Four Types of Epilepsy and Their Symptoms

The brain is undoubtedly the most active part of the body, being responsible for all of our motor and cognitive abilities. This is made possible through the billions of neurons that send signals across the brain.

What happens when there is an irregularity or a change in this flow of neutrons? A seizure happens. When these seizures recur, then it is categorized as epilepsy, a condition where a person has already experienced two or more seizures.

It is a simple concept, but there are classifications when it comes to what type of epilepsy a person can have. Considering that seizures occur due to uncontrolled brain activity, symptoms may vary from person to person. These symptoms can range from muscle spasms, staring spells, a hyper state of awareness, and twitching.

In order to treat patients with epilepsy better, epilepsy new treatment are encouraged so that it can be more accurately diagnosed and treated. Doctors can be able to administer medication better when the proper procedures are put in place, as the cause of the seizures can be traced.

Seizures are not something that can be easily mediated, and medication is vital in stopping recurring seizures. So, if you may happen to know someone who is having seizures or you are experiencing some yourselves, you should be knowledgeable about the four types of epilepsy and their symptoms.

Four Types of Epilepsy and Their Symptoms

Focal epilepsy

Focal seizures are located in just one area of the brain but may start to move into other parts as well. These seizures are also called partial seizures. The symptoms include:

  • Twitching.
  •  A change in the senses, such as an inability to taste or experiencing weird smells.
  • Confusion and a state of disillusionment.
  • Inability to respond to conversation and follow directions.
  • May be followed by another seizure.

These seizures can often be identified through the presence of an aura, which occurs before the seizure actually happens. It may be an ominous feeling in the stomach or nausea, which can communicate to the patient that they may await a seizure. Symptoms of this include:

  • Muscle twitching.
  • Jerking.
  • Spasms.
  • Repeated movements.

There may also be non-motor symptoms such as:

  • A change in body temperature.
  • Goosebumps.
  • Lack of movement.
  • Changes in emotions or thoughts.

Generalized epilepsy

This epilepsy encompasses both parts of the brain, which makes it much harder to identify as it may have both non-motor and motor symptoms. It is most common in children and juveniles.

The motor symptoms include:

  • Fatigued limbs.
  • Prolonged jerking movements.
  • Rigid and aching muscles.
  • Muscle twitching
  • Epileptic spams.

Non-motor symptoms, sometimes called absence seizures, include:

  • Fluttering eyelids.
  • A halt in movement.
  • Staring at a random object.

Unknown epilepsy

Unknown epilepsy, as the name suggests, is a type of epilepsy where doctors can not identify where the seizures originate. People who experience this type of epilepsy might have both motor and non-motor symptoms at the same time. These symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Becoming stiff.
  • Convulsions.
  • Rapid jerking.
  • A cut in oxygen, thus a blue/violet face.
  • Bowel movement problems.
  • Loss of bladder functions
  • Staring spells.
  • A prolonged halt in movement.

These seizures will often last a very short amount of time, ranging from less than a minute to about 2 minutes. However, when it makes it past 3 minutes, emergency services may need to be set in place.

Tonic Seizures

Tonic seizures, or grand mal seizures, are characterized as having two stages: a clonic and a tonic phase. This is often considered a dangerous and lethal form of seizure, as the symptoms become more severe and can have drastic impacts on cardiovascular functions.


This seizure has an aura as well, or a prerequisite or a partial seizure that happens before the actual seizure. This usually has the patient experience heightened senses, nausea, anxiety, and vertigo.

Tonic Activity

The tonic phase will usually end with the patient losing consciousness and fainting, as the spasms that happen force a lot of air out of the lungs. This is also characterized by foaming at the mouth and a complete loss of awareness of one’s surroundings. They may also subconsciously bite their own tongue, which can cause complications with breathing and resuscitation.

Clonic Activity

The clonic stage is characterized by jerking movements all over the body, such as in the arms and legs, face, and torso. This can continue for up to several minutes, but it will eventually start to slow down as the person regains control of the body. It is recommended the patient recovers normal breathing after the seizures.

Takeaway (Conclusion/Learnings)

When you happen to come across a person with a seizure, it is important that you know what they are going through and understand that it takes a lot of patience and calmness when dealing with something as shocking as a seizure attack. Rarely do these end fatally, but when you approach with anything less than a calm demeanor, then it will make the situation worse. Make sure that you are composed so you are in proper shape to help out someone who can not even compose themselves.

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