An unusual sensation (aura) may precede a temporal lobe seizure, acting as a warning. Not everyone who has temporal lobe seizures has auras, and not everyone who has auras remembers them.

The aura is actually a simple partial or focal seizure — one that doesn't impair consciousness. Examples of auras include:

  • A sudden sense of unprovoked fear
  • A deja vu experience — a feeling that what's happening has happened before
  • A sudden or strange odor or taste
  • A rising sensation in the abdomen

Sometimes temporal lobe seizures impair your ability to respond to others (partial complex or focal dyscognitive seizures). This type of temporal lobe seizure usually lasts 30 seconds to two minutes. Characteristic signs and symptoms include:

  • Loss of awareness of surroundings
  • Staring
  • Lip smacking
  • Repeated swallowing or chewing
  • Unusual finger movements, such as picking motions

After a temporal lobe seizure, you may have:

  • A period of confusion and difficulty speaking
  • Inability to recall what occurred during the seizure
  • Unawareness of having had a seizure
  • Extreme sleepiness

In extreme cases, what starts as a temporal lobe seizure evolves into a generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure — featuring convulsions and loss of consciousness.

When to see a doctor

Seek medical advice in these circumstances:

  • If you think your or your child is having seizures
  • When the number or severity of seizures increases significantly without explanation
  • When new signs or symptoms of seizures appear

Seek emergency medical care if:

  • A seizure lasts more than five minutes
  • The person doesn't recover completely or as quickly as usual after the seizure is over
  • Seizures keep repeating in a single day
Jun. 25, 2014

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