Epilepsy Talk

A menu of epilepsy auras…  | March 23, 2023

One of the good thing about auras, is that if you’re aware of them, they’re effective (if unpleasant) warning signals of an oncoming seizure.

I didn’t learn to identify mine (mouth filling up with saliva and disgusting metallic taste) until I was well into my 20’s.

Then I added dark spots to my repertoire and I was having all three when I met my husband!

The good news is that once I recognized them, I would instinctively know to hit the floor (before the floor hit me) or find a safe place to weather out the storm.

The fact is: There are probably as many or more types of auras as there are types of epilepsy…

In short, an aura is a simple partial seizure, often followed by a larger event.

The feelings of the aura are often vague and many patients are unable to describe their features.

Auras can last from several seconds to more than an hour, and can sometimes end with feelings of extreme tiredness, weakness, heart palpitation, sweating and warmth throughout one’s body.

And some people can experience auras with no seizure(s).

Each and every person’s aura patterns are different.  They vary significantly between individuals.

Common warning signs right before seizures are changes in bodily sensations, changes in your ability to interact with things happening outside you, and changes in how familiar the outside world seems to you.

Other warning signs that may happen hours before a seizure are depression, irritability, sleep disruption, nausea, and headache.

People with complex partial seizures are the most likely to experience warning signs.

Approximately 55% to 65% of people with these seizures experience some type of aura.

It’s unclear whether having seizures that arise from one particular side of the brain makes you more likely to have auras than people whose seizures arise on the other side.

For lots of people, auras occur in an ordered progression.

First you may feel fear…then déjà vu (the feeling that you’ve been there before)…then a strange taste in your mouth.

The part of your brain where your seizures originate (your seizure focal point) also may be linked to a specific type of aura because an aura represents the beginning of a seizure.

Since different parts of the brain are responsible for different things, the warning signs you experience will be related to the functions of the section of brain where the seizure is about to occur.

People whose seizures begin in the temporal lobe tend to have certain types of auras and those whose seizures begin somewhere else often will have different types.

Here are some types of auras that can happen alone or in combinations…

Visual changes

Kaleidoscope effects

Visual hallucinations

Shimmering sensations

Vibrating visual field

Distortions in size, shape or distance of objects

Bright lights or blobs

Zigzag lines

Tunnel vision

Blind or dark spots in the field of vision

Curtain-like effect over one eye

Blindness in one eye

Motionless stare

Dilated pupils

Auditory changes

Hallucinations — hearing voices or sounds that don’t exist

Being unable to understand spoken words

Muffled sounds

Buzzing noises

Loud or whispered volume

Temporary deafness

Physical changes

Weakness, unsteadiness

Changes in heart rate




Saliva collecting in mouth

Lip smacking



Strange smells

Problems speaking

Repetitive movements

Limbs jerking involuntarily

Numbness or tingling on one side of face or body

Feeling of being separated from your body

Needing to urinate

Psychological changes


Anxiety or fear

Physical detachment

Déjà vu or jamais vu, a sense of familiarity or unfamiliarity

Keeping as seizure diary might help you track both your triggers and auras.

Like the Seizure Tracker. https://seizuretracker.com/ A tool for both you and your doctor.

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Steven C. Schachter, M.D.







  1. Fascinating article! The term aura is also used in connection with Migraine. My wife used to get “Fortification spectrum ” before developing a full blown migraine attack. (She was eventually successfully treated and stopped getting migraines. I only wish we could all have that good fortune!)

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Michael H — March 23, 2023 @ 10:20 AM

  2. Great detailed information! My son has occasional tonic clonics and he becomes paralyzed and can’t react to sit down in time. Maybe he can figure out on3 of these warning signs you mention! Thank you for all of your research and compassion!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by lmillerwnc — March 23, 2023 @ 11:05 AM

  3. Reblogged this on Disablities & Mental Health Issues.


    Comment by Kenneth — March 23, 2023 @ 12:39 PM

  4. If, as you rightly say, “an aura is a simple partial [a.k.a. focal aware] seizure,” then it’s impossible to “experience auras with no seizure(s)” since auras already are seizures. I could have been diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy several years earlier if doctors had understood that a seizure can end before some say that it’s even begun. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Deb — March 23, 2023 @ 12:44 PM

  5. Crazy,, Just as I saw this in my INBOX, my stomach had that feeling that I can get what feels like a seizure starting, aka AURA, & I am sitting & wondering WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW ? Someone like me has to ask IS MY DRUGS STARTING TO NOT WORK ? as they have been working for the past year for the past 16 months now taking XCOPRI. That feeling all but lasted 2 minutes, then later I felt the GAS pass just a bit & all the feeling was over, so How can GAS create an AURA to happen as it all felt the same, & I had NO MSG or anything like that today ? Oh YEAH !!! MSG will do anything like that as can ASPARTAME or any of the hundreds of EXCITOTOXINS, as the AED’s that are GENERIC in name, you must watch & look for more AURAS, than if you were taking BRAND names for AED’s with the ALUMINUM in them as well, that will cause more seizure activity & auras. That’s why I will only take 100MG tablet of VIMPAT & 50MG tablet of XCOPRI. Look up all the drugs you are taking & SEE & FEEL FOR YOURSELVES later when all that garbage is NOT being absorbed into your BBB / Blood Brain Barrier. having GAS is 1 thing, but when other toxins & chemicals are making AURAS to happen from the drugs & foods you have daily, SOMETHING has to change, when your brain chemistry is not doing what you want it to do. KEPPRA & DILANTIN are 2 of the worst for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — March 23, 2023 @ 3:54 PM

  6. This may sound odd but I tend to experience auras before having a full-blown anxiety attack. Just a sudden awareness that reality has shifted. Sometimes I experience a complete detachment from reality. I mean, I am present, just separated from reality. They are odd feelings but I have come to appreciate what they are because I am put on notice the anxiety attack is coming and I can prepare myself and those around me.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by moirabeth — March 23, 2023 @ 5:49 PM

    • An out of body experience?

      Depersonalization-derealization disorder occurs when you persistently or repeatedly have the feeling that you’re observing yourself from outside your body or you have a sense that things around you aren’t real, or both. Feelings of depersonalization and derealization can be very disturbing and may feel like you’re living in a dream.

      Many people have a passing experience of depersonalization or derealization at some point. But when these feelings keep occurring or never completely go away and interfere with your ability to function, it’s considered depersonalization-derealization disorder. This disorder is more common in people who’ve had traumatic experiences. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depersonalization-derealization-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352911#:~:text=Overview,’t%20real%2C%20or%20both.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 23, 2023 @ 5:57 PM

  7. These days I get auras mostly without seizures. I, too, get fortifications, and very pretty they are. Also a sense that time has slowed down; or that I won’t be able to walk through a doorway or under trees or an overpass, which is almost like feeling very tall, but not quite.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — March 24, 2023 @ 10:39 AM

  8. That list is too “clean”. Half of the circle of life is reproduction, and so the brain has a lot of sexual circuitry and, ergo, a lot of sexually related auras. At one time the term “orgasmolepsy” was used. While rare, orgasms and involuntary ejaculations can presage passing out. Afflicts women significantly more than men for some unknown reason.

    Embarrassing confession of the day – on 4 – 5 nights in 30 years afflicted, my temporal lobe epilepsy gave me an intermittent nocturnal erection that just would not quit all night long. Getting out of bed and pacing the room at 3 AM to kill the activity (both neurological and hydraulic) is most bothersome. Superman Man of Steel is actually a most undesirable role-play at 3 AM. And the brainstorm sensations made it clear exactly what the cause was.

    This delight is worth knowing about for how miserably demoralizing it can be. If you’ve got a child with issues of some sort, it’s definitely worth knowing about. Sadly, sexual automata are something doctors probably rarely speak of – the 19th Century literature is actually more informative. Sexual phenomena probably contribute immensely to historical stigma even if events are quite rare.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jeffrey Lee Hatcher — March 24, 2023 @ 7:37 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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