What is a Seizure?

A seizure is a short-change in normal brain activity and the main sign of epilepsy. 

Seizures can look like staring spells; defined as absent seizures. Or they can be identified as tonic-clonic seizures which cause a person to fall, shake, become convulsive, and lose awareness of their surroundings.  

People with epilepsy can have more than one type of seizure. 

Seizures are classified into two groups.

  1. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain.
    • Absence seizures, also called petit mal seizures, can cause rapid blinking or a few seconds of staring into space.
    • Tonic-clonic seizures, also called grand mal seizures, can cause a person to lose consciousness, fall to the ground, and have muscle jerks or spasms.
  2. Focal seizures affect just one area of the brain. These seizures are also called partial seizures.
    • Simple focal seizures can cause twitching or a change in sensation such as taste or smell
    • Complex focal seizures can cause a person to become confused or dazed and the person may be unable to respond to questions for a few minutes.
    • Secondary generalized seizures begin in one part of the brain, but then spread to both sides of the brain.