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How do seizure disorders affect the body?

Seizures, also known as epilepsy, involve a malfunction of the natural electrical activity in the brain. In people with epilepsy, the electrical impulses that the brain's nerve cells (neurons) use to communicate are disrupted periodically. During this disruption, the neurons become overactive and try to send too many electrochemical impulses in too short a time; the result of this disruption in the neurons' activity is a seizure. This neurological disorder can affect the body in a variety of ways, depending on the location of the seizure in the brain. There are more than 30 different kinds of seizure, but they fall into two general categories based on how they affect the brain. Focal seizures, which are also called partial seizures, are limited to one part of the brain. There are a variety of symptoms of focal seizures, but physical manifestations can include nausea and involuntary repetitive movements. Generalized seizures affect a larger portion of the brain. They also include a variety of symptoms, often more severe in nature than those associated with focal seizures. Examples include muscle stiffness, jerks or twitches, falls, and loss of consciousness.

Seizure disorders may manifest differently depending on the particular type. The term seizure refers to an abnormal electrical activity which arises in the brain and leads to neurological symptoms, such as shaking or stiffening of the limbs, twitching of the muscles, staring, not being able to talk or loss of consciousness.

There are generally two categories of seizure: focal and generalized. With focal seizures only a small area of the brain is involved and consciousness is preserved. It may look like an involuntary movement of the arm or leg. With generalized tonic-clonic seizures the majority of the brain is involved, and it usually manifests as a generalized convulsion and is associated with a loss of consciousness. The generalized tonic-clonic seizures are often followed by a post-ictal state. During this time the person may feel sleepy, confused, disoriented or have violent behavior. This stage can last anywhere from several hours to several days. It is common to lose control of the bladder and bite the tongue during a generalized tonic-clonic seizure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.