Seizures – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic


A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. it can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness. having two or more seizures at least 24 hours apart that are not caused by an identifiable cause is generally considered epilepsy.

There are many types of seizures, which vary in symptoms and severity. the types of seizures vary depending on where in the brain they start and how far they spread. most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes. a seizure that lasts more than five minutes is a medical emergency.

Seizures are more common than you think. Seizures can occur after a stroke, a closed head injury, an infection such as meningitis, or another illness. many times, however, the cause of a seizure is unknown.

Most seizure disorders can be controlled with medication, but managing your seizures can still have a significant impact on your daily life. The good news is that you can work with your doctor to balance seizure control and medication side effects.


With a seizure, signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary depending on the type of seizure. Signs and symptoms of seizures may include:

  • temporary confusion
  • a stare spell
  • uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • loss of consciousness or consciousness
  • cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as fear, anxiety, or deja vu
  • Doctors generally classify seizures as focal or generalized, depending on how and where the abnormal brain activity begins. seizures may also be classified as of unknown onset, if it is not known how the seizure began.

    focal seizures

    Focal seizures are the result of abnormal electrical activity in one area of ​​the brain. focal seizures can occur with or without loss of consciousness:

    • Focal seizures with altered consciousness. These seizures involve a change or loss of consciousness or awareness that feels like being in a dream. may appear awake, but stares into space and does not respond normally to surroundings or perform repetitive movements. these may include rubbing their hands together, moving their mouths, repeating certain words, or walking in circles. You may not remember the seizure or even know it happened.
    • Focal seizures without loss of consciousness. These seizures may alter emotions or change the way things look, smell, feel, taste, or sound, but they do not make you unconscious. you may suddenly feel angry, happy or sad. some people have nausea or unusual feelings that are hard to describe. These seizures can also result in slurred speech, involuntary jerking of a body part such as an arm or leg, and spontaneous sensory symptoms such as tingling, dizziness, and seeing flashing lights.
    • Focal seizure symptoms may be confused with other neurological disorders, such as migraine, narcolepsy, or mental illness.

      generalized seizures

      Seizures that seem to affect all areas of the brain are called generalized seizures. The different types of generalized seizures include:

      • absence seizures. Absence seizures, formerly known as petit mal seizures, often occur in children and are characterized by staring into space or subtle body movements, such as blinking or lip smacking. . they usually last five to 10 seconds, but can occur up to hundreds of times a day. these seizures can occur in groups and cause a brief loss of consciousness.
      • tonic seizures. Tonic seizures cause stiff muscles. These seizures usually affect the muscles in your back, arms, and legs and can cause you to lose consciousness and fall to the ground.
      • atonic seizures. Atonic seizures, also known as drop seizures, cause a loss of muscle control, which can cause you to suddenly collapse, fall, or drop your head.
      • clonic seizures. Clonic seizures are associated with repetitive or rhythmic jerking muscle movements. these seizures usually affect the neck, face, and arms on both sides of the body.
      • myoclonic seizures. Myoclonic seizures usually appear as sudden, brief jerks of the arms and legs. there is often no loss of consciousness.
      • tonic-clonic seizures. Tonic-clonic seizures, formerly known as grand mal seizures, are the most dramatic type of epileptic seizure and can cause abrupt loss of consciousness, body rigidity, and tremors , and sometimes loss of bladder control or tongue biting. they can last several minutes.
      • when to see a doctor

        Seek immediate medical help if any of the following occur:

        • the seizure lasts more than five minutes.
        • breathing or consciousness does not return after the seizure stops.
        • a second seizure follows immediately.
        • has a high fever.
        • is experiencing heat exhaustion.
        • you are pregnant.
        • has diabetes.
        • You were injured during the seizure.
        • If you are experiencing a seizure for the first time, see a doctor.


          Nerve cells (neurons) in the brain create, send, and receive electrical impulses that allow nerve cells in the brain to communicate. anything that interrupts these communication pathways can cause a seizure. some types of seizure disorders can be caused by genetic mutations.

          The most common cause of seizures is epilepsy. But not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy. Seizures can sometimes be caused or triggered by:

          • high fever, which may be associated with an infection such as meningitis
          • lack of sleep
          • flashing lights, moving patterns, or other visual stimuli
          • low sodium level in the blood (hyponatremia), which can occur with diuretic therapy
          • medications, such as certain pain relievers, antidepressants, or smoking cessation therapies, that lower the seizure threshold
          • head trauma causing an area of ​​bleeding in the brain
          • abnormalities of blood vessels in the brain
          • autoimmune disorders, including systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis
          • hit
          • brain tumor
          • use of illegal or recreational drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine
          • alcohol abuse, during times of withdrawal or extreme intoxication
          • covid-19 virus infection
          • complications

            Having a seizure can sometimes lead to circumstances that are dangerous to you or others. could be at risk of:

            • falling. If you fall during a seizure, you can injure your head or break a bone.
            • drowning. If you have a seizure while swimming or bathing, you are at risk of accidental drowning.
            • Motor vehicle accidents. A seizure that causes loss of consciousness or control can be dangerous if you are driving a car or operating other equipment.
            • pregnancy complications. Seizures during pregnancy pose a danger to both mother and baby, and certain antiepileptic drugs increase the risk of birth defects. If you have epilepsy and plan to become pregnant, work with your doctor so she can adjust your medications and monitor your pregnancy as needed.
            • Emotional health problems. People with seizures are more likely to have psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety. problems can be the result of difficulties coping with the condition itself, as well as side effects of medications.
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