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    Types of Seizures

    Learn about the different types of seizures.

    Types of Seizures


    Epilepsy and Seizures

    Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain. People are diagnosed with epilepsy when they have had two or more seizures.

    There are many types of seizures. A person with epilepsy can have more than one type of seizure.

    The signs of a seizure depend on the type of seizure.

    Sometimes it is hard to tell when a person is having a seizure. A person having a seizure may seem confused or look like they are staring at something that isn’t there. Other seizures can cause a person to fall, shake, and become unaware of what’s going on around them.

    Learn about different types of seizures and their signs and symptoms so you can tell when someone is having a seizure.

    Visit our first aid page to learn what you can do to keep that person safe until the seizure stops by itself.

    Major Types of Seizures

    Seizures are classified into two groups.Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain.Absence seizures, sometimes called petit mal seizures, can cause rapid blinking or a few seconds of staring into space.Tonic-clonic seizures, also called grand mal seizures, can make a person

    Cry out. Lose consciousness. Fall to the ground.

    Have muscle jerks or spasms.

    The person may feel tired after a tonic-clonic seizure.

    Focal seizures are located in just one area of the brain. These seizures are also called partial seizures.Simple focal seizures affect a small part of the brain. These seizures can cause twitching or a change in sensation, such as a strange taste or smell.Complex focal seizures can make a person with epilepsy confused or dazed. The person will be unable to respond to questions or direction for up to a few minutes.Secondary generalized seizures begin in one part of the brain, but then spread to both sides of the brain. In other words, the person first has a focal seizure, followed by a generalized seizure.

    Seizures may last as long as a few minutes.

    Words that describe generalized seizures

    These words are used to describe generalized seizures:

    Tonic: Muscles in the body become stiff.Atonic: Muscles in the body relax.Myoclonic: Short jerking in parts of the body.Clonic: Periods of shaking or jerking parts on the body.

    Call 911 if a Seizure Lasts More Than 5 Minutes

    Not all seizures are emergencies.

    Keep track of how long the seizure lasts. Call 911 if a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or if the person gets injured during the seizure.

    Learn seizure first aid to respond when a person is having a seizure.

    More about Epilepsy About Epilepsy Seizure First Aid Epilepsy Fast Facts Managing Epilepsy

    Source : www.cdc.gov

    Types of Seizures

    A seizure is a burst of uncontrolled signals between brain cells. This burst of electrical activity can causes stiffness, twitching, changes in behavior, sensations or awareness.


    Types of Seizures

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    What is a seizure?

    A seizure is a burst of uncontrolled electrical activity between brain cells (also called neurons or nerve cells) that causes temporary abnormalities in muscle tone or movements (stiffness, twitching or limpness), behaviors, sensations or states of awareness.

    Seizures are not all alike. A seizure can be a single event due to an acute cause, such as medication. When a person has recurring seizures, this is known as epilepsy.


    Seizures symptoms vary and can include a sudden change in awareness or full loss of consciousness, unusual sensations or thoughts, involuntary twitching or stiffness in the body or severe stiffening and limb shaking with loss of consciousness (a convulsion.)

    There are two major classes or groups of seizures: focal onset and generalized onset.

    Focal onset seizures start in one area and can spread across the brain and cause mild or severe symptoms, depending on how the electrical discharges spread.

    Generalized seizures can start as focal seizures that spread to both sides of the brain. They also can occur as “generalized onset” seizures in which seizure activity starts simultaneously over both sides of the brain. Generalized onset seizures usually start during childhood and are similar to a thermostat surge or a light flash — abnormal regulation between parts of the brain causes the seizures.

    Seizures of all kinds are most commonly treated with medication, and, if they are difficult to control, with diet therapy, nerve stimulation or surgery.

    It is important for the doctor to get an accurate seizure diagnosis in order to implement the most appropriate kind of treatment. Focal and generalized onset seizures usually have different causes and accurately diagnosing seizure types often helps identify the cause for the seizures.

    Whether or not the doctor can determine the cause for an individual’s seizures, treatment will likely mean medication. Seizures that are difficult to control may be improved with nerve stimulation or diet therapy. Patients whose seizures are due to a focal scar or other lesions in the brain may be good candidates for epilepsy surgery.

    Focal, or Partial Seizures

    Focal seizures are also called partial seizures since they begin in one area of the brain. They can be caused by any type of focal injury that leaves scar tangles. Medical history or MRI will identify a cause (such as trauma, stroke or meningitis) in about half of the people who have focal seizures. Developmental scars — ones that occur as part of fetal and early growth of the brain — are common causes of focal seizures in children.

    Focal Seizures: What Happens

    Focal seizures can start in one part of the brain and spread to other areas, causing symptoms that are mild or severe, depending on how much of the brain becomes involved.

    At first, the person may notice minor symptoms, which is referred to as an aura. The person may have altered feelings or sense that something is about to happen (premonition). Some people experiencing an aura describe a rising sensation in the stomach similar to riding on a roller coaster.

    As the seizure spreads across the brain, more symptoms appear. If the abnormal electrical activity involves a large area of the brain, the person may feel confused or dazed, or experience minor shaking, muscle stiffening, or fumbling or chewing motions. Focal seizures that cause altered awareness are called focal unaware seizures or complex partial seizures.

    The electrical activity of the seizure can remain in one sensory or motor area of the brain, resulting in a focal aware seizure (also called simple partial seizure). The person is aware of what is happening, and may notice unusual sensations and movements.

    Focal seizures can evolve into major events that spread to the entire brain and cause tonic-clonic seizures. These seizures are important to treat and prevent since they can cause respiratory problems and injuries.

    Generalized-onset Seizures

    Generalized-onset seizures are surges of abnormal nerve discharges throughout the cortex of the brain more or less at the same time. The most common cause is an imbalance in the “brakes” (inhibitory circuits) and “accelerator” (excitatory circuits) of electrical activity in the brain.

    Generalized-onset Seizures: Genetic Considerations

    Generalized seizures may have a genetic component, but only a small number of people with generalized seizures have family members with the same condition. There is a slight increase in risk for generalized seizures in the children or other family members of an affected person with generalized seizures, but the severity of the seizures can vary from person to person. Genetic testing may reveal a cause for generalized seizures.

    Sleep deprivation or drinking large amounts of alcohol can increase the excitatory response and increase the risk of generalized-onset seizures, especially in people with a genetic tendency to have them.

    Source : www.hopkinsmedicine.org

    Types of Seizures

    Types of seizures are classified by onset or beginning of a seizure: focal, generalized, or unknown. Learn about the new classification of seizure

    What Is Epilepsy?

    Types of Seizures

    On this page:

    There are many different types of seizures.

    How are seizures classified now?

    How are different symptoms during a seizure described?

    What if I don’t know what type of seizures I or my loved one have?

    How can I learn more?

    There are many different types of seizures.

    New terms to describe and classify seizures have been developed by the International League Against Epilepsy. This was done to make the names of seizures more accurate, less confusing, and more descriptive of what is happening.

    Listen to Drs. Joe Sirven and Bob Fisher discuss the changes in this episode of our  "Hallway Conversations" podcast series:

    The new terms consider these important areas when describing seizures.

    The onset or beginning of a seizure: Where seizures start in the brain tells a lot about what may occur during a seizure, what other conditions or symptoms may be seen, how they may affect someone and, most importantly, what treatment may be best for that seizure type. When we don’t know the onset of a seizure, the wrong treatment may be used. Or a person may not be offered a treatment that has the best chance of helping.A person’s level of awareness during a seizure: Whether a person is aware or not tells a lot about the type of seizure. It’s also very important to know for a person’s safety.Whether movements happen during a seizure: Seizures can also be described by whether motor symptoms occur. When no motor symptoms happen, it can be called a non-motor seizure. This level of description does not need to be used all the time, especially when generally describing or talking about seizures. Yet other times you may find the motor terms helpful.

    Learn More:

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    How are seizures classified now?

    There are now 3 major groups of seizures.

    Generalized onset seizures:

    These seizures affect both sides of the brain or groups of cells on both sides of the brain at the same time. This term was used before and still includes seizures types like tonic-clonic, absence, or atonic to name a few.

    Focal onset seizures:

    The term focal is used instead of partial to be more accurate when talking about where seizures begin. Focal seizures can start in one area or group of cells in one side of the brain.

    Focal Onset Aware Seizures: When a person is awake and aware during a seizure, it’s called a focal aware seizure. This used to be called a simple partial seizure.Focal Onset Impaired Awareness: When a person is confused or their awareness is affected in some way during a focal seizure, it’s called a focal impaired awareness seizure. This used to be called a complex partial seizure.

    Unknown onset seizures:

    When the beginning of a seizure is not known, it’s now called an unknown onset seizure. A seizure could also be called an unknown onset if it’s not witnessed or seen by anyone, for example when seizures happen at night or in a person who lives alone.

    As more information is learned, an unknown onset seizure may later be diagnosed as a focal or generalized seizure.

    How are different symptoms during a seizure described?

    Many different symptoms happen during a seizure. This new classification separates them simply into groups that involve movement.

    For generalized onset seizures:Motor symptoms may include sustained rhythmical jerking movements (clonic), muscles becoming weak or limp (atonic), muscles becoming tense or rigid (tonic), brief muscle twitching (myoclonus), or epileptic spasms (body flexes and extends repeatedly).Non-motor symptoms are usually called absence seizures. These can be typical or atypical absence seizures (staring spells). Absence seizures can also have brief twitches (myoclonus) that can affect a specific part of the body or just the eyelids.For focal onset seizures:Motor symptoms may also include jerking (clonic), muscles becoming limp or weak (atonic), tense or rigid muscles (tonic), brief muscle twitching (myoclonus), or epileptic spasms. There may also be automatisms or repeated automatic movements, like clapping or rubbing of hands, lipsmacking or chewing, or running.Non-motor symptoms: Examples of symptoms that don’t affect movement could be changes in sensation, emotions, thinking or cognition, autonomic functions (such as gastrointestinal sensations, waves of heat or cold, goosebumps, heart racing, etc.), or lack of movement (called behavior arrest).For unknown onset seizures:Motor seizures are described as either tonic-clonic or epileptic spasms.Non-motor seizures usually include a behavior arrest. This means that movement stops – the person may just stare and not make any other movements.

    What if I don’t know what type of seizures I or my loved one have?

    It’s not unusual that a person doesn’t know the type of seizure they have. Often seizures are diagnosed based on descriptions of what an observer has seen. These descriptions may not be fully complete or one can’t tell where a seizure begins from this information.

    Source : www.epilepsy.com

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