Alice In Wonderland Syndrome

Alice In Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) sounds as though it is made up, when actually it is a very real syndrome.  It is a neurological disorder that causes temporary episodes.  These episodes make your brain perceive your environment around you differently.  AIWS can affect your vision, touch, hearing, and even loss of time.  Alice in Wonderland syndrome mostly affects children and young adults, though anyone at any age can be affected by it.  

Alice in Wonderland syndrome causes you to have episodes.  Each episode for each person who has the syndrome is different as well as episodes may differ each time they happen.  The duration of an episode is usually just a few minutes with a small possibility of lasting for thirty minutes.  During these episodes you could experience size distortion.  Where your body or objects around you seem to have gotten bigger or smaller.  Perceptual distortion where objects around you get bigger or seem closer than they truly are.  Or objects around you get smaller or farther away from you than they truly are.  Time distortion can occur, causing you to feel as though time is moving way too fast, or extremely slow.  Sound distortion also can happen during an episode causing the softest of noises to feel incredibly loud.  Loss of limb control where your muscles feel as though they are acting independently from your body can also occur.  These are the most common things that can happen during an Alice in Wonderland syndrome episode.  Other things can happen that are less common are straight lines look wavy, still objects seem to move, three dimensional objects look flat, and faces are distorted.  

AIWS is not hallucinations, it is how your brain is perceiving your environment around you.  The cause of this is unknown but could lead to extra electrical activity in the brain.  Some triggers to AIWS symptoms could be having infections such as Epstein-Barr virus, migraines, stress, cough medicine, hallucinogenic drugs, epilepsy, stroke, or brain tumor.  Alice in Wonderland syndrome could be based on genetics, if you have someone in your family who has the syndrome you are at higher risk of having it yourself.  Research has shown that AIWS could be a type of migraine with aura.  A migraine with aura is when you have a headache that is accompanied by dizziness, ringing in ears, or sensitivity to light.  In this case it could be a headache accompanied by an episode of visual perception distortions. 

Alice in Wonderland syndrome may be underdiagnosed.  This can be because there is no actual test to diagnose this syndrome.  To diagnose you have to rule out all other possibilities.  Since episodes don’t last very long, and it mostly affects children this could also be a reason why it is so underdiagnosed.  Children just experiencing these short episodes may not realize the concern they really bring.  Doctors may want to try doing an MRI scan, an EEG to check for electrical activity in the brain, or blood tests to rule out viruses or infections. 

There is no treatment for Alice in Wonderland syndrome.  Though most children who have the episodes tend to grow out of them.  Even though there is no treatment there aren’t any long term or lasting complications that co-inside with this syndrome.  If you or a loved one suffers from having episodes, just sit with them until the episodes pass.  In younger children reassurance that they are safe and well is beneficial for them to know that their episodes aren’t harmful to them since they can be scary.  In cases where there is an underlying trigger such as migraines, or infection, treating the underlying trigger may cause symptoms and episodes to go away. 

Alice in Wonderland syndrome sounds made up and a little otherworldly.  But it is a true neurological disorder that affects people.  Though episodes are short and time between them may vary depending on the person, if you feel as though you have any of these common symptoms that happen during an episode you should contact your doctor.  Sometimes the syndrome is brought on by itself, but you may have an underlying trigger that is causing you these episodes.  


Some triggers to AIWS symptoms could be having infections such as Epstein-Barr virus, migraines, stress, cough medicine, hallucinogenic drugs, epilepsy, stroke, or brain tumor.


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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators.

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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years. Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles. Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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