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Epilepsy: Tonic Seizures - Topic Overview

Tonic seizures are fairly uncommon. They occur mostly in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This is a severe form of generalized epilepsy that begins in early childhood. (Children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome may also have atonic seizures.)

When a tonic seizure occurs, the muscles in the body contract and the entire body stiffens. This occurs suddenly and without warning. And it often causes the person to fall down.

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Understanding Epilepsy -- Prevention

In someone with epilepsy, certain triggers can lead to a seizure. Identify and watch for particular behaviors, environments, or physical and emotional signs that precede attacks. It's not uncommon, for example, to feel annoyed or elated several hours prior to a grand mal seizure, and immediately before the attack. In addition, the person may become aware of a warning "aura" -- perhaps a taste or smell: This warning may allow you to lie down in time to avoid falling. In cases where the aura is a...

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People who have tonic or atonic seizures are likely to be injured when they fall. Children may have to wear helmets and restrict their activities to prevent serious injury.

    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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