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Epilepsy - Symptoms

Seizures are the only visible symptom of epilepsy. There are different kinds of seizures, and symptoms of each type can affect people differently. Seizures typically last from a few seconds to a few minutes. You may be alert during the seizure or lose consciousness. You may not remember what happened during the seizure or may not even realize you had a seizure.

Seizures that make you fall to the ground or make the muscles stiffen or jerk out of control are easy to recognize. But many seizures do not involve these reactions and may be harder to notice. Some seizures make you stare into space for a few seconds. Others may consist only of a few muscle twitches, a turn of the head, or a strange smell or visual disturbance that only you sense.

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What to Do if Your Child Has an Epileptic Seizure

Most epileptic seizures are over so quickly that you don't really have much time to do anything. After it's over, you simply make sure that the child wasn't injured. Tonic-clonic seizures are the most dramatic and frightening of the seizures, and they usually last longer than other seizures. Here are some suggestions for handling them: Move things out of the way so the child won't injure him or herself. Loosen any tight clothing around the neck. Put a pillow or something soft under the...

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Epileptic seizures often happen without warning, although some people may have an aura at the start of a seizure. A seizure ends when the abnormal electrical activity in the brain stops and brain activity begins to return to normal. Seizures may be either partial or generalized.

Partial seizures

Partial seizures begin in a specific area or location of the brain. The most common types of partial seizures are:

  • Simple partial seizures.Simple partial seizures do not affect consciousness or awareness.
  • Complex partial seizures.Complex partial seizures do affect level of consciousness. You may become unresponsive or may lose consciousness completely.
  • Partial seizures with secondary generalization. Partial seizures with secondary generalization begin as simple or complex partial seizures but then spread (generalize) to the rest of the brain and look like generalized tonic-clonic seizures. These two types can easily be confused, but they are treated differently. Most tonic-clonic seizures in adults begin as partial seizures and are caused by partial epilepsy. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures are more common in children.
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