Skip to content

Epilepsy Health Center

Font Size

Epilepsy: Complex Partial Seizures - Topic Overview

Complex partial seizures occur in children and adults with certain forms of epilepsy. They are the most common type of seizure in adults.

  • An aura may occur at the beginning of a seizure. It may consist of a strange smell, taste, sound, or visual disturbance, an unexplained feeling of fear or anxiety, or a sense that everything seems strangely familiar, like it has all happened before (déjà vu), or strangely unfamiliar (jamais vu).
  • The seizure changes the person's level of consciousness. The person may appear awake but cannot respond to anything or anyone around him or her. The person usually stares into space.
  • The seizure may include involuntary movements called automatisms, such as lip-smacking, chewing, hand wringing, picking, and swallowing.
  • The seizure lasts 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Most people who have complex partial seizures do not remember having them. After a seizure, the person will be confused or disoriented and may have a hard time speaking and swallowing for several minutes.

Recommended Related to Epilepsy

Working With Your Doctor for the Best Epilepsy Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, you will have many questions. One of the first will probably be, "How can my epilepsy be treated?" There is no single answer to this question. That is because doctors have identified hundreds of different epilepsy syndromes, which involve many different types of seizures. Your epilepsy may be inherited, or it may not. One study has found that some people with epilepsy have inherited an abnormally active version of a gene that makes them resistant to drugs...

Read the Working With Your Doctor for the Best Epilepsy Treatment article > >

Complex partial seizures are often confused with absence seizures, a type of generalized seizure. Absence seizures, though, never begin with an aura and last only 5 to 15 seconds. Also, a person is fully alert after an absence seizure and may continue with whatever he or she was doing before the seizure as though nothing has happened.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Epilepsy: Complex Partial Seizures Topics

    Today on WebMD

    human head and brain waves
    Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
    Grand mal seizure
    How is each one different?
     
    marijuana plant
    CBD, a plant chemical, may cut down seizures.
    prescription bottle
    Which medication is right for you?
     
    Seizures Driving
    Article
    Questions for Doctor Epilepsy
    Article
     
    Graces Magic Diet
    Article
    Pills spilling from bottle in front of clock
    Article
     
    first aid kit
    Article
    Caring Child Epilepsy
    Article
     
    Making Home Safe
    Article
    epilepsy monitoring
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections