Sensory aura

An aura [awr-uh] is a perceptual disturbance experienced by some migraine sufferers and epileptics before a migraine or seizure. It often manifests as the perception of a strange light, an unpleasant smell, or confusing thoughts or experiences. Some people experience aura without a subsequent migraine or seizure, which is called a silent migraine.

Auras allow epileptics time to prevent injury to themselves or others. The time between the appearance of the aura and the migraine lasts from a few seconds up to an hour. Most people who have auras have the same type every time. Visual changes can include bright lights and blobs, zigzag lines, distortions in the size or shape of objects, a vibrating visual field, pulsating patches, tunnel vision, blind or dark spots in the field of vision, kaleidoscope effects on the visual field, or temporary blindness.

Auditory changes include auditory hallucinations, or buzzing, tremolo, amplitude modulation or other modulations. Other sensations include strange smells (phantosmia), tastes (gustatory hallucinations), feelings of déjà vu or confusion, feelings of numbness or tingling on one side of the face or body, feeling separated from one’s body, feeling as if the limbs are moving independently from the body, feeling as if one has to eat or go to the bathroom, anxiety or fear, weakness, unsteadiness, saliva collecting in the mouth, being unable to understand or comprehend spoken words during and after the aura, and being unable to speak properly, such as slurred speech or gibberish, despite the brain grasping what the person is trying to verbalize (aphasia).

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