Types and Symptoms of Epilepsy | Neurology


What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person has recurring seizures over time. Seizures are episodes of uncontrolled and abnormal activation of brain cells that cause changes in attention or behavior.

In epilepsy, the electrical rhythms of the brain tend to become unbalanced, causing recurrent seizures. In patients with epilepsy, the normal electrical pattern is suddenly and synchronously damaged by electrical energy, briefly affecting their consciousness, movements, or sensations.

Alternate name

  • Seizure disorder

Types of epilepsy

Epilepsy is classified into two types, which include:

Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain.

  • Absence seizures, sometimes called petit mal epilepsy, blinks rapidly or gazes into space for a few seconds.
  • Tonic-clonic seizures also named grand mal seizures, can make a person
      • Cry out
      • Lose consciousness
      • Fall to the ground
      • Have muscle jerks or spasms

Focal seizures: Seizures caused by electrical impulses arising from a relatively small or “localized” part of the brain (known as a focus). There are two types of focal seizures:

  • Focal seizures with retained consciousness, this type of focal seizure were previously known as a simple partial seizure.
  • Focal seizures with a loss of consciousness, this type of focal seizure may also be called a focal dyscognitive seizure (previously identified as complex partial seizures)

Causes of epilepsy

Causes of epilepsy include:

  • Genetics
  • Brain structure abnormalities
  • Metabolism changes
  • Immune system abnormalities
  • Trauma
  • Stroke
  • Tumors
  • Infectious disease
  • Unknown causes

Symptoms of epilepsy

Symptoms of epilepsy vary. They depend on how much the brain is affected and where the affected area is.

Generalized seizures: If you have this type of seizure, the seizures start on either side of the brain (or quickly affect the networks of brain cells on both sides).

  • Generalized motor seizures (Grand Mal): The patient loses consciousness and often collapses. Loss of consciousness is followed by violent shaking (known as the “tonic” phase of seizure) instead of normal physical activity (known as the “tonic” phase of seizure), followed by a deep sleep of the patient (called the “postical “or” after a seizure ” phase). During grand-mal epilepsy, injuries, and accidents such as tongue biting and urinary incontinence can occur.
  • Generalized non-motor (or absence) seizures: They are called “petit mal” seizures. The loss of consciousness is so brief that the person usually does not change position. For a few seconds, the person can:
    • Have a blank stare
    • Blink rapidly
    • Make chewing movements
    • Move an arm or leg rhythmically.

Partial (focal) seizures:

Simple partial seizures do not imply loss of consciousness. Symptoms include:

  • Changes to a sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing, or touch
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling and twitching of limbs

Complicated partial seizures include loss of awareness or consciousness. Other symptoms include:

  • Staring blankly
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Performing repetitive movements

Diagnosis of epilepsy

The diagnosis of epilepsy depends on your history of epilepsy. Your doctor will ask if you have any symptoms that you can remember, such as feeling weird or experiencing any warning signs before the seizure occurs. It can be helpful to talk to those who have seen your seizure and ask them for certain what they saw, especially if you do not remember the seizure.

Your doctor may also perform tests that include blood tests, an EEG (electroencephalogram), and brain scans, such as a CT scan or MRI.

A person can have epilepsy even with normal results on EEG and brain scans; however, abnormal results can help classify the type of epilepsy.

If your child or someone you know has epilepsy, it may help to videotape it on your mobile phone. This will support your doctor to make a more specific diagnosis.

Treatment for epilepsy

There is currently no remedy for most types of epilepsy.


The most common treatment used to reduce or prevent seizures is anti-seizure drugs. Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to treat the specific type of seizure you have. Your doctor will need to adjust the dose and/or type of medicine to find the best treatment for you. 70% of epilepsy patients lose their medication without restrictions if they take it regularly. Some patients may need medications for life; Patients should not stop taking the medicine without first consulting their doctor.


Surgery is usually done if you know that your seizures start in a well-defined area of your brain that does not interfere with important functions like speech, language, or hearing. Medicine in other cases of drug-resistant epilepsy, your doctor may recommend a type of treatment called vagus nerve stimulation. To do this, you must place a small device under the skin of your chest. The device produces electrical pulses to the vagus nerve in the neck. 

It is difficult to control one type of treatment for children with certain types of seizures, which include a strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. This diet is called the ketogenic diet. This diet must be prescribed and supervised by a doctor. Among all treatments, work with your doctor to decide the best treatment for you.


Researchers have found that a ketogenic diet can decrease or eliminate seizures in some children and adults. The diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that helps to create ketones, which attack the brain and cause fewer or fewer seizures. Typical foods on this diet include eggs, bacon, avocados, cheese, nuts, fish, and a few fruits and vegetables.

The diet is strict and often begins in a hospital. It has been shown to be successful with some children who do not respond well to medication. However, it can be used in combination with a C-section in some people.


While seizures are connected to another medical condition, knowing and treating that medical condition is critical to prevention. If anti-seizure medications are prescribed, it is important to take the medication at the suggested times and avoid the medications.

  • Some people with epilepsy are very sensitive to alcohol. If this pattern develops, stay away from alcohol. Others may have seizures only after they have stopped consuming too much alcohol. The key to prevention is avoiding alcohol.
  • Insomnia and stress in some people with epilepsy definitely increase the frequency of epilepsy.


Having epilepsy puts you at risk for injury. During a seizure, you may fall, hurt yourself, or inhale food or saliva. You should avoid using heavy machinery, working at height, or underwater. You can even stop driving if your seizures are not controlled. Care must be taken around the water when swimming or bathing.

Children with epilepsy have trouble learning or concentrating.

Epilepsy affects your life and you need to pay more attention to your health. Some people experience a lot of anxiety or depression when they are first diagnosed.

When to contact the doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes
  • He was injured during the seizure
  • The process you usually feel during and after detention
  • It takes longer than usual to recover after a seizure
  • Your seizures become more severe or occur more often
  • The second confiscation takes place immediately after the first
  • You are pregnant
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • You may have sudden headaches, numbness, or weakness on one side of your body, or problems with vision or speech before you have a seizure. These could be signs of a stroke.

Departments to consult for this condition

  • Department of Neurology

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