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They don’t give you a headache – but ‘silent migraines’ can be even more shattering

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Rachel suffers from aura migraine, which causes her vision to partially disappear for about 20 minutes
Rachel suffers from aura migraine, which causes her vision to partially disappear for about 20 minutes

Rachel Paskin has suffered from migraines for almost 30 years but rarely has a headache. Instead, a bright, flashing line appears across her eyes, causing her vision to partly disappear.

The 42-year-old has suffered up to five such attacks a day, severely affecting her work and ability to drive.

What she experiences is known as a silent migraine – a type of migraine that comes without the severe headache typically associated with the condition.

Instead, those affected experience visual  disturbance, co-ordination problems, and pins and needles (symptoms known as migraine ‘aura’).

‘The first time it happened I was about 14 and thought I was having a stroke or going blind – it was terrifying,’ says Rachel, a Birmingham City University administrator who lives with her husband Neil, 44, a heritage building restorer, in Aldridge, West Midlands.

She saw an optician, who reassured her there was nothing wrong with her eyes, but after doing her own research she realised what was causing her symptoms.

She put up with the silent migraines and realised she would feel OK again after they passed, usually after about 20 minutes – although during that time she couldn’t see properly and her co-ordination was compromised.

On average, she had about five attacks a year but two years ago she started having the attacks four or five times a day so she sought medical help. In the aftermath, she felt ‘spaced out’ and tired for a few hours.

Migraine aura can have a wide range of different symptoms, including seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines and blind spots, stiffness or a tingling sensation in the neck, shoulders and limbs, problems with co-ordination, difficulty speaking, and occasionally loss of consciousness.

Aura often strikes just before a crippling headache, which usually sets in under an hour after the aura finishes. READ MORE

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