Aura – Brain Sensation

“The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” – John Milton

My brain and I have traveled this road seeking a cure for about 6 years now. At times the road proves rough and I stumble every now and again but I’m quick to pick myself back up, dust off and march on with my head held high, hope and faith glistening in my eyes. Friends and family by my side and most importantly my Lord and Savior paving the way forward every moment of every breath I take.

My journey contains more than just one type of seizure. As it is known thus far, I am faced with Grand Mal and Complex Partial Seizures. Allow me to define both.

Grand Mal Seizure (Tonic-Clonic Seizure)

This type is what most people think of when they hear the word “seizure.”

  • The tonic phase comes first: All the muscles stiffen. Air is forced past the vocal cords and causes a cry or groan. The person loses consciousness and becomes weak. The person may bite their tongue or cheek so you may notice bloody saliva. The person may turn slightly blue in the face.
  • After the tonic phase comes the clonic phase: The arms and usually the legs begin to jerk rapidly, bending and relaxing at the elbows, hips, and knees. After a few minutes, the jerking slows and stops. Bladder or bowel control sometimes is lost as the body relaxes. Consciousness returns slowly, and the person may be drowsy, confused, agitated, or depressed.
  • These type of seizures typically last between 1 to 3 minutes.
  • A tonic-clonic seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes requires medical assistance. A seizure that lasts more than 10 minutes, or three seizures without a normal period in between, indicates a dangerous condition called status epilepticus. This requires emergency treatment.

Complex Partial Seizure

Complex partial seizures can begin in any lobe of the brain, but cause alteration of awareness due to spreading of seizure activity.

Complex partial seizures are often preceded by a simple partial seizure (aura). An aura is often described as a warning and can manifest in several different ways, such as a sense of fear, a funny feeling in the body, déjà vu, etc.

Those experiencing a complex partial seizure may stare blankly into space, or experience automatisms (non-purposeful, repetitive movements).

Narrowing in on the topic of experiencing auras, one key sensation stands out quite strongly. One aura sensation I had begun to notice early on within my journey. In the beginning, I didn’t have very much to go on and very little answers. Forming what I could conclude, I began to ponder if I was the only one experiencing such a phenomenon. What was this phenomenon? Strange odors and tastes preceding the seizure. Olfactory auras.

What are the strange odors and tastes like? For each person, the sensation is different. In my experience, the best description that I believe I could formulate would most certainly have to be that of burning rubber or burning wires. “It’s not exactly what I had in mind for dinner but my brain seems to taste it”, I say jokingly. I don’t experience the strange odor and taste each time preceding my seizure, however when I do, in most circumstances it has always been this odor and taste.

aurasensationsMy hope is to learn more about this particular phenomenon. The olfactory sensations. Why it happens. What is going on inside of our brains during the time of this particular happening. Why the olfactory sensation is different for each person and similar for some and anything else I could learn that could further lead to a cure.

If you are reading this, tell me about your olfactory aura sensations. What sensations do you experience? What do you think about these experiences?

You’re not the only one.

I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!


  • Cherice

    I had auras ten years ago similar to a bat after me that grew larger to a ghoul donning a huge black cape until it swallowed my consciousness, coupled with overwhelming fear. I had tingling, odd burnt smells, arousal, deja (strange familiar), ….
    Now I sometimes have a mild sense of dread, restlessness, terrible uncomfortableness, burnt smells (rarely), flashing sights and other strangeness, jumping nerves in my legs or arms (sometimes face) irregular breathing/heart rhythm, exhaustion, difficulty focusing on anything, migraines, …(all I can recall at this time)

  • Tracy S.

    I have had epilepsy in my life for over 36 years now and in just the last 10 I have really want to say I have more of an understanding of it. I always knew I had it but since I have found all the sites and support pages I have found more info.
    But back to the subject of your post. For as long as I can remember I have always had an aura before my complex partial seizures (when I was younger the dr. called them petti mal). Over the years the aura’s have changed. When I first noticed the seizures (I was 7) I was having deja vu, then in my teen years I it switched to a bad stomach ache for a short amount of time before the seizure, then I would get an acid taste (like I had just vomited) in my mouth. Over the last two years I have started to have noticed a burning smell like an electrical burn. That is what caught my attention to your posts because your description was so similar to what I go through.

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