Epileptic seizures are usually brief events lasting seconds to a few minutes. They can take many forms, depending on the area of the brain involved. They can mimic virtually any behavior or experience that occurs normally, and many that do not. Focal seizures involve parts of the brain on just one side that are responsible for movement, sensation, psychic experiences and bodily functions. Examples include motor movements such as jerking of one hand or half the face; sensory experiences such as visual images of flashing lights, dizziness, smells or tastes; psychic experiences such as distorted memories, hallucinations and mood alterations (eg., depression, anger, fear); and body discomfort usually localized to the stomach, chest or head. When the epileptic activity spreads to the other side of the brain, conscious control is lost, which can cause involuntary, often inappropriate and bizarre behaviors that are not remembered after the seizure is over. Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain and range from brief loss of consciousness (absences, petit mal seizures) to the classical convulsions that begins with loss of consciousness and stiffening of both arms and legs, often accompanied by a cry and falling, followed by severe jerking on both sides of the body and then relaxation and unresponsiveness (generalized tonic-clonic convulsions, grand mal seizures). During these events, there may be loss of bladder and/or bowel control and tongue biting. Other generalized seizures may consist only of brief stiffening or brief jerks or sudden loss of tone with falling (drop attacks). Focal seizures can progress to generalized seizures. Focal seizures with sensory, psychic or bodily function experiences that progress to more severe behaviors are called auras, but they are actually epileptic seizures. Depending on the type of seizure and area of brain involved there can be focal disturbances or severe unresponsiveness after the seizure is over, lasting from a few minutes to many hours (the postictal state).
Epilepsy & Seizures Warning Signs & Symptoms
1 AnswerAmerican Red Cross answeredA person with epilepsy may experience something called an aura before the seizure occurs. An aura is an unusual sensation or feeling, such as a visual hallucination; strange sound, taste or smell; or an urgent need to get to safety.
If the person recognizes the aura, he or she may have time to tell bystanders and sit down before the seizure occurs.
1 AnswerDonna Hill Howes, RN, Family Medicine, answeredSome people with seizure disorder experience symptoms that may lead a doctor to suspect a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Caused by problems in the brain's electrical activity, seizure disorder is one of several medical conditions mirroring the symptoms of schizophrenia. Some of these symptoms include:
- smelling or tasting things that others can't smell or taste
- feelings of unease
- seeing things that are not real
- speech disorders or lacking an ability to speak
2 AnswersKathleen Handal, MD, Emergency Medicine, answered
3 AnswersJohns Hopkins Medicine answeredYour child may have varying degrees of symptoms depending upon the type of seizure. The following are general symptoms of a seizure or warning signs that your child may be experiencing seizures. Symptoms or warning signs may include:
•Jerking movements of the arms and legs
•Stiffening of the body
•Loss of consciousness
•Breathing problems or breathing stops
•Loss of bowel or bladder control
•Falling suddenly for no apparent reason
•Not responding to noise or words for brief periods
•Appearing confused or in a haze
•Nodding the head
•Periods of rapid eye blinking and staring
During the seizure, the child's lips may become bluish and breathing may not be normal. The movements are often followed by a period of sleep or disorientation.
Yes, there are several conditions mimicking epilepsy, such as syncope, cataplexy, myoclonus, TIA, periodic paralyses and pseudo seizures in adults. In addition breath holding spells and hemiplegic migraines can also be seen in children. Any of the above conditions need to be carefully evaluated by a specialist in order to exclude the possibility of underlying epilepsy.
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.