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What is generalized epilepsy and what kind of seizures does it include?

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If you have this type of epilepsy, seizures start on both sides of the brain (or quickly affect networks of brain cells on both sides). This type of epilepsy has two basic kinds of seizures:

During this type of seizure, you may stop what you're doing and stare into space. You may also do the same movements over and over, like smacking your lips. These types of seizures are generally called absence seizures because it's like the person isn't really there.

  • Generalized motor seizures. These used to be called grand mal seizures. They cause your body to move in ways you can't control, sometimes dramatically. Tonic-clonic seizures are one example. When it hits, you lose consciousness and your muscles stiffen and jerk. Other types you may hear your doctor talk about include clonic, tonic, and myoclonic.
  • Generalized non-motor (or absence) seizures. They used to be called petit mal seizures. Some specific types you may hear your doctor mention are typical, atypical, and myoclonic.

SOURCES:

Epilepsy Society: "What Is Epilepsy?"

UpToDate: "ILAE Classification of Seizures and Epilepsy."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Types of Epilepsy," "Seizures."

Epilepsy Foundation: "What Is a Seizure?" "2017 Revised Classification of Seizures," "Diagnosing Epilepsy," "Diagnosis 101: The Basics," "Types of Seizures," "Choosing a First Drug," "Surgery."

Massachusetts General Hospital: "Childhood Epilepsy: The Brain."

Epilepsia : "Operational classification of seizure types by the International League Against Epilepsy: Position Paper of the ILAE Commission for Classification and Terminology."

Reviewed by Christopher Melinosky on July 24, 2019

SOURCES:

Epilepsy Society: "What Is Epilepsy?"

UpToDate: "ILAE Classification of Seizures and Epilepsy."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Types of Epilepsy," "Seizures."

Epilepsy Foundation: "What Is a Seizure?" "2017 Revised Classification of Seizures," "Diagnosing Epilepsy," "Diagnosis 101: The Basics," "Types of Seizures," "Choosing a First Drug," "Surgery."

Massachusetts General Hospital: "Childhood Epilepsy: The Brain."

Epilepsia : "Operational classification of seizure types by the International League Against Epilepsy: Position Paper of the ILAE Commission for Classification and Terminology."

Reviewed by Christopher Melinosky on July 24, 2019

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What is focal epilepsy?

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