What is a seizure?

A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that can cause convulsions, quick jerky movements of the limbs or short periods of blank staring or disorientation. While some seizures involve the entire body, partial seizures may affect only one limb or one portion of the body.

Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

A seizure is often described as haphazard electrical discharges of the brain that causes parts of the body to move erratically. There are a number of things that can trigger a seizure. Seizures are often the result of illness, head injury, stroke, aneurysm, low blood sugar, poisoning and high fever. Children up to age 5 are especially prone to fever-related seizures. Seizure activity can appear many different ways. Seizures will almost always spontaneously stop, and the victim will have a period of drowsiness, confusion or sleep before gradual awakening.

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Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in your brain. How our seizure is classified is by the area or site of disturbance in your brain. Seizures are divided into two major classes: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures involves both sides of the brain. Partial seizures may only be confined to one side of the brain but may spread to the entire brain. A person having a partial seizure generally has an aura or warning sign associated before the start of the seizure. With a generalized seizure, the person has no warning or aura before the seizure.


Dr. Nicholas D Suite

A seizure is an abnormal electrical discharge within the brain that may or may not be associated with alteration or loss of consciousness. There are several sub-types of seizure, including those which manifest as isolated movements of muscle groups, sudden sensory complaints, sudden momentary or prolonged loss of awareness/consciousness, and even violent motor activity (convulsions).

The basis for seizure activity may be either structural or metabolic, i.e., there can be a stroke, bleeding or tumor in the brain that causes it. Alternatively, there may be a reaction to medication/illicit drugs, or an abnormal condition in the blood, e.g., low blood sugar, low magnesium or other electrolyte derangement.

Immediate treatment for a seizure is medically necessary, and Fire Rescue should be called right away if it should occur outside of a hospital setting.

A seizure is a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes temporary, involuntary changes in body movement, function, sensation, awareness or behavior.

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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.