What are different types of seizures?

What are different types of seizures?

Last Reviewed : 12/18/2020
What are different types of seizures?

Do you know that about 65 million people have seizures around the world? Of the 65 million people suffering from this condition, 3.4 million of them are in the United States. We will take you through what seizure really is, the various types and other important facts you need to know. That said, we will set the ball rolling.

What is Seizure?

Essentially, seizure is a sudden burst of abnormal electrical signals in the brain which impedes the conduction of normal impulses required for its functioning. Whenever seizure occurs, it can last for a few seconds to a few minutes. They may have varied presentations like a simple unresponsive state, a stiff posture or a full-blown convulsion. There are many types of seizures which are differentiated based on the part of brain or the extent of brain involved in the abnormal electrical activity.

Types of Seizure

Also known as epilepsy, seizure can be broadly divided into focal and generalized seizures, which further include several subtypes.

a. Focal Seizures: These are also known as partial seizures. Focal seizures are localized to one area of the brain. However, they are further divided into simple and complex partial seizures depending on effect on consciousness. Going farther, symptoms of focal seizures depend on the part of brain involved.

  • Simple Partial Seizures: This seizure activity occurs only in one part of the brain. Also, it may manifest as a change in taste or smell sensation, disturbed visual sensations or motor twitches in arms or legs.
  • Complex Partial Seizures: Well, the second type of focal seizure is the complex partial seizure. It occurs in that part of the brain that is concerned with memory and emotions. In addition to that, it presents with complex reactions like gagging, lip smacking, crying or laughing.

Focal seizures will be incomplete without a mention of Benign Rolandic epilepsy, which is a type of partial seizure in children with characteristic EEG patterns.

b. Generalized Seizures: Basically, generalized seizures happen when abnormal electrical signals simultaneously effect both sides of the brain. Indeed, these are usually associated with loss of consciousness except in myoclonic seizure. Generalized seizures are further classified as different types.

  • Tonic Clonic Seizures: Loss of consciousness is followed by generalized stiffening of the body, known as tonic phase of seizure, and jerking of the body, known as clonic phase of seizure. It may be followed by a phase of confusion or weakness known as the post-ictal phase. It is often associated with injuries due to falls, tongue biting or urinary incontinence. Previously, they were known as Grand mal epilepsy.
  • Absence Seizures: Aside from tonic clonic seizures, absence seizure also falls into the category of generalized seizures. These kinds of seizures are often unnoticed and misinterpreted in children due to their subtle nature. Fundamentally, they are associated with a period of unresponsiveness, eye blinking, lip smacking or often staring into space. Considering its duration, these seizures last only for a few seconds. It often looks like the child may be day dreaming. These seizures are also known as Petit mal seizures.
  • Clonic Seizures: Also, clonic seizures involve rhythmic jerking movement of parts of the body. Seizure may start from one part and progresses to the whole body, and hence it is included under the category of generalized seizures.
  • Tonic Seizures: These are associated with stiffening of muscles of the body. Sure, tonic seizures often occur suddenly and involve postural muscles leading to arching of back, loss of posture and falls.
  • Atonic Seizures: According to medical pundits, there are many generalized seizures. And atonic seizure is one of them. These are the opposite of tonic seizures where the muscles become flaccid and cause falls and injury to the person. They are sudden and harmless except for the injuries.
  • Myoclonic Seizures: If you are not aware, myoclonic seizures still hold sway. The seizures associated with muscle jerks are called myoclonic seizures. Muscle jerks are often described by patients as electrical shocks. They often occur as clusters, occurring in huge frequencies within small periods of time. A severe form of myoclonic epilepsy occurring in infancy is called as Dravet syndrome.

c. Additional Seizures: Going ahead with the broad category of seizures, additional seizures are worthy of mention. These are kinds of seizures that cannot be broadly categorized into focal or generalized types. Additional seizures are further split into small units.

  • Continuous Seizure or Status Epilepticus: The rare instances in which seizure activity continues beyond several minutes and appears to not stop are called continuous seizures. Any type of seizure may present as status epilepticus. It occurs more commonly in adults and is often associated with stroke or other inflammatory processes of the brain.
  • Febrile Seizures: Also, when fever suddenly increases or become too high, it imposes a risk of developing seizure. These kinds of seizures are more common in children between 6 months and 5 years of age.
  • Catamenial Seizures: Aside from febrile and continuous seizures, there are catamenial seizures. Basically, women who are more sensitive to hormonal changes might sometimes develop seizures during menstruation.
  • Infantile Spasms: Finally, there are infantile spams. Well, this is a type of seizures found in infants associated with brain damage. These infants develop sudden lightening, head nodding or flexor spasms.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up this piece, we believe that we have taken our time to break down all there is to know about the various types of seizures. However, there are key facts you need to know about seizures regarding how seizure affects you. Some of these things include:

  • Also, you may not be able to work and drive when you have it
  • When you have seizures, chances are that you may harm yourself during the heat of the moment
  • Seizure is not contagious
  • And if the next person has seizure, don’t force something into their mouths.

There you have, you need to understand all these facts about seizures to better educate others.

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