Epilepsy seizures differ in their severity and can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some seizures can be mild and last only a minute or two. Other seizures cause intense symptoms that last much longer. Acute, repetitive seizures can result in damage to the heart or brain, and possibly death if emergency treatment is not given right away.
There are many different ways of classifying seizures. Examples include:
These seizures begin from just one part of the brain. Symptoms include:
The term Jacksonian march implies that the symptoms spread from one part of the body to another. Focal onset seizures can become generalized. This means that they spread to both sides of the brain.
These seizures begin from both sides of the brain. Symptoms include:
One type of generalized seizure without convulsions is known as absence, also called petit mal, seizures. This type is more common in children. Symptoms include:
There are also other types of generalized seizures without convulsive activity.
Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 18, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.
Epilepsy in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 19, 2012. Accessed February 22, 2013.
NINDS epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/epilepsy.htm. Updated February 21, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.
What happens during a seizure? Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/what-happens-during-seizure. Accessed February 22, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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