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Missouri Neurosciences Center

A seizure can be a symptom of epilepsy. However, a single seizure alone generally does not imply epilepsy. Some patients who experienced their first seizure may in fact have had seizure symptoms but thought they were something else. The seizure symptoms may vary and it depends on the part of brain affected.

What is a seizure?
The brain is the center that controls and regulates all voluntary and involuntary responses in the body. It consists of nerve cells that normally communicate with each other through electrical activity. A seizure occurs when part(s) of the brain receives a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal electrical brain function.
Different types of seizures

Generalized seizures
In generalized epilepsy, the symptoms may be a brief loss of awareness and motionless state. The extreme would be a loss of consciousness followed by violent convulsions of the limbs and body. Other symptoms may be subtle jerks on both limbs or a sudden drop of the head or body.

Partial seizures
Partial epileptic seizures may not remain confined to the portion of the brain causing the seizure. The seizure may spread to other areas and cause other symptoms. The most dramatic spread of the seizure is the grand mal seizure or the generalized tonic-clonic seizure. This is characterized by a loss of consciousness and widespread stiffening of the body/limbs followed by violent rhythmic contractions of the body and limbs.

What to watch for in seizures:

  • Staring
  • Jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Breathing problems or breathing stops
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Falling suddenly for no apparent reason, especially when associated with loss of consciousness
  • Not responding to noise or words for brief periods
  • Appearing confused or in a haze
  • Nodding the head rhythmically, when associated with loss of awareness or even loss of consciousness
  • Periods of rapid eye blinking and staring

The person may have varying degrees of symptoms depending upon the type of seizure.
To schedule an appointment with one of our epilepsy specialists, please call (573) 882-1515.


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