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Are Auras Seizures & What To Do When A Patient Has Aura?

An aura is a sensation which some patients have just before an episode of seizure. They are called as a warning sign of a seizure to come. Pieces of research show that an aura is nothing but a form of simple partial seizure which actually happens on its own. This can be followed by generalized seizure at times.

Are Auras Seizures & What To Do When A Patient Has Aura?

Are Auras Seizures?

The doctors and researchers are of the opinion that auras simple partial seizures in real sense. The sensations experienced by a patient in aura are best explained as symptoms of simple partial seizures. Such seizures may lead the patient to an altered state of awareness rather than losing the entire consciousness.

Auras can be broadly divided into sensory auras and experiential auras. While people having sensory auras have some kind of sensation without a definite stimulus, experiential aura involves various forms of subjective perceptual phenomena.

What is Sensory Aura?

A sensory aura includes having some form of sensation without an objective sign of it. Such may involve:

  • Somatosensory Aura – Such auras are distinguished by sensory phenomena involving tingling sensation, electric-shock sensation, numbness or some sense of movement or desire to move around.
  • Visual Aura – Such auras are distinguished by visual hallucinations like flickering lights or flashing, simple patterns or spots. Visual auras can happen to exist in seizures including the occipital lobe, & are more often colored in nature.
  • Auditory Type Aura- Such auras are distinguished by auditory phenomena including ringing, buzzing, single sounds or drumming. It is seen that auditory type aura occur for patients having seizures including auditory cortex in the LSTL or lateral superior temporal lobe.
  • Olfactory auras are distinguished by olfactory phenomena – usually a smell, which is unpleasant. Olfactory auras occur in seizures include the orbitofrontal or mesial temporal regions.

Gustatory Auras are the ones which involve taste phenomena having bitter, acidic, sweet, metallic or salty tastes. The gustatory auras occur in patients with seizures include the insula and the parietal operculum.

  • Epigastric Aura- Such auras have characteristic feature of upper abdominal discomfort, abdominal emptiness, some form of tightness and churning & a sensation that may rise up to the chest.
  • Cephalic Aura are the ones in which patients complain of sensations like headache or light-headedness.

What is Meant By Experiential Aura?

The experiential type of aura includes phenomenon of depersonalization, hallucination and so on. Some of the types of experiential type of aura involve-

  • Affective aura, which includes feelings of depression, fear, anger and joy.
  • Mnemonic type of aura, which include feelings of déjà vu or unfamiliarity.
  • Hallucinatory aura the one which are distinguished by imagined sensory phenomena. This may involve forming images and hearing voices.
  • Illusory aura is the ones which include change in the actual perception of senses involving auditory, visual, somato-sensory, olfactory, gustatory phenomena with no change in the awareness.

What To Do When A Patient Has Aura?

As discussed above, auras are a form of simple partial seizures that act a warning signs for convulsive seizures which may occur later. Patients having different forms of aura are asked to-

  • Most primarily, the patient should inform the caregivers around when he feels some sort of discomfort in form of aura. This works as a warning sign so that the patient can be prepared to take to a safer place for convulsive seizures.
  • Patient should concentrate on breathing exercises as this may at times prevent the dangerous convulsive seizures to creep in.
  • Other preparatory exercises like meditation and biofeedback may help the patient to calm down.


  1. Smith D, Defalla BA, Chadwick DW. The misdiagnosis of epilepsy and the management of refractory epilepsy in a specialist clinic. QJM. 1999;92(1):15-23. doi:10.1093/qjmed/92.1.15
  2. Schuele SU, Luders HO. Intractable epilepsy: management and therapeutic alternatives. Lancet Neurol. 2008;7(6):514-524. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70108-4
  3. Fisher RS, Cross JH, French JA, et al. Operational classification of seizure types by the International League Against Epilepsy: Position Paper of the ILAE Commission for Classification and Terminology. Epilepsia. 2017;58(4):522-530. doi:10.1111/epi.13670
  4. Schomer DL, Lopes da Silva FH. Niedermeyer’s Electroencephalography: Basic Principles, Clinical Applications, and Related Fields. 7th ed. Oxford University Press; 2017.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2023

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