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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Types of Seizures and Their Symptoms

A seizure is a condition where the brain neurons start to uncontrollably transmit signals. This causes an electrical disturbance which results in abnormalities in a person’s behavior, physical movement, psychological problems, and levels of consciousness.

Depending on which part the seizure or abnormal electrical disturbance starts in the brain, seizures can be divided into three parts:

1)  Focal Onset Seizures (Partial Seizure)

In this type of seizure, electrical neuron disturbances only occur in one part of the brain, where it begins and thus the name”focal” or “focus”.

This type can be further classified based on how aware one is of their surroundings during an episode.

●    Simple Seizure

During this, the person is conscious, focused, and aware of his surroundings and can often recall every single detail of the episode which leaves them a feeling of strangeness and frustration afterward.

●    Complex Seizure

During this, the person is unaware or unconscious as this type of seizure affects the larger hemisphere of the brain. They are unable to hear, respond, or comprehend with their surroundings or themselves during an episode. It is also commonly followed by a lot of confusion, abnormal or aggressive behavior.

Other symptoms of focal seizure:

  1. Repeated jerky movements

  2. Strange posture or facial reaction

  3. Losing muscle tone and flexibility

  4. Repeated chewing movement

  5. Visual disturbances

  6. Twitching, numbness or tingling sensation

Person standing

Losing balance during a Seizure, Credit: UIhere

2)  Generalized Onset Seizures

This type of seizure occurs on both sides of the brain simultaneously with no symptomatic warning signs. Besides myoclonic seizures, in all generalized seizures, the person is usually unconscious and cannot recall the events of the episode.

●    Clonic Seizure

It causes repeated jerk-movements, almost in a rhythm. It usually occurs on one side of the body but can occur in the entire body as well.

Muscle spasms of the face, neck, arms may last for several minutes.

●    Tonic Seizures

The muscles of a person during a tonic seizure suddenly becomes stiff. It is to such a great extent that if a person is standing, they can suddenly collapse and fall backwards due to loss of muscle strength. People usually suffer a head injury due to such accidents.

●    Atonic Seizures

It is also known as the drop attack seizure as the person’s muscles become floppy due to sudden relaxation of the muscles. Similar to tonic seizures, the person will lose balance and support while standing and have a massive fall which could potentially cause severe injuries.

●    Myoclonic Seizures

These seizures are brief episodes that occur one after another. They take place in clusters within a small interval of time. The muscles of the person will experience a strong, sudden jerk. It’s almost as if someone has shocked them with a defibrillator or an electrical muscle stimulation machine.


Twitching and jerky toes during seizures, Credit: Pxhere

●    Absence Seizure

As the name suggests, the person will become absent-minded or unresponsive during this seizure.

The person is found to be daydreaming or blankly staring at objects without blinking. They usually continue the movement they were performing before the seizure.

For example, if a person is walking they will continue to absent mindlessly walk with no direction or awareness.

Such episodes are quite short which make it difficult to identify.

3)  Unknown Onset Seizures

In these types of seizures, the location of the brain where the seizure starts is unknown. Moreover, these types of seizures are general not witnessed while it’s happening or the person may not even know he has an episode. It also commonly occurs while the person is sleeping.


Seizure in Infants, Credit: Pexels

Neonatal Seizure in Infants

The neonatal period is the first 28 days of the baby’s life which is very vulnerable to complications and the child is at a high risk of dying.

Neonatal seizures commonly occur in the first 1 to 7 days of the baby’s life. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  1. Slowly breathing pattern

  2. Excessive sucking and chewing

  3. Unusual pedaling movements

  4. Excessively blinking or rolling eyes

  5. Uncomfortable or struggling movement

Impact: They can cause damage to the baby’s brain and cause serious and permanent malfunctions in the baby’s system.

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