Conditions & Symptoms: Types of Seizures

Seizures result from electrical signals that misfire in the brain. This may cause abnormal limb jerking, staring spells or even hallucinations. Some people may be unaware of their symptoms, losing consciousness, after which they later awake. Others, can continue about their daily lives, working through these episodes. The types of seizures are wide and varied, and the symptoms people experience depend on the location of the misfiring signals.

Tonic-Clonic Seizures

Tonic-clonic seizures involve misfired electrical signals of the entire brain. People with this type of seizure immediately lose consciousness, followed by uncontrollable movements of their limbs and rest of the body. In the tonic portion of the seizure, the muscles of the entire body contract. Even the jaw clamps shut, sometimes causing people to bite their tongue. In the clonic portion of the seizure, all the muscles of the body relax. Eventually, people wake up from this episode, tired, confused and with no memory of this happening.

Absence Seizures

Absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures, result from misfired signals of the entire brain. With these seizures, people experience staring spells that can last for a few seconds. Like tonic-clonic seizures, they lose all consciousness, and have no memory of this ever occurring.

Complex Partial Seizures

Complex partial seizures involve misfired electrical signals in a portion of the brain. Thus, people with these types of seizures often have single, repetitive movements. This includes chewing, smacking their lips, pressing their finger on an object or other simple movements. In addition, people can continue complex activity such as walking or running, without memory of this episode.

Simple Partial Seizures

Simple partial seizures involve misfired electrical signals in a part of the brain. Unlike complex partial seizures, people with simple partial seizures retain awareness of their uncontrollable movements or episodes. For instance, a person with a jerking leg knows what is occurring and can continue about her regular activity. Also, people with simple partial seizures may experience hallucinations in which they smell, see or hear objects that others do not.

Atonic Seizures

People with atonic seizures lose all muscle tone and tend to fall to the ground. They lose consciousness for a few seconds to minutes, but later recover easily.

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