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Epilepsy: Myoclonic Seizures - Topic Overview

Myoclonic seizures affect a small number of children and adults with generalized epilepsy of unknown cause (idiopathic). In children and teens with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, the seizures seem to occur most often after waking up or while falling asleep.

During a myoclonic seizure:

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If someone has a seizure for the first time, if a seizure lasts longer than two to three minutes, or if multiple seizures occur one after the other, take him or her to the emergency room or call 911 immediately. If a seizure disorder is suspected, the doctor will begin by taking a thorough medical history, including any birth trauma, serious head injury, or infections of the brain, such as encephalitis or meningitis. Brain function can be "viewed" with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, which detects...

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  • The arms, legs, torso, or facial muscles jerk rapidly as though they are being shocked.
  • The body may jerk once or many times, on one or both sides of the body, in a rhythmic or random pattern.
  • The person usually does not lose consciousness.

Myoclonic seizures are almost always very brief.

    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.
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