny ring of zig zags which expand to the outer limit of my vision. After about 20 minutes it disappears and I am left feeling a bit sickly but nothing too bad. The worse time was when I was playing piano for a school concert and I lost the ability to see the notes. That was rather stressful but otherwise I've never identified any specific trigger.

FionaG Tue 14-Mar-23 15:18:54

I had one recently and had one on my 20s. This time after researching on NHS website I called the surgery and the on duty paramedic said to go to local optician who have an emergency free appointment daily for referrals from doc. She was very thorough and said it was probably stress/low blood sugar or just because but I was right to come in as faint possibility something else.

HMR39 Tue 14-Mar-23 15:22:25

First time I had one if these was driving.
It was absolutely awful as I had no clue what was happening to me..bright zigzags started in my right eye then gradually in the left.I managed to pull over into a layby,where by this time my hands,arms and legs had gone completely numb.I had to ring my husband to come and get me.( I was about 25 miles from home).
We went to the hospital as I could hardly walk even.
They actually scanned my head as they thought I'd had a a stroke. Thankfully not the case.I had eyes tested and everything. I think I started having a panic attack after my vision started to go weird.Driving even weeks later ,I experienced really bad panic attacks just because I felt terrified it was going to happen again.
I had a couple of 'do's ' like this weeks afterwards but thankfully ( touch wood) nothing since.
It's so weird how it just comes on so quickly, there's no warning.
You just feel sick and completely drained afterwards.Horrible.

Visgir1 Tue 14-Mar-23 15:50:15

I have had them a few first time was while I was driving to work. Frightened me, thought I was having a stroke! I'm lucky I work in a Hospital and got the eye team to have a quick check up.
Told it was this type of Migraine and advise take x2 Paracetamol it will go, they never last very long 15 mins or so.

Don't get them very ofter but when I do I pop in a couple of Paracetamols and I'm OK.

MayBee70 Tue 14-Mar-23 16:00:13

I was terrified the first time I had one. It was at nighttime and even in a darkened room I saw prisms of light. I thought to myself, if this never goes away I’ll never be able to do anything ever again. I then got used to having one occasionally and very rarely get them now.