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Silent Migraine (Migraine Aura Without Pain)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2020

Many people use the term “silent migraine,” but the official name for this type of migraine is migraine aura without pain. Acephalgic migraine is another older term for migraine aura without pain.1

Silent migraine is not a separate type of migraine. However, it is an easy description of a migraine attack without the headache phase of the attack – a migraine with no headache.

What are silent migraines?

The typical phases of a migraine attack may include:

People typically associate migraines with the third phase of head pain. However, some people with migraine have a type of migraine that has many migraine symptoms but no head pain. Silent migraine and acephalgic migraine refer to a migraine attack that skips the third phase of head pain.

Who gets silent migraines?

Some people with migraine have only silent migraine attacks or migraine aura without pain. Others may have some migraine attacks with head pain and others without. Silent migraines may occur at any age and in those who never experienced migraines before. However, most silent migraines pop up in people who suffered from migraines with aura when they were younger.1

Other names for silent migraine include:1

  • Acephalgic migraine
  • Amigranous migraine
  • Migraine aura without head pain
  • Migraine equivalent

Types of silent migraine

Silent migraine attacks may happen in people who experience any of the other migraine types, including:1

Silent migraine symptoms

People with silent migraine, or migraine aura without pain, may have all the common symptoms of a migraine attack without the head pain. Some of these symptoms include:1

  • Seeing flashes or flickering lights
  • Seeing zigzag lines or waves, also called fortification illusions
  • Seeing spots, stars, halos, circles, lines, shimmering, other shapes or colors
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Cloudy vision
  • Seeing 3-D effects
  • Seeing dark areas
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Feeling pins and needles
  • Odd sensations in a body part
  • Clumsiness or weakness in the limbs
  • Vertigo
  • Trouble speaking
  • Amnesia
  • Confusion
  • Change in mood
  • Hearing loss
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Because many of the symptoms of silent migraines are the same as the symptoms for stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke or aborted stroke, it is very important to see a doctor immediately to diagnose the cause of the symptoms. Ruling out stroke and other more serious disorders is important.

How to get rid of silent migraines

If you frequently have migraine aura without headache, migraine treatments may help relieve other symptoms of your migraine attacks, such as nausea.

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