Epilepsy: Type of Seizures and Their Symptoms
Epilepsy and an overview of the types of seizures
Based on the type of behavior and brain activity, seizures are divided into two broad categories: generalized and partial (also called local or focal). Classifying the type of seizure helps physicians diagnose whether or not a patient has epilepsy.
Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from throughout the entire brain, whereas partial seizures are produced (at least initially) by electrical impulses in a relatively small part of the brain. The part of the brain generating the seizures is sometimes called the focus. The most common types of seizures are listed below:
(Produced by the entire brain)
|1. "Grand Mal" or Generalized tonic-clonic||Unconsciousness, convulsions, muscle rigidity|
|2. Absence||Brief loss of consciousness|
|3. Myoclonic||Sporadic (isolated), jerking movements|
|4. Clonic||Repetitive, jerking movements|
|5. Tonic||Muscle stiffness, rigidity|
|6. Atonic||Loss of muscle tone|
There are six types of generalized seizures. The most common and dramatic, and therefore the most well known, is the generalized convulsion, also called the grand-mal seizure. In this type of seizure, the patient loses consciousness and usually collapses. The loss of consciousness is followed by generalized body stiffening (called the "tonic" phase of the seizure) for 30 to 60 seconds, then by violent jerking (the "clonic" phase) for 30 to 60 seconds, after which the patient goes into a deep sleep (the "postictal" or after-seizure phase). During grand-mal seizures, injuries and accidents may occur, such as tongue biting and urinary incontinence.
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