By Medicover Hospitals / 26 Feb 2021
If you're like most people, you probably think hallucinations have to do with seeing things that don't exist. But there is much more than that. It could mean that you touch or even smell something that doesn't exist.
- What Is a Hallucination?
- When to visit a Doctor?
What Is a Hallucination?
Hallucinations are defined as the "perception of an object or event that does not exist" and "sensory experiences that are not caused by stimulation of the sensory organs concerned" and can be defined as "sensory experiences that are not caused by stimulation of the sensory organs involved" a sign of a mental health illness but do not always mean a person is unwell. The word "hallucination," comes from Latin and means "mental wandering."
Hallucinations are sensory experiences that seem real but are created by your mind. They can affect all five senses. For example, you may hear a voice that no one else in the room can hear, or you may see an image that is not real.
Mental illnesses can cause these symptoms, the side effects of medications, or physical illnesses such as epilepsy or alcohol use disorder.
Types of hallucination:
There are five types of hallucinations, including:
- Auditory: Listening to voices or sounds that no one else can (the most common type of hallucination)
- Visual: Seeing people, colors, shapes, or elements that are not real (a second, more common type of hallucination)
- Tactile: Sensation of sensations (like insects crawling under the skin) or as if they are touching you when you are not.
- Olfactory: Smelling something that has no physical source (less common than visual and auditory hallucinations)
- Gustatory: Having a taste in the mouth that has no origin (the rarest type of hallucination)
Gustatory: Having a taste in the mouth that has no origin (the rarest type of hallucination)
- Schizophrenia: More than 70% of people with this disease have visual hallucinations and between 60% and 90% hear voices. But some can also smell and taste things that are not there.
- Parkinson's disease: Up to half of the people with this condition sometimes see things that are not there.
- Alzheimer's disease: and other forms of dementia, especially dementia with Lewy bodies. They cause changes in the brain that can lead to hallucinations. When your illness is advanced, it may be more likely to happen. Migraines About a third of people with this type of headache also have an "aura," a type of visual hallucination. It can look like a crescent of multicolored light.
- Brain tumor: Depending on where you are, it can cause different types of hallucinations. If you are in an area that has to do with vision, you may see things that are not real. You can also see spots or shapes of light. Tumors can induce scent and flavor sensations in certain areas of the brain.
- Charles Bonnet syndrome: This condition causes people with vision problems, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts, to see things. At first, you may not realize that it is a hallucination, but eventually, you realize that what you are seeing is not real.
- Epilepsy: The seizures that accompany this disorder can make you more likely to have hallucinations. The type you get depends on your brain that the seizure affects.
- Sensory diseases: People with vision or hearing loss may have hallucinations. This may be due to brain changes in sensory processing regions or in visual or auditory information that the brain receives.
- Dementia and other brain disorders: Dementia progressively damages the brain, including the regions involved with sensory processing. People with intermediate or late-stage dementia may experience auditory and visual hallucinations. Sometimes they see people who have died. In other cases, their hallucinations can terrify and trigger feelings of paranoia and panic that make it difficult for them to trust caregivers.
- Drugs: Drugs called hallucinogens can induce hallucinations. These medications temporarily change the way the brain processes and send information, causing unusual thoughts and experiences. LSD, sage, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and certain mushrooms are common hallucinogens.
After asking about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle habits, your healthcare provider will probably do a physical exam and order some tests to rule out medical or neurological causes of your hallucinations. Diagnostic tests can include:
- Blood tests to look for metabolic or toxic causes.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) to check for abnormal electrical activity in your brain and to check for seizures.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look for structural problems in the brain, such as a brain tumor or stroke.
Your doctor will recommend the best form of treatment once he finds out what is causing your hallucinations.
The treatment of your hallucinations will depend entirely on their underlying cause. For example, if you have hallucinations because of severe alcohol withdrawal, your doctor may prescribe medications that help calm your nervous system. However, if the hallucinations are caused by Parkinson's disease in a person with dementia, this same type of medication may not be beneficial and other medications may be used.
An accurate diagnosis is very important to effectively treat the condition.
Counseling can also be part of your treatment plan. This is true if a mental health disorder is the root cause of the hallucinations.
Talking with a counselor can help you better understand what is happening to you. A counselor can also help you develop coping strategies, especially when you feel scared or paranoid.
When to visit a Doctor?
It is sensible to see a doctor after any hallucination, even if there are no other symptoms. It is particularly important to seek medical attention if someone with a disease that can cause hallucinations experiences worsening hallucinations or other changes in mood or behavior.
Not all hallucinations need care, especially if a single experience is a hallucination. A hallucination is not a medical emergency, but only a doctor can determine if it indicates a serious health problem.
An important aspect of helping a loved one who is experiencing hallucinations is ensuring that treatment is available. Here are some more practical steps to help your loved one cope with hallucinations.
- hum or sing a song several times
- listen to music
- reading (forward and backward)
- talk to others
- ignoring voices
- medication (important to include)
Frequently Asked Questions:
There are numerous sources of hallucinations, such as marijuana, LSD, cocaine (including crack), PCP, amphetamines, opium, ketamine, and alcohol, being intoxicated or high, or being off medication.
Recovery from hallucinations depends on the cause. If you don't get enough sleep or drink too much, these behaviors can be adjusted. If your condition is caused by a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, taking the right medications can improve your hallucinations significantly.
Hallucinations can have a variety of symptoms, depending on the type, including sensations in the body (such as a tingling sensation on the skin or movement) auditory sounds (such as music, footsteps, or door knocks)
Severe cases of anxiety can produce more complex hallucinations. They can involve voices, which are sometimes associated with quick thoughts.
Nature - https://www.nature.com/articles/378176a0
Wiley's Online Library - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0447.1990.tb01350.x
International Society of Parkinson's and Movement Disorders - https://movementdisorders.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mds.21077