Skip to Content
Living with relapsing MS? Don’t miss these free events >>

Nonpsychiatric Hallucinations



are things you see, hear, feel, taste, or smell that seem real but are not. A nonpsychiatric hallucination means it is not caused by a mental disorder such as schizophrenia. Some hallucinations are temporary. Hallucinations that continue, interfere with daily activities, or worsen may be a sign of a serious condition that needs treatment.

Types of nonpsychiatric hallucinations:

  • Auditory means you hear things, such as music, buzzing, or ringing. You may think you hear the voice of a loved one who recently passed away.
  • Visual means you see things, such as a person or object that is not real. Flashes of light or shapes are other examples. Another example is an object that is real but looks different to you than it does to others.
  • Tactile means you feel things, such as an object that is not real. You may feel like something is touching you.
  • Olfactory means you smell something that is not real. The smell may make you gag or choke if it is not pleasant. You may smell something good, such as food or flowers. Olfactory hallucinations may be a sign of a serious medical condition that needs treatment, such as a brain tumor.
  • Gustatory means you taste something that is not real. You may taste something even when your mouth is empty. Your food may taste rotten or sour even though others eating the same food think it tastes fine.

Call 911 if:

  • You have a seizure.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your hallucinations worsen or return after treatment.
  • Your heartbeat or breathing is faster or slower than usual.
  • You have trouble breathing or shortness of breath.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new hallucinations.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


may not be needed. Any treatment you need will depend on the cause of your hallucinations.

Prevent nonpsychiatric hallucinations:

  • Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Alcohol can cause hallucinations or make your symptoms worse. Talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to stop using alcohol. Sudden alcohol withdrawal can cause hallucinations.
  • Manage medical conditions. Conditions such as thyroid disorders, eye problems, or migraine headaches may need long-term care. Check your blood sugar levels as directed if you have diabetes or other blood sugar problems.
  • Prevent dehydration. You may need to drink more liquids on hot days or when you exercise. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day, and which liquids are best for you. Drink liquids throughout the day. Too much liquid at one time can cause your sodium levels to go too low.
  • Set a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Keep your room quiet and free from distractions, such as a television or computer. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble falling or staying asleep.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.