Epilepsy - Symptoms
Seizures that begin over the
entire surface of the brain are called
generalized seizures. The main types of generalized
- Generalized tonic-clonic seizures
(grand mal seizures), during which the person falls to the ground, the entire
body stiffens, and the person's muscles begin to jerk or spasm
- Absence seizures (petit mal seizures),
which make a person stare into space for a few seconds and then "wake up"
without knowing that anything has happened.
- Myoclonic seizures,
which make the body jerk like it is being shocked.
- Atonic seizures, in which a sudden loss of muscle tone makes the person fall
down without warning.
- Tonic seizures, in which the muscles
suddenly contract and stiffen, often causing the person to fall down.
People may refer to seizures as convulsions, fits, or
spells. But seizure is the correct term. Convulsions, during which the muscles
twitch or jerk, are just one characteristic of seizures. Some seizures cause
convulsions, but many do not.
Epileptic seizures are sometimes
psychogenic seizures, which are not due to abnormal
electrical function. A psychogenic seizure may be a psychological response to
stress, injury, emotional trauma, or other factors.
Types of epilepsy
There are many types of
epilepsy. All types cause seizures. It can be hard to determine what type
of epilepsy you have because of the numerous possible causes, because different
types of seizures can occur in the same person, and because the types may
affect each person differently.
Some specific types of epilepsy
- Benign focal childhood epilepsy, which causes muscles all over the body to stiffen and jerk.
These usually occur at night.
- Childhood and juvenile absence epilepsy, which causes staring into space, eye fluttering, and
slight muscle jerks.
- Infantile spasms (West syndrome), which
causes muscle spasms that affect a child's head, torso, and limbs. Infantile
spasms usually begin before the age of 6 months.
- Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, which causes jerking in the shoulders or
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which causes frequent and
several different types of seizures to occur. This syndrome
can lead to falls during a seizure, which can cause an
- Temporal lobe epilepsy (the most common type of
epilepsy in adults), which causes smacking of the lips or rubbing the hands
together, emotional or thought disturbances, and hallucinations of sounds,
smells, or tastes.