4 Ways to Tell Whether You’re Having Tonic Seizures

1. Symptoms Are Tied Into Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

Generally diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 6 years old, children who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome suffer from a severe form of epilepsy. Lennox-Gastaut patients usually experience several seizure types, including myoclonic, atonic and tonic. If you or your child has the disorder, it is very likely that voluntary increases in muscle tone are caused by complicating tonic seizures inherent in the condition. Recovery from Lennox-Gastaut is very rare, so seizure sufferers must learn to manage their symptoms with antiepileptic drugs or other therapies.

2. Muscles Stiffen Rapidly and Unexpectedly

Often beginning in the head and neck, tonic episodes cause severe muscle contractions that can stiffen the entire body. You may raise your arms in the air from uncontrolled contractions in the shoulders and back, contort your face and forehead, or even exert a high-pitched cry due to spasms in the abdominal and respiratory muscles.

3. Falls Are Regular and Involuntary

When your lower limbs are involved in the tonic stiffening, you may feel an instant contraction in your legs and feet, causing you to fall due to a total loss of balance. In severe cases, hypertonic muscle contractions may continue while you’re lying on the ground, forcing your body into an awkward, rigid position.

4. Postictal Impairment Is Common

Consciousness may or may not be impaired during tonic seizures, depending on the length of the episode. Even if you don’t have a short period of consciousness loss, it is probable that you’ll go through a fatiguing postictal stage. During the postictal period, you may feel confused, dazed and exhausted. It is common to need a nap after a tonic seizure takes place. In addition, you may develop a headache after your episode due to the physical and emotional trauma of the experience. The length of the postictal stage depends on the duration and severity of the seizure.