What Is Transient Aphasia, the Migraine Aura Symptom We Don’t Talk About Enough

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What Is Transient Aphasia?

Transient aphasia is “a condition that results [in a] temporary inability or decreased ability to speak, read or comprehend,” according to Svetlana Blitshteyn, M.D., a neurologist and the director and founder of Dysautonomia Clinic. When this happens, you may gradually or suddenly experience the inability to speak or understand what others are saying, have trouble reading or writing and sometimes have trouble with math-related understanding. Symptom severity can vary from person to person and between attacks. 

Mighty community member Rebecca A. described what transient aphasia can feel like in the article, “15 Migraine Symptoms That Aren’t ‘Just a Headache.’” She said:

It makes it super difficult to find words and talk sometimes and can last for hours. For me I can read, write and understand language but I cannot speak whole words or phrases and sometimes I switch words for others.

During an attack, transient aphasia symptoms can be debilitating, but when it’s due to migraine with aura your speech and language skills are only temporarily affected. “The definition of an aura is that it should be completely reversible without any residual deficits,” Blitshteyn told The Mighty. Once the aura symptoms subside, your speech and language skills should return to normal.

What Causes Transient Aphasia?

One theory behind the cause of transient aphasia can be traced back to an unusual electrical wave in your brain called spreading cortical depression. This is the same process that causes visual aura symptoms. The wave disrupts the normal flow of electrical currents among your neurons. As this effect spreads throughout your brain, the brain gets confused by the messages received from the abnormal electrical signals.

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