What Is a Seizure With Aura?

When you have epilepsy, there's a chance you might have an aura before you have a seizure. An aura is a feeling, experience, or movement that just seems different. It can also be a warning that a seizure is going to happen.

There are several types of epilepsy. Auras generally go hand in hand with partial -- also called focal -- seizures. With this kind, only a part of your brain is affected. Unlike other types of seizures, you stay awake and aware when you're having this kind. However, you may have auras and not remember them.

An aura is actually part of a simple partial or focal seizure. You might have just the aura all by itself and not end up having any other seizure. Doctors call that a simple partial seizure or partial seizure without change in awareness. Not everyone who has this type of seizure will have aura.

You can have an aura from several seconds until about an hour before a seizure happens. Most auras last from a few seconds to as long as a minute or two. It may just end with the aura, or from there it may lead into a seizure.

If you get auras, you can take steps to protect yourself if you know a seizure is on the way.

What Does It Feel Like?

Sometimes it's hard to describe how an aura feels. Other times an aura can be physical, emotional, or sensory changes. Most people experience the same thing each time an aura happens.

Auras can be different for everyone.

They might include changes to your thoughts, senses, or awareness like:

  • Flashing or flickering lights, blurry vision, dark spots, partial vision loss, or seeing things that aren’t there
  • A feeling of deja vu, panic, or detachment
  • Hearing voices or buzzing, ringing, or drumming sounds
  • Unusual, typically unpleasant smells
  • Sudden acidic, bitter, salty, sweet, or metallic tastes
  • A sudden strong emotion like joy, sadness, fear, or anger

You could also have physical signs like:

Treatment for Seizures With Aura

There are many treatments for epilepsy. Most people can control seizures with anti-seizure drugs. Your doctor will work with you to come up with the best medicine -- or combination of drugs -- to end your seizures with the fewest side effects.

Knowing that you have auras gives your doctor a better idea what type of epilepsy you might have. He can help choose medicines that work better for those specific seizures.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on August 01, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Edmonton Epilepsy Association: "Partial Seizures."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Epilepsy and Seizures."

National Health Service: "Epilepsy -- Symptoms."

Mayo Clinic: "Epilepsy: Treatment," "Temporal lobe seizure: Symptoms."

Epilepsy Foundation: "What Happens During a Seizure?"

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Michigan Medicine: "Aura and Seizures."

Medscape: "Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Clinical Presentation."

Epilepsy Foundation of Metropolitan New York: "Types and Symptoms -- Epilepsy 101."

International League Against Epilepsy: "Aura."

Epilepsy Currents: "Auras Are Frequent in Patients With Generalized Epilepsy."

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