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What do generalized tonic-clonic seizures look like?

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The type of seizure most people will think of is the generalized tonic-clonic seizure, better known as a grand mal seizure. They're frightening to watch, and you rarely know or remember what's happening.

These seizures follow a pattern:

1. You seem to "check out." You won't answer if people talk to you. You won't react if someone waves a hand in your face or shakes you. You may collapse.

2. Your muscles clench and become as stiff as a board. (This is the tonic phase. It lasts a few seconds.)

3. Next comes a series of jerking movements. (This is the clonic phase. It can last a few seconds or several minutes.)

4. Eventually, the jerking stops and you're alert and can talk again, but you may be dazed or unsteady for a little while.

From: First Aid for Epilepsy Seizures WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Epilepsy Foundation: "Living With Epilepsy," "Focal Onset Aware Seizures (simple partial seizures)," "First Aid," "Is an Emergency Room Visit Needed?"

Epilepsy Action: "First aid," "Focal seizures."

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research."

Reviewed by Richard Senelick on July 31, 2017

SOURCES:

Epilepsy Foundation: "Living With Epilepsy," "Focal Onset Aware Seizures (simple partial seizures)," "First Aid," "Is an Emergency Room Visit Needed?"

Epilepsy Action: "First aid," "Focal seizures."

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research."

Reviewed by Richard Senelick on July 31, 2017

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Why are generalized tonic-clonic seizures dangerous?

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