What are the Symptoms of Epilepsy?

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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2018
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The primary symptoms of epilepsy are seizures. Seizures are caused by a temporary change in the amount of electrical signals in the brain. There are different seizure types, and one epileptic’s seizure experience can vary significantly from someone else’s. A person must experience at least two seizures before a diagnosis of epilepsy is considered.

A seizure can cause a variety of symptoms of epilepsy, depending on the severity. Epileptics can experience temporary confusion, uncontrolled jerking of the legs and arms, or unconsciousness. Seizure symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. Seizures typically begin with an aura or warning, followed by the seizure itself, and end with a transition back to normal brain activity.

A patient’s symptoms of epilepsy tend to be consistent from seizure to seizure. Medical professionals typically classify seizures as partial or generalized. A partial seizure results from a change in activity in one part of the brain, and a generalized seizure involves the entire brain.

Partial seizures are divided into two categories: simple and complex. A simple partial seizure doesn’t cause unconsciousness but can change the person’s mood and alter the senses so that things look, smell, or taste strange. Flashing lights and uncontrolled body jerking are additional symptoms of this type of seizure.


A complex partial seizure may cause an altered consciousness. The epileptic can lose track of time and may appear to be staring. Chewing, walking in circles, and twitching are other symptoms of complex partial seizures.

There are four kinds of generalized seizures. Petit mal seizures cause staring and slight body movements. Myoclonic seizures will cause the arms and legs to jerk suddenly. An atonic seizure or drop attack causes a loss of muscle tone and sudden collapse.

The most serious of the symptoms of epilepsy is the grand mal seizure. This type of generalized seizure causes unconsciousness and a loss of bladder control. In addition, the body will shake and stiffen. The grand mal seizure is what is commonly portrayed in film and television.

All types of seizures can require treatment. Even a mild seizure could present a danger to an epileptic during activities like bathing and driving. Treatments include medications and surgery. It is possible for children to outgrow epilepsy with time.

Anyone who experiences any symptoms of epilepsy for the first time should contact a medical professional. Epileptics who have diabetes or are pregnant ought to seek medical assistance if they experience a seizure. A doctor should be notified if an epileptic experiences a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes or one that results in unconsciousness.



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