Seizure disorders, also known as epilepsy, can cause a wide range of symptoms, some mild and some severe. There are over 30 different kinds of seizures and they can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Contrary to popular belief, not all seizures involve a person collapsing and having violent convulsions.
A seizure is caused by a malfunction in the brain's nerve cells (neurons), and the symptoms often depend on how long that malfunction lasts and how much of the brain is affected. For example, the symptoms of some relatively minor seizures that affect just one part of the brain could include momentary confusion, hallucinations, unusual emotions or sensations, nausea, or the involuntary jerking of an arm or a leg. More severe seizures that involve more of the brain can involve such symptoms as loss of consciousness, convulsions, loss of muscle control, or involuntary repetitive movements. Other common symptoms of seizures include staring into space; stiffening the muscles in the back, legs, and arms; and experiencing dreamlike feelings of altered consciousness. Some people with epilepsy experience unusual feelings that warn the person that a seizure is about to happen. These sensations are known as auras and are actually a type of localized seizure themselves.