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What You Should Know About Hallucinations

  • Hallucinations are best described as deceptions or tricks played by the brain that involve the body’s senses. Hallucinations can be seen (visual), heard (auditory), felt (tactile), smelled (olfactory) or even tasted (gustatory).
  • Although they appear very real to the individual, they cannot be seen, heard, felt, smelled or tasted by another person.
  • LOW dopamine levels cause PD symptoms; HIGH dopamine levels cause psychosis, including hallucinations.

Types of Hallucinations

  • Visual: Seeing a furry creature run by your feet or seeing a deceased love one sitting in the room. These are by far the most common in PD.
  • Auditory: Perceiving voices or sounds that are not real. These are uncommon but reported by a small percentage of people with PD.
  • Olfactory: Smelling an unpleasant odor that is not related to another source. This is rare in PD.
  • Tactile: Feeling imaginary bugs crawling on your skin. This is rare in PD.
  • Gustatory: Tasting a bitter or abnormal taste in your mouth that is not related to another source. This is rare in PD.

It is important to discuss all possible symptoms with your clinician, no matter how minor, rare or bizarre.

Page reviewed by Dr. Joash Lazarus, NPF Movement Disorders Fellow, Department of Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.

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