A seizure is an uncontrolled and sudden electrical brain disturbance. Seizures can cause changes in your level of consciousness, movements and feelings, and even your behavior. If you have at least two or more seizures, or tend to have them reoccur, you most likely have epilepsy.
Seizures can range in severity and type, varying by when and they begin in the brain. An average seizure can last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, and if it lasts longer than five minutes it is declared a medical emergency.
Signs and symptoms of seizures can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of seizure. The signs and symptoms include:
- Temporary confusion
- Staring for an extended period of time
- Uncontrollable twitching movements of the legs and arms
- Loss of awareness of consciousness
- Cognitive or emotional symptoms such as déjà vu, anxiety or even fear
There are two types of seizures that doctors generally classify seizures by, focal seizures or generalized seizures.
- A focal seizure is the result of abnormal electrical activity in one area of your brain, and can occur with or without loss of consciousness.
- A focal seizure with impaired awareness involves a change or even a loss of consciousness or awareness. The victim could stare into space blankly and not respond in a normal manner to their environment, or they could perform repetitive movements such as walking in circles, swallowing, chewing or rubbing their hands together.
- A focal seizure without loss of consciousness may dramatically change the emotional state of the victim, or change the way that things look, smell, feel, taste or sound, without a loss of consciousness. You could also experience involuntary jerking or arms and legs, and even mild tingling, dizziness and flashing lights.
Generalized seizures involve all areas of the brain and may include multiple types and severity levels.
- An absence seizure, formally known as petit mal seizures, are most common in children and are characterized by subtle body movements accompanied by staring off into space. These seizures often occur in clusters and can cause brief loss of consciousness.
- A tonic seizure is characterized by stiffening of the muscles; usually affecting the back, arm, and leg muscles, causing you to fall to the ground.
- An atonic seizure, or drop seizure, will cause a complete loss of muscle control and cause the victim to fall or suddenly collapse to the ground.
- A clonic seizure is characterized by repeated jerking muscle movements. These seizures commonly affect the neck, face and arms.
- A myoclonic seizure is characterized by sudden and short jerks or twitches of your arms and legs.
- A tonic-clonic seizure, formally known as grand mal seizures, are the highest in severity and most dramatic epileptic seizure, and often cause a brief loss of consciousness, body shaking and rigidness, loss of bladder control, or even biting of the tongue.
Our dedicated staff at Complete Brain Center is here to help you through the process of defining and lessening your seizure episodes. It is imperative that if you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, that you schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today.