Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures. A seizure is a sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain. There are two main types of seizures. Generalized seizures affect the whole brain. Focal, or partial seizures, affect just one part of the brain. A mild seizure may be difficult to recognize. It can last a few seconds during which you lack awareness. Stronger seizures can cause spasms and uncontrolable muscle twitches, and can last a few seconds to several minutes. During a stronger seizure, some people become confused or lose consciousness. Afterward you may have no memory of it happening.
Absence seizures, which used to be called “petit mal seizures,” cause a blank stare. This type of seizure may also cause repetitive movements like lip smacking or blinking. There’s also usually a short loss of awareness.
Tonic seizures cause muscle stiffness.
Atonic seizures lead to loss of muscle control and can make you fall down suddenly.
Clonic seizures are characterized by repeated, jerky muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms.
Myoclonic seizures cause spontaneous quick twitching of the arms and legs.
Tonic-clonic seizures used to be called “grand mal seizures.” Symptoms include:
Some people are able to identify things or situations that can trigger seizures.
A few of the most commonly reported triggers are:
Identifying triggers isn’t always easy. A single incident doesn’t always mean something is a trigger. It’s often a combination of factors that trigger a seizure.
A good way to find your triggers is to keep a seizure journal. After each seizure, note the following: