Symptoms of Seizure

By  , Expert Content
Aug 31, 2012

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There are several different types of seizures and its symptoms depend on the type of seizure. In some seizures, people can only shake hands slightly without loss of consciousness whereas in some other type of seizure, the person may become unconscious and experience violent shaking of the entire body.

Seizures can be classified as:

  • partial seizures—in this, only a small part of the brain is affected
  • generalised seizures—in this, most or all of the brain is affected

Symptoms of generalised seizures

Generalised seizure causes loss of consciousness and the entire body is affected by it. There are six main types of generalised seizure the symptoms of which depend on the type of seizure. Generalised tonic-clonic seizure is the most common and dramatic type of generalised seizure.

Symptoms of tonic-clonic seizure: In this type of seizure, the person loses consciousness and the body becomes stiff initially and with the arms and legs starting to twitch in the second phase. The initial phase of stiffness is called the "tonic" phase of seizure and lasts 30 to 60 seconds. The second phase of violent jerking is called the "clonic" phase. In this type of seizure, the person loses consciousness and may even pass urine or motion. In most cases, the seizure lasts between one and three minutes, but may often last longer.

Symptoms of absence seizure: The person loses consciousness or awareness for up to 20 seconds. This may happen hundreds of times in a day and occurs most often in children. The child has no memory of the seizure and is therefore, not aware of the seizure.

Symptoms of myoclonic jerks: The arms, legs or upper body may jerk or twitch suddenly as if the person has been given an electric shock. They usually last for a very short time (a fraction of a second). The person is conscious during this time.

Symptoms of Clonic seizure:  In this seizure also the person experiences twitching as myoclonic jerks, which are repetitive and rhythmic and involve both sides of the body. The seizures last for up to two minutes and the person may lose consciousness.

Symptoms of Atonic seizure: In this type of seizure, all the muscles relax gradually or suddenly. There is a chance that the person may fall.

Tonic seizure: In this type of seizure, all the muscles become stiff suddenly making the person lose balance and fall over.

Symptoms of partial seizures

Partial seizures can be classified as:

  • simple partial seizure in which the person remains fully conscious when the seizures occur
  • complex partial seizure in which the person loses consciousness (or awareness) during seizure and does not remember what happened during the seizure

Symptoms suggestive of a simple partial seizure include:

  • unusual changes in the way things appear, smell, feel, taste or sound
  • feeling of déjà vu (that the events have happened before)
  • unusual sensory feelings, such as tingling sensation or that of ‘pins and needles’ poking the arms and legs
  • involuntary jerking or twitching of part of the body, such as an arm, leg or corner of mouth
  • unusual emotional disturbance, such as fear or joy
  • stiffness of some muscles in your arms, legs and face or twitching on one side of your body (arms, legs and face)

Symptoms of a complex partial seizure include:

  • staring and non-purposeful movements, such as that of pointless moving or rubbing of hands or legs
  • repeated chewing, swallowing action or smacking of lips
  • making unusual purposeless noises
  • fiddling with clothes or objects
  • taking unusual posture

In this type of seizure, the person loses consciousness (awareness) and can’t remember what happened during the seizure.



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