Posts Tagged seizures

[WEB SITE] Seizure Types and Symptoms of Epilepsy

Article written by Kelly Crumrin

Symptoms of epilepsy

Since epilepsy is a spectrum of neurological disorders and seizures that can affect any region of the brain, symptoms vary widely depending on the type of seizure. Most people will experience the same type of seizure each time, so symptoms should be similar from one seizure to the next. However, it is possible for a person to have multiple seizure types.

Seizure types

There are many different kinds of seizures, but they can be classified into three main types:

  • Focal onset seizure
  • Generalized onset seizure
  • Unknown onset seizure

These seizure types describe where in the brain the seizure starts, the level of awareness during the seizure, and whether or not the seizure involves movement. The wording in this article is based on a new classification system developed in 2017 by the International League Against Epilepsy. You may also encounter older classification systems.

Generalized onset seizures

Generalized onset seizures affect both sides of the brain – or the same groups of cells on both sides of the brain – at the same time, leading to a loss of consciousness and postictal (after the seizure) fatigue.

Generalized tonic-clonic (GTC) seizures were previously known as grand mal seizures. There are five distinct phases to this type of seizure, though not everyone will experience all five. During the tonic phase, the body, arms, and legs will flex, then straighten, then shake. In the clonic period, contraction and relaxation of the muscles follow. The seizure ends with the postictal period, during which fatigue, vision and speech problems, and head and body aches are common. GTC seizures may be proceeded by an aura, which is sometimes actually a focal onset aware seizure (see below). Tonic-clonic seizures may also cause vomiting and loss of bladder control.

Absence seizures, formerly referred to as petit mal, typically last less than 30 seconds. Absence seizures cause a short period of staring and altered consciousness. Most likely, the person will remain standing or sitting upright. The eyes may blink rapidly, or the face or mouth may twitch. After the seizure, they may not remember what just happened. Absence seizures may happen multiple times a day.

Atonic or akinetic seizures, also called drop attacks, cause a sudden loss of muscle tone. A person may suddenly drop their head or fall from a standing position. During the seizure, the body will be limp and unresponsive.

Myoclonic seizures often occur in clusters. Myoclonic seizures cause quick movements or the sudden jerking of muscles. Myoclonic seizures may happen multiple times a day or for multiple days in a row.

Clonic seizures cause jerking, rhythmic motions of the arms and legs, sometimes affecting the face and neck. Clonic seizures can occur on both sides of the body.

Tonic seizures cause the muscles to stiffen suddenly. Tonic seizures can last as long as 20 seconds. If a person is standing when a tonic seizure begins, they usually fall.

Focal onset seizures

Focal seizures affect only one part of the brain. In the past, focal onset seizures were referred to as partial seizures.

Focal onset aware seizures, previously called simple partial seizures, begin in one part or one group of cells of the brain. If a person is awake and aware during the seizure, it is called a focal onset aware seizure. Symptoms of a focal onset seizure vary depending on which part of the brain it affects, but may include visual disturbances, isolated muscle twitching, sweating, nausea, intense emotions, or unusual sensations. Focal onset aware seizures can sometimes precede a tonic-clonic seizure, leading some people to regard them as auras, warning signs, or premonitions of an oncoming generalized seizure.

During focal onset impaired awareness seizures, formerly referred to as complex partial seizures, a person may be confused, appear awake but be unresponsive, or become unconscious. Other behaviors during focal onset impaired awareness seizures may include chewing, gagging, laughing, crying, screaming, or running. Seizures last between 30 seconds to one minute. After the seizure, extreme fatigue is common.

Secondary generalized seizures begin in one part of the brain but then spread to both sides. A secondary generalized seizure is actually two seizures: a focal seizure followed by a generalized seizure.

Unknown onset seizures

In some cases, it is not known how or where the seizure begins. Seizures are considered unknown onset seizures if the seizure happens when a person is alone, when no one is present to witness the seizure. A doctor may be able to diagnose the seizure later as a focal or generalized seizure if more information is learned.


In some people with epilepsy, certain circumstances can trigger a seizure. Triggers vary from person to person, but among the most common are:

  • Stress
  • Missing a dose of medication
  • Lack of sleep
  • Flashing lights
  • Alcohol
  • Hormonal changes related to menstruation in women
  • Fever or infection
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Caffeine and other stimulants
  • Pain
  • Certain medications

Identifying seizure triggers allows a person with epilepsy to avoid their triggers and hopefully to have fewer seizures. Keeping a seizure diary is a good way to identify triggers. When a seizure occurs, note the date and time, any special situations surrounding the seizure, and how it felt. There are many apps and websites that can help you track seizures and triggers.


External resources

MyEpilepsyTeam resources


Is it possible to have more than one seizure type?

Yes, a person with epilepsy can experience different types of seizures.

What are febrile seizures?

Febrile seizures are those triggered by high fevers. As many as 5 percent of children under the age of 6 experience febrile seizures. Febrile seizures are usually connected to viral or bacterial infection such as the flu, roseola, or tonsillitis. A child who has febrile seizures does not have epilepsy; however, children who experience febrile seizures do have an increased risk of developing epilepsy later in life.

If I have a seizure, do I have epilepsy?

It is possible to have seizures that are not caused by epilepsy. Nonepileptic seizures can look and feel like epileptic seizures, but they do not involve abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Nonepileptic seizures can have several different causes. Febrile seizures are one common example. Another type of nonepileptic seizure is the psychogenic seizure. Psychogenic seizures are caused by psychological stress, sometimes related to an anxiety disorder. Nonepileptic seizures can also be caused by heart problems and metabolic conditions such as diabetes. Women are at a higher risk for nonepileptic seizures. It is possible for someone who has epilepsy to experience one or more nonepileptic seizures.

What is status epilepticus?

Status epilepticus describes a prolonged seizure or a series of multiple seizures that occur too rapidly for recovery between each one. Most doctors today consider a seizure or seizure series of at least five minutes in duration to qualify as status epilepticus. In previous years, status epilepticus was pronounced at 20 minutes in duration. The longer a seizure lasts, the less likely it will end without medication. Prolonged seizures are dangerous and can raise the risk of death.

What is an aura?

Some people with epilepsy experience an unusual emotion or sensation, called an aura or warning, immediately before a seizure occurs. An aura may be a visual disturbance, such as colorful lights; an emotion, such as joy or fear; a physical sensation, such as tingling, twitching, or stiffness in a body part, or a sensation that is harder to describe, such as one arm feeling larger than the other, a wave going through the head, or déjà vu. An aura is actually a focal aware seizure, which in some people spreads into a generalized seizure. When a focal aware seizure spreads into a generalized seizure, it may be referred to as a secondary generalized seizure.

What are reflex epilepsies?

For some people with epilepsy, seizures consistently occur as a result of exposure to a certain situation or stimulus, as if the seizures are a reflex. This variety of epilepsy is known as reflex epilepsy, which is found in 4 to 7 percent of people with epilepsy.

via Seizure Types and Symptoms of Epilepsy | MyEpilepsyTeam

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[ARTICLE] Principles of Epilepsy Management for Women in Their Reproductive Years – Full Text

In the United States, there are over one million women with epilepsy (WWE) in their childbearing years. Pregnancy can be challenging for this population. A number of international registries have documented that children born to these women are at increased risk for major congenital malformations (MCM), lower intelligence quotient scores and neurodevelopmental disorders, when the mother is managed on antiseizure medications (ASMs). To prevent poor neonatal outcomes for this population, safe and thoughtful management strategies are necessary. We propose to divide these management strategies into five principles. These include (I) choosing suitable ASMs for the patient’s seizure type, (II) choosing an ASM with the least teratogenic and cognitive side effects, (III) dosing at the lowest possible effective dosage, (IV) selecting the best ASM regimen as promptly as possible, even before a woman has her first menses, and (V) supplementing these patients with folic acid in order to try to enhance cognition and reduce neural tube defects.


In the United States, there are over one million WWE in their childbearing years (1). Because of the reproductive potential of these women their management can often differ from males and post-menopausal women.

Management of seizures is traditionally guided by the classification of seizures as focal or generalized in onset. Thankfully, there are ASMs that can treat seizures in each classification. That selection is then narrowed down further in WWE based on the teratogenicity potential of these ASMs that is available from the various pregnancy registries. These registries include the North American Pregnancy Registry, The UK & Ireland Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register, EURAP Registry (includes 44 countries all around the world) and the Australian Registry.

Along with an increase of MCM some ASMs can also lead to lower intelligence quotient scores, and neurodevelopmental disorders (1). Unintended pregnancies further complicate this risk as they often lead to inadequate or delayed initiation of prenatal care and an increased risk for fetal exposure teratogenic substances such as alcohol and nicotine (2). In 2011, there were 45 unintended pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15–44 years (3). Similar rates are reflected worldwide in other developed countries, but are substantially higher in developing countries at 65 unintended pregnancies for every 1,000 women age 15–44 years (4). It is thus evident that WWE in their reproductive years require different management strategies to improve their healthcare outcomes as well as the health of their potential offspring.[…]

Continue —-> Frontiers | Principles of Epilepsy Management for Women in Their Reproductive Years | Neurology

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[BLOG POST]What is epilepsy? A neurological disorder that causes seizures. – NARIC

According to the Mayo Clinicepilepsy is a “central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.” Anyone can develop epilepsy and it affects all genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, and ages. Symptoms can vary widely, from staring blankly for a few seconds during a seizure to twitching of arms or legs, and may include temporary confusion, loss of consciousness or awareness, and psychiatric symptoms such as fear or anxiety. Epilepsy has no identifiable cause in about half the people with the condition. For the other half of the population with epilepsy, the condition may be traced to various factors, including genetic influence, head trauma, brain conditions, infectious diseases, prenatal injury, or developmental disorders. There are certain risk factors that may increase a person’s risk of epilepsy, which include age, family history, head injuries, dementia, and stroke and other vascular diseases.

To diagnose a person with epilepsy, a doctor will review their symptoms and medical history, along with ordering a neurological exam and blood tests. They may also suggest other tests to detect brain abnormalities, such as electroencephalograms (EEG), computerized tomography (CT) scans, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, and/or a functional MRI. An accurate diagnosis of a person’s seizure type and where seizures begin gives the best chance for finding an effective treatment. Doctors may begin treatment of epilepsy with medications, which may help people become seizure-free. For some people, medications may not treat their epilepsy and their doctor may suggest surgery or different types of therapies, such as vagus nerve stimulation, a ketogenic diet, or deep brain stimulation.

Researchers continue to study epilepsy and are studying many potential new interventions for epilepsy, including responsive neurostimulation and minimally invasive surgery. During the last 28 years, NIDILRR has funded several projects to study the impact of epilepsy and develop and test interventions, including a currently funded project that is studying a home-based self-management and cognitive training program to improve the quality of life for people with refractory epilepsy.  NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 1,500 research articles, book chapters, and factsheets related to epilepsy from the NIDILRR community and beyond. If you have any questions about epilepsy or would like assistance in conducting your own search in NARIC’s databases, contact NARIC’s information specialists for more information.

Please note: This article provides basic information and is not intended to diagnose or recommend interventions for epilepsy. If you believe you have experienced a seizure, seek medical advice from a qualified primary care provider or specialist.

via What is epilepsy? A neurological disorder that causes seizures. | Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center

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[ARTICLE] Basic and clinical role of vitamins in epilepsy – Full Text PDF


Background & Aims: Epilepsy is a brain disorder which affects about 50 million people worldwide. Good diet is an essential measure to controlling seizure attacks. Since some combination therapy can reduce epileptogenesis, therefore this review summarizes the available evidences about the application of vitamins in animal models and humans for understanding what specific combinations of antiepileptic drugs and vitamins are likely to be effective for epilepsy therapy.

Material and methods: In this review, electronic databases including PubMed and Google Scholar were searched for monotherapy and polytherapy by vitamins.

Results: Administration of vit A inhibits development of seizures and lethality in animal models. Also vitamins B1, B6 and B12 pretreatment might lead to a protective effect against degenerative cellular in mice. In addition use of low dose of sodium valproate with vitamins C or E increase the anticonvulsant activity of the drug in mice. Moreover, Vitamin D enhances antiepileptic effects of lamotrigine, phenytoin and valproate in animal’s models. Vitamin E has an anticonvulsant effect in ferrous chloride seizures, hyperbaric oxygen seizures as well as penicillin-induced seizures in contrast kindling, maximal electroshock and kainite models. Some researches demonstrated that vitamins D and B as adjunctive therapy in epileptic patient can relieve seizures. A clinical data have shown beneficial effects of vitamin E in raising total antioxidant capacity, catalase, and glutathione in patients with uncontrolled epilepsy. Only few clinical studies exist to support the efficacy of the vitamin A and K in epilepsy.

Conclusion: However vitamin therapy is not a substitute for antiepileptic drugs but add on therapy by them may relieve drugs-induced deficiencies as well as more researches are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of vitamins in epileptic humans.


Full Text PDF

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[WEB PAGE] The ABCs of CBD: Separating fact from fiction – NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

CBD. Cannabidiol. No matter what you call it, you may have heard health claims about this little-known part of the marijuana plant, which comes from the plant’s flowers. Some say it treats muscle aches, anxiety, sleeping troubles, chronic pain, and more.

But what does the science say?

We spoke to NIH expert Susan Weiss, Ph.D., to learn more and find out why consumers should be careful. Dr. Weiss is the director of the division of extramural research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

What is CBD?

CBD (or cannabidiol) comes from the cannabis (or marijuana) plant.

The chemical compound THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] is the part of the cannabis plant that most people are familiar with because that is the part that makes people “high.” Most effects of marijuana that people think of are caused by THC.

Most recreational marijuana has very little CBD in it. CBD products are available through dispensaries, health food and convenience stores, and the internet. It’s a widely used product that’s not regulated—and is not legal to sell for its largely unproven health benefits.

How does CBD work?

Nobody really knows what is responsible for the mental and physical health benefits that have been attributed to it. CBD affects the body’s serotonin system, which controls our moods. It also affects several other signaling pathways, but we really don’t understand its mechanisms of action yet.

How much do we know about CBD as a potential treatment?

There are over 50 conditions that CBD is claimed to treat.

We do know that CBD can help control serious seizure disorders in some children (e.g., Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes) that don’t respond well to other treatments. Epidiolex is an FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approved medication containing CBD that can be used for this purpose.

There’s also data to suggest the potential of CBD as a treatment for schizophrenia and for substance use disorders. But these potential uses are in extremely early stages of development.

Are there side effects?

We don’t know of any severe side effects at this time. But there were mild side effects reported in the epilepsy studies, mostly gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea. There were also some reported drug-to-drug interactions. That’s why, for safety reasons, it’s important that CBD or any cannabis product go through the FDA review process.

Are there any specific CBD studies that you are focused on?

We are interested in CBD as a potential treatment of substance use disorders.

There is some research looking at it for opioid, tobacco, and alcohol use disorders. If CBD can help prevent relapse in those areas, that would be really interesting. We’re also interested in it for pain management. Trying to find less addictive medications for pain would help a lot of people.

What else would you like people to know?

Buyer beware.

We are concerned about the health claims being exaggerated or incorrect. The FDA issued warning letters to several companies because of untested health claims. And the CBD products themselves didn’t always contain the amount of CBD that they were reported to have—some actually had THC in them.

Another concern is that people are using CBD to treat ailments for which we have FDA-approved medications. Thus, they may be missing out on better treatments. And when they’re using CBD or other cannabis products for conditions we don’t know very much about, that’s worrisome.

via The ABCs of CBD: Separating fact from fiction | NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

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[WEB SITE] Causes of Seizures and Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a spectrum of neurological disorders involving recurring seizures. It is also possible to have nonepileptic seizures – seizures that are not caused by an epileptic disorder. Epilepsy and seizures have many different causes.

Epilepsy is not contagious. When the cause of a person’s epilepsy is known, it is called symptomatic or secondary epilepsy. Epilepsy with unknown causes is referred to as idiopathic or cryptogenic epilepsy. Some epilepsy is inherited or due to a genetic mutation. In other cases, epilepsy is structural in origin, resulting from brain damage or abnormal brain development.

Causes of epilepsy are often linked to the person’s age at diagnosis. In infants who have seizures, the cause is usually genetic or due to brain damage that happened during pregnancy or birth. In children, the cause of epilepsy could be genetic or due to fever, infection, or brain tumor. In people over 35, most epilepsy is caused by brain damage resulting from a stroke.

Genetic causes of epilepsy

Genes are known to play a role in approximately 30 to 40 percent of epilepsy cases. About 4 percent of Americans will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives. Having a first-degree relative (parent, child, or sibling) makes you two to four times more likely to develop epilepsy. It is common for family members who have epilepsy to have different types from one another.

Many cases of epilepsy are caused by a gene mutation, usually on a gene responsible for the activity of neurons in the brain. However, many people with a genetic mutation will never have seizures or develop epilepsy – an indication that genes are not the only factor that plays a role. When a genetic mutation occurs, seizures may be the first indication of a larger set of problems.

Hereditary types of epilepsy include juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME), childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+), photosensitive epilepsy, and focal seizures.

Some of the known genetic causes of epilepsy are: Angelman syndrome, Doose syndrome (myoclonic astatic epilepsy), Down syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Panayiotopoulos syndrome (PS). Read more about other genetic causes of epilepsy.

There is an association between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and epilepsy. Approximately one-third of people on the autism spectrum also have epilepsy. Certain genetic syndromes, including Rett’s, fragile X, Prader-Willi, and Angelman, are associated with both seizures and autism. In children on the spectrum, intellectual disability increases the risk for developing epilepsy. An estimated 20 percent of autistic children with intellectual disability develop epilepsy, while 8 percent of those without intellectual problems begin having seizures. No specific type of epilepsy or severity of seizure is associated with ASD. The relationship between autism and epilepsy is poorly understood.

Some scientists believe there may be a genetic component to all forms of epilepsy. In other words, a person who starts having seizures always had a greater genetic likelihood to do so. If this is the case, when seizures begin after a brain injury or other structural change, it may be due to both the injury or change and the person’s genetic predisposition to seizures. This theory might explain why a brain injury might that leads to epilepsy in one person might not cause epilepsy in another person.

Structural causes of epilepsy

Abnormalities in the structure or metabolism (chemical processes) of the brain can cause seizures, some of which are considered nonepileptic seizures. Structural problems may be congenital (present at birth) or caused later by brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) including automobile crashes and violence, strokes, brain infections, or alcohol or drug abuse. In situations like these, normal brain structure is distorted or disrupted, resulting in abnormal brainwaves that trigger seizures.

Metabolic causes of epilepsy include extreme dehydration, prescribed or illegal drugs, or extremely high or low blood glucose, as in uncontrolled diabetes. Metabolic problems can deprive brain cells of the glucose they need for fuel, or lower levels of electrolytes such as sodium or potassium needed in order to function properly. The result is abnormal brainwaves that cause seizures. Inflammation, which may occur as a result of TBI or a chronic inflammatory condition such as lupus, can flood the brain with proteins that may trigger seizures.

Congenital brain damage may be caused by malnutrition, infection, trauma, or drug use during pregnancy, or it may be due to a genetic defect. Children who are born prematurely or deprived of oxygen during birth can develop brain damage that causes seizures. Many newborns outgrow their seizures after the first month, but a small number will have difficult-to-treat seizures that can be lifelong. Typically, 50 to 75 percent of children who have epilepsy will eventually achieve seizure remission. The chances for remission are higher if seizure frequency is low, seizures are well treated by anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), and there are no underlying neurological problems.

Epilepsy with unknown causes

“Idiopathic” comes from Greek words meaning “a disease of its own kind,” and it simply means that doctors do not know the cause. Similarly, “cryptogenic” comes from Greek words meaning “hidden cause.” As many as 60 percent of all epilepsies are the result of unknown causes. Certain types of seizures may stem from a scar or irritation on the brain, but the scar is undetectable by an MRI. If your doctor cannot identify the source of your epilepsy, you will be diagnosed with idiopathic or cryptogenic epilepsy. As brain imaging techniques improve, more causes of seizures will be identified.


External resources

MyEpilepsyTeam resources


Is epilepsy inherited?

Yes and no. Certain genetic mutations that cause epilepsy are directly inherited, while some cases of epilepsy have no known genetic connection. However, some scientists believe that people who develop epilepsy always had a greater genetic predisposition for seizures. For instance, only 10 percent of people who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) severe enough to require hospitalization develop epilepsy. Genes may be a risk factor that makes the difference between who develops seizures after a TBI and who does not.

If I have a seizure, do I have epilepsy?

Having one seizure does not mean that someone has epilepsy. In order to be diagnosed with epilepsy, a person must have had more than one seizure, and doctors must believe more seizures are likely. Some seizures are not related to epilepsy at all. Read more about how epilepsy is diagnosed.

via Causes of Seizures and Epilepsy | MyEpilepsyTeam

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[WEB SITE] Triggers and Epilepsy

Some common epileptic triggers are stress, eating certain foods, flashing lights, or even lack of sleep. Knowing what your triggers are may help when coping with epileptic seizures.

On MyEpilepsyTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with epilepsy, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Triggers are one of the top 10 topics most discussed.

Here are a few question-and-answer threads about triggers:

Has anyone noticed food triggers?

Who thinks that doing physical labor or exercise is a trigger?

Stress, lack of sleep, adrenaline rushes… what are other triggers you experience?

Here are some conversations about triggers:

I am stressing because I worry about my job and stress is a trigger for me.

•. Some of my triggers are overheating, eating MSG or citrus.

Christmas lights are a trigger for me.

Have another topic you’d like to discuss or explore? Go to MyEpilepsyTeam today and start the conversation.
You’ll be surprised just how many others may share similar stories.

via Triggers and Epilepsy | MyEpilepsyTeam

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[WEB PAGE] Epilepsy – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic


Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

Anyone can develop epilepsy. Epilepsy affects both males and females of all races, ethnic backgrounds and ages.

Seizure symptoms can vary widely. Some people with epilepsy simply stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure, while others repeatedly twitch their arms or legs. Having a single seizure doesn’t mean you have epilepsy. At least two unprovoked seizures are generally required for an epilepsy diagnosis.

Treatment with medications or sometimes surgery can control seizures for the majority of people with epilepsy. Some people require lifelong treatment to control seizures, but for others, the seizures eventually go away. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age.

Epilepsy care at Mayo Clinic


Because epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain, seizures can affect any process your brain coordinates. Seizure signs and symptoms may include:

  • Temporary confusion
  • A staring spell
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu

Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure. In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode.

Doctors generally classify seizures as either focal or generalized, based on how the abnormal brain activity begins.

Focal seizures

When seizures appear to result from abnormal activity in just one area of your brain, they’re called focal (partial) seizures. These seizures fall into two categories:

  • Focal seizures without loss of consciousness. Once called simple partial seizures, these seizures don’t cause a loss of consciousness. They may alter emotions or change the way things look, smell, feel, taste or sound. They may also result in involuntary jerking of a body part, such as an arm or leg, and spontaneous sensory symptoms such as tingling, dizziness and flashing lights.
  • Focal seizures with impaired awareness. Once called complex partial seizures, these seizures involve a change or loss of consciousness or awareness. During a complex partial seizure, you may stare into space and not respond normally to your environment or perform repetitive movements, such as hand rubbing, chewing, swallowing or walking in circles.

Symptoms of focal seizures may be confused with other neurological disorders, such as migraine, narcolepsy or mental illness. A thorough examination and testing are needed to distinguish epilepsy from other disorders.

Generalized seizures

Seizures that appear to involve all areas of the brain are called generalized seizures. Six types of generalized seizures exist.

  • Absence seizures. Absence seizures, previously known as petit mal seizures, often occur in children and are characterized by staring into space or subtle body movements such as eye blinking or lip smacking. These seizures may occur in clusters and cause a brief loss of awareness.
  • Tonic seizures. Tonic seizures cause stiffening of your muscles. These seizures usually affect muscles in your back, arms and legs and may cause you to fall to the ground.
  • Atonic seizures. Atonic seizures, also known as drop seizures, cause a loss of muscle control, which may cause you to suddenly collapse or fall down.
  • Clonic seizures. Clonic seizures are associated with repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements. These seizures usually affect the neck, face and arms.
  • Myoclonic seizures. Myoclonic seizures usually appear as sudden brief jerks or twitches of your arms and legs.
  • Tonic-clonic seizures. Tonic-clonic seizures, previously known as grand mal seizures, are the most dramatic type of epileptic seizure and can cause an abrupt loss of consciousness, body stiffening and shaking, and sometimes loss of bladder control or biting your tongue.

When to see a doctor

Seek immediate medical help if any of the following occurs:

  • The seizure lasts more than five minutes.
  • Breathing or consciousness doesn’t return after the seizure stops.
  • A second seizure follows immediately.
  • You have a high fever.
  • You’re experiencing heat exhaustion.
  • You’re pregnant.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You’ve injured yourself during the seizure.

If you experience a seizure for the first time, seek medical advice.


Epilepsy has no identifiable cause in about half the people with the condition. In the other half, the condition may be traced to various factors, including:

  • Genetic influence. Some types of epilepsy, which are categorized by the type of seizure you experience or the part of the brain that is affected, run in families. In these cases, it’s likely that there’s a genetic influence.

    Researchers have linked some types of epilepsy to specific genes, but for most people, genes are only part of the cause of epilepsy. Certain genes may make a person more sensitive to environmental conditions that trigger seizures.

  • Head trauma. Head trauma as a result of a car accident or other traumatic injury can cause epilepsy.
  • Brain conditions. Brain conditions that cause damage to the brain, such as brain tumors or strokes, can cause epilepsy. Stroke is a leading cause of epilepsy in adults older than age 35.
  • Infectious diseases. Infectious diseases, such as meningitis, AIDS and viral encephalitis, can cause epilepsy.
  • Prenatal injury. Before birth, babies are sensitive to brain damage that could be caused by several factors, such as an infection in the mother, poor nutrition or oxygen deficiencies. This brain damage can result in epilepsy or cerebral palsy.
  • Developmental disorders. Epilepsy can sometimes be associated with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis.

Risk factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of epilepsy:

  • Age. The onset of epilepsy is most common in children and older adults, but the condition can occur at any age.
  • Family history. If you have a family history of epilepsy, you may be at an increased risk of developing a seizure disorder.
  • Head injuries. Head injuries are responsible for some cases of epilepsy. You can reduce your risk by wearing a seat belt while riding in a car and by wearing a helmet while bicycling, skiing, riding a motorcycle or engaging in other activities with a high risk of head injury.
  • Stroke and other vascular diseases. Stroke and other blood vessel (vascular) diseases can lead to brain damage that may trigger epilepsy. You can take a number of steps to reduce your risk of these diseases, including limiting your intake of alcohol and avoiding cigarettes, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
  • Dementia. Dementia can increase the risk of epilepsy in older adults.
  • Brain infections. Infections such as meningitis, which causes inflammation in your brain or spinal cord, can increase your risk.
  • Seizures in childhood. High fevers in childhood can sometimes be associated with seizures. Children who have seizures due to high fevers generally won’t develop epilepsy. The risk of epilepsy increases if a child has a long seizure, another nervous system condition or a family history of epilepsy.


Having a seizure at certain times can lead to circumstances that are dangerous to yourself or others.

  • Falling. If you fall during a seizure, you can injure your head or break a bone.
  • Drowning. If you have epilepsy, you’re 15 to 19 times more likely to drown while swimming or bathing than the rest of the population because of the possibility of having a seizure while in the water.
  • Car accidents. A seizure that causes either loss of awareness or control can be dangerous if you’re driving a car or operating other equipment.

    Many states have driver’s license restrictions related to a driver’s ability to control seizures and impose a minimum amount of time that a driver be seizure-free, ranging from months to years, before being allowed to drive.

  • Pregnancy complications. Seizures during pregnancy pose dangers to both mother and baby, and certain anti-epileptic medications increase the risk of birth defects. If you have epilepsy and you’re considering becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor as you plan your pregnancy.

    Most women with epilepsy can become pregnant and have healthy babies. You’ll need to be carefully monitored throughout pregnancy, and medications may need to be adjusted. It’s very important that you work with your doctor to plan your pregnancy.

  • Emotional health issues. People with epilepsy are more likely to have psychological problems, especially depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Problems may be a result of difficulties dealing with the condition itself as well as medication side effects.

Other life-threatening complications of epilepsy are uncommon, but may happen, such as:

  • Status epilepticus. This condition occurs if you’re in a state of continuous seizure activity lasting more than five minutes or if you have frequent recurrent seizures without regaining full consciousness in between them. People with status epilepticus have an increased risk of permanent brain damage and death.
  • Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). People with epilepsy also have a small risk of sudden unexpected death. The cause is unknown, but some research shows it may occur due to heart or respiratory conditions.

    People with frequent tonic-clonic seizures or people whose seizures aren’t controlled by medications may be at higher risk of SUDEP. Overall, about 1 percent of people with epilepsy die of SUDEP.


via Epilepsy – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

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[Abstract] The hidden side of travel: Epilepsy and tourism


    Reveals how the invisible disability of epilepsy affects the travel experience

    Social stigma of epilepsy is found to have greater impact on travel than seizures.

    Illuminates the plurality of lived experiences of disability in a travel context

    Problematises travel as visible, an escape from normality, independent and authentic

    Challenges the discourse of visibility in the disablist environment of tourism


Previous tourism research has examined the barriers and travel experiences of people with physical/mobility and sensory impairments. This paper advances tourism knowledge by revealing the travel experiences of people with the invisible and stigmatising condition of epilepsy. The study employed a phenomenological approach to explore whether, and how, the hidden neurological condition affects the travel experience. Analysis of the data revealed three main themes relating to the experience of travel for individuals with epilepsy: seizure episodesinvisibility of the condition; and managing anxiety. The paper illuminates the hidden side of travel for people with epilepsy and its social stigma, and problematises the socially constructed nature of travel as mostly visible, an escape from normality, independent and authentic.

via The hidden side of travel: Epilepsy and tourism – ScienceDirect

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[WEB SITE] The Parts of Epilepsy We Often Don’t Talk About


Growing up, my biggest secret was that I had epilepsy. I have had it since I was 5.  Neurologists kept saying, “She’ll grow out of it.” I’ve tried medication after medication, trying to control the seizures and limit the number of side effects.  I’ve tried weaning off medication, only for a seizure to return within one or two days. Life becomes more bearable when my seizures are controlled, but I never feel carefree.  Epilepsy is much more than having seizures.

With my epilepsy comes fear.  I am constantly cautious and afraid.  I am afraid of having a seizure during school, at work or in public.  Although I’ve been seizure-free for over a year, I am afraid of driving down the road and feeling that tingling in my stomach and not being able to pull the car over quickly or safely enough. I am afraid of injuring my brain and body beyond repair. I am afraid of who will see me. I am afraid of waking up from a seizure and being alone. I am afraid of forgetting my medication.

With my epilepsy comes depression. For me, epilepsy has always brought along depression for company. With each anti-seizure medication, the depression waxes and wanes, but it always lingers like a permanent resident in my brain.  When I am honest about my suicidal thoughts, doctors prescribe an antidepressant. We both hope the depression will fade, but I am usually met with a new set of side effects.  Together, both conditions appear invincible, but I always fight back. Depression tells me to die instead of taking the pills from the container. Depression tells me the darkness is here to stay.  Depression steals my energy and my smiles. When I am always outnumbered, and the fight is unfair, I wonder how much of who I have become is due to the medication and how much is truly me.

Too often, with epilepsy comes shame. All through grade school, I heard kids at school make fun of seizures and even pretend to have seizures. I listened and watched. As one of the quietest students in class, my lips felt zippered shut, but my face turned red. They did not know what it feels like to lose control of your body. They didn’t know what it was like to wake up confused and disoriented, not knowing how long the seizure lasted or what was happening before it. I was not brave enough to speak up.

My closest friends didn’t know I had epilepsy. I snuck away at sleepovers to take my medication at 8:00 p.m. I made excuses as to why I couldn’t drive, why I wouldn’t drink alcohol, why I occasionally arrived to school late, why I visited a hospital that was over an hour away rather than the local doctor’s office, or why there was a bruise on my forehead.  When I started telling people outside of my family, they would reply with phrases such as “I didn’t know that you were an epileptic,” “I need to be careful around you,” or “At least it’s not something terminal.” They may not have known their words were insensitive or hurtful, but I have never been met with comfort or acceptance after telling my story. Only shame.

Epilepsy can be somewhat of an invisible illness. Sometimes I can hide it. Other times, I can’t. Epilepsy is much more than having seizures.  For some people, myself included, it’s a lifelong challenge.

Having epilepsy can mean battling depression, anxiety, insomnia, muscle weakness, lethargy, weight gain, and a host of other negative side effects from seizures and medications. It can mean staying home from work or school because of an aura. It can mean keeping secrets from best friends. It can mean refusing to give up regardless of what others think and say, how many medications you’ve tried, and the side effects that never subside. I have often wondered who I would be without epilepsy. While I fight the shame and stigma within myself, I have learned and accepted that epilepsy is a part of who I am.

But only one part.


If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

via Epilepsy Is About More Than Seizures | The Mighty

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