Hallucinations: Definition, Symptoms, Types, Causes and Treatment

They are sensations that seem real but are created by the mind.


They can affect your five senses. For example, you may hear a voice that no one else in the room can hear or see an image that is not real. These symptoms can be caused by mental illness, medication side effects, or physical illnesses like epilepsy or alcoholism.

You may need to visit a psychiatrist, a neurologist, or a general practitioner, depending on the cause of your hallucinations.


Hallucinations can affect your vision, sense of smell, taste, hearing, or bodily sensations.

Visual hallucinations: visual hallucinations involve seeing things that are not there. Hallucinations can be of objects, visual patterns, people, or lights. For example, you may see a person not in the room or flashing lights that no one else can see.

Olfactory hallucinations: olfactory hallucinations involve their sense of smell. You may smell an unpleasant odor when you wake up at night or feel your body stink when you do not. This hallucination can also include aromas pleasing to you, such as the smell of flowers.

Gustatory hallucinations: gustatory hallucinations are similar to olfactory hallucinations but involve their sense of taste instead of smell. These tastes are often strange or unpleasant.


Gustatory hallucinations (often with a metallic taste) are a relatively common symptom for people with epilepsy.

Auditory hallucinations: auditory hallucinations are among the most common types of hallucinations.

You may hear someone talking or telling you to do certain things. The voice can be angry, neutral, or warm. Other examples of this type of hallucination include the sounds of hearing, such as someone walking in the attic or repeatedly clicking or tapping with noise.

Tactile hallucinations: tactile hallucinations involve the sensation of contact or movement in your body. For example, you may feel insects crawl on your skin or your internal organs move. You can also feel the imaginary touch of someone’s hands on your body.

Temporal hallucinations: as the name implies, temporal hallucinations are not chronic.

For example, they can happen if a relationship has just ended or someone you love has passed away. You may hear the person’s voice for a moment or briefly see your image. This type of hallucination typically disappears as the pain of its loss fades.


Mental illnesses are among the most common causes of hallucinations. Schizophrenia, dementia, and delirium are some examples.

Drug-induced hallucinations

Illegal drugs and alcohol

People can experience hallucinations when drugged with illegal drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, or ecstasy. They can also occur during alcohol or drug abstinence if you suddenly stop taking them.

Drug-induced hallucinations are usually visual but may affect other senses.

Hallucinations can occur by themselves or as part of drug-induced psychosis. After long-term drug use, they can cause schizophrenia. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to psychotic states, hallucinations, and dementia.


Several prescription medications can occasionally cause hallucinations. Older people may be at particular risk.

Hallucinations caused by medications can be dose-related and usually stop when you stop taking the medication. However, never stop taking a medication without first talking to your doctor and, if necessary, after being evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Hallucinations and sleep

It is common for people to experience hallucinations just when they fall asleep (hypnagogic) or when they begin to wake up (hypnopompic).

The hallucination can take the form of sounds, or the person can see things that do not exist, such as moving objects or a shaped image, like a person (the person may think he has seen a ghost).

Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are particularly common in people with narcolepsy. However, they can also occur in people without narcolepsy or any disorder. They are essentially like dreams and have nothing to worry about in themselves.

Hallucinations in children with fever

Hallucinations can sometimes occur in children who are sick with fever. Call your family doctor if your child is sick with a body temperature of 38C (100.4F) or higher and thinks they are hallucinating.

Meanwhile, keep calm, keep your child cool and reassure him. Please encourage them to drink plenty of fluids and administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Hallucinations should happen after a few minutes.


Treatment may include taking medications to cure a physical or mental illness. Your doctor may also recommend adopting healthier behaviors like drinking less alcohol and sleeping more.