Q: I see auras, black spots or zigzag lines with migraines. What can help?
When people see black spots or experience any sort of visual changes with migraines, these may indicate migraine auras. Auras can be a part of a migraine, though not every person experiencing a migraine will experience an aura.
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Auras can look like black spots or zigzag lines or can cause temporary peripheral vision loss and sensory changes; these symptoms are all part of the migraine cascade.
To help with migraines, I recommend that patients avoid eating foods that contain nitric oxide or monosodium glutamate (MSG) This is crucial.
Some common foods I suggest avoiding include:
- Chinese food
- Nacho cheese flavored tortilla chips
- Ramen noodles
- Aged cheeses
- Red wine
- Too much caffeine
- Too much chocolate
It’s also important to avoid too much over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to avoid an increase in headache frequency.
To reduce auras, I recommend taking daily magnesium as a simple, over-the-counter strategy. A dose of magnesium of 400 to 500 mg can protect against these auras, and we often advise patients to take an extra magnesium when they experience their aura.
This is one simple strategy that doesn’t require a prescription. With magnesium, you should always watch out for side effects, such as diarrhea, but typically patients report many benefits.
—Headache specialist Emad Estemalik, MD