Chat and Community Forums Closed

Due to the popularity of social media, we have seen decreasing engagement on our forums and chat. Please know we want to keep talking to you about epilepsy, seizures, and what you need. We want to stay connected with you.

Community Forum


I don't know if I spelled that right (auros). I was diagnosised with pettimal seizures at age 13. I think it is now known as absence seizures. I went off the meds at age 15 (due to the foster care system) and never been on them since. I am now experiencing problems with memory, spaceyness, headaches, vertigo like feelings, tiredness... they are all effecting my general well being and my life. I recently have started to try and figure out what is going on which brought me to research the pettimal seizures I was diagnosised with 17yrs ago. I came across auros on here and been reading aout them. I get the dejavu/premonition thing a lot but so do a lot of other people who don't have seizures. I will suuddenly feel like I have experienced or dreamt everything I am experiencing at that moment and yet don't actually remember ever having that said premonition, experience or dream. So, I know its not an actual premonition and yet it feels like it. Its a very weird trance like feeling when it happens. Reading about auros made me think about my fat tongue sensation. Since I was a kid, when i laid down to go to sleep I would get this awful sensation like I had a fat tongue. It felt swollen and big in my mouth but really wasn't. I now wonder if that was a auro. It only happened when i would lay down at night to go to sleep. Can you have different auros or are they all the same everytime?


Re: auros

I found this on the web

(Complex visual hallucinations include a variety of images, which includes scenes, persons, animals, and material items. The images are usual uniform and stereotyped but patients with variable hallucinations are reported (100). Formed and complex visual hallucinations suggest involvement of visual association cortex.)

Ictal Behavior Originating in the Occipital Lobe

The occipital lobe is the major site of the cortical visual system. The primary visual cortex is located superior and inferior to the calcarine sulcus in Brodman's area 17 (Figure 2.3). Much of remaining occipital cortex has been identified as visual association areas; the visual association area overlaps into the posterior temporal and parietal areas.

Typical Seizures of Occipital Lobe Origin

Visual Seizures

Because most of the occipital lobe is involved in visual function, occipital lobe seizures are frequently preceded by a visual aura. Visual auras include ictal amaurosis or hemianopsia, elementary or complex visual hallucinations, and visual illusions (85,94).

Ictal amaurosis describes ictal blindness and is uncommon. It may be preceded by ictal hemianopsia. If hemianopsia occurs, it has lateralizing significance to the contralateral occipital lobe. Ictal amaurosis lasts seconds to minutes and may be the sole manifestation of an occipital lobe seizure (95). It can be described by the patient as a whiteout or blackout. There may be initial blurring (96). Ictal blindness has been associated with the visual association cortex rather than with the primary visual cortex (97). Elementary visual hallucinations are images of shapes, colors, patterns, or waves that may have a flickering component (6,98). These can occur in one hemifield and, if so, they lateralize to the contralateral hemisphere. Elementary visual hallucinations are associated with the primary visual cortex. It has been shown that if elementary visual hallucinations are stationary they originate in area 17. If movement of the phosgens is present, they may originate in area 18 or 19 (6,99).

Complex visual hallucinations include a variety of images, which includes scenes, persons, animals, and material items. The images are usual uniform and stereotyped but patients with variable hallucinations are reported (100). Formed and complex visual hallucinations suggest involvement of visual association cortex.

Visual illusions include macropsia, micropsia, metamorphopsia, and pallinopsia. Patients with macropsia perceive an object bigger than its actual size. Patients with micropsia perceive an object smaller than the actual size. Metamorphopsia presents as distortions of form, size, or color. Pallinopsia is a visual preservation of an image long after the cessation of the visual stimulus (101). Visual illusions are thought to orginate in the visual association cortex, therefore the temporoparietal junction may also be involved. Distortions of body image have been described with parietal lobe seizure onset (47); however, this most likely is a disturbance of self perception rather than a visual illusion.

In occipital lobe seizures, a pulling or moving sensation in the eyes has been reported without detectable movements (94,102). Penfield observed eye fluttering with stimulation of the occipital lobe (6). Bilateral rapid eye blinking as a manifestation of occipital lobe seizures was confirmed with intracranial studies (94,103).

Ictal nystagmus is a rare seizure manifestation and has been associated with occipital seizure onset. Horizontal nystagmus has been reported in several patients with epileptic involvement of the cortical saccade region, and lateralization of the slow phase to the contralateral side has been demonstrated (104).

In a previous study, contralateral eye deviation was observed in thirteen of twenty-five patients with occiptal seizures onset; however, ipsilateral eye-deviation was observed in three (94). Eye deviation was also frequently observed in children with occipital lobe seizures (105). Ajmone-Marsan proposed three propagation patterns of occipital lobe epilepsy: mesial suprasylvian, lateral suprasylvian, and infrasylvian (4). In mesial suprasylvian spread, bilateral or unilateral tonic posturing may be observed due to the involvement of the SMA. Lateral suprasylvian spread results in clonic motor activity due to the involvement of the motor cortex, and infrasylvian spread may resemble a temporal lobe seizure. Ajmone-Marsan's description of spread patterns was later confirmed by intracranial EEG studies (94,106–109). Often patients are amnestic for the initial aura or symptoms; therefore, occipital lobe seizures can be mistaken easily as seizure either of temporal or frontal origin.

Seizures originating in the occipital lobe occur most commonly in benign childhood epilepsy with occipital paroxysms (110). Seizures begin with visual symptoms (as described earlier) and may progress to head turning, eye-deviation, vomiting, and hemiconvulsions following the described electrical propagation patterns.

Benign childhood epilepsy with occipital paroxysms manifests itself in childhood and is characterized by mainly nocturnal seizures.

Occipital lobe seizures may also be caused by lesions or cortical dysplasias, but are more difficult to recognize if they do not clearly present with visual symptoms.

Migraine is associated with visual scotoma that may resemble the elementary visual hallucinations as seen in occipital lobe seizures. It has been suggested that epileptic visual hallucinations are colored and migraine scotoma are black and white (111). However, because occipital epilepsy can be accompanied by vomiting and headaches, clinical distinction between epilepsy and migraine can be difficult without additional testing (refer to Chapter 9).

Re: Re: auros

I usually only have seizures once every three months with auras may be once a day or more depends on the day i guess "strong deja vu"... some times many a day.. unil i started taking lamictal which im not taking any more just started keppra Im not sure how long ive been on 1000mg of keppra i havent been keeping track.. Im not sure how many times ive blacked out when i do its only a few seconds...

I hope all this info will help you...

What is it?
Epilepsy is a disorder that is characterized by the tendency to have seizures over and over again over a period of time, called recurring seizures. A seizure is a sudden disruption of the brain's normal electrical activity, which can cause a loss of consciousness and make the body twitch and jerk, called convulsions.

Who gets it?
About 25% of all cases of epilepsy develop before the age of five. One in every two cases develops before the age of 25. Some types of seizure disorders are inherited at birth, or tend to run in families.

What causes it?
There are clusters of nerve cells in the brain called neurons. A person's thoughts, feelings, and actions are produced by the electrochemical impulses that the neurons generate. Usually, the neurons send signals, or fire, around 80 times a second. Various conditions and stimuli can cause the neurons to fire abnormally, which causes a seizure. During a seizure, neurons may fire as many as 500 times a second. In about 50 to 70% of all cases of epilepsy, the cause of the abnormal electrical impulses is unknown. Epilepsy without a known cause is called ideopathic.

Other forms of epilepsy occur because of brain injury at birth, which can be caused by insufficient oxygen to the brain, head injury, heavy bleeding; incompatible blood types between the mother and the child, and infection immediately before, after, or at the time of birth. One type of seizure disorder, called juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, is inherited at birth. Other causes include head trauma; alcohol abuse; birth defects; brain or spinal cord inflammation; diseases such as measles, mumps, and diphtheria; inhaling or ingesting poisonous substances such as lead, mercury, or carbon monoxide; or stopping anti-seizure medication suddenly. People with disorders including cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis, pyruvate deficiency, tuberous sclerosis, Landau-Kleffner syndrome, and autism often suffer from epilepsy as a symptom. Epileptic seizures can be triggered by flashing lights, video games, repetitive sounds, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, cigarette smoking, or hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of epileptic seizures depend upon the area of the brain affected by the abnormal electrical discharge. The cerebrum, the part of the brain divided into the right and left hemispheres, is further divided into the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes. The frontal lobes control motor behavior such as speech, mood, thought, and planning. Frontal lobe epilepsy usually involves a group of short seizures that begin and end suddenly. The parietal lobes interpret sensory input from the rest of the body and control body movement. Parietal lobe seizures tend to spread to other areas of the brain. The occipital lobes interpret vision. Occipital lobe epilepsy usually begins with visual hallucinations, rapid eye blinking, or other eye-related symptoms. The temporal lobes generate memory and emotions. Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) often begins in childhood and the seizures are signaled by an aura. The areas of the brain affected determine whether the symptoms are motor, in which parts of the body jerk and twitch; sensory, which causes numbness or tingling up and down one side of the body; visual, where the patient thinks he or she sees things that actually are not there; or auditory, which causes the patient to imagine voices, music, and other sounds. Seizures can also cause confusion, nausea, and emotional distress.

There are many different types of epileptic seizures, each with different symptoms. People who have epilepsy may have more than one type of seizure. With a simple partial seizure, the abnormal electrical discharges occur in just a small area of the brain, called the focal area. Symptoms depend upon what part of the brain is affected. For example, if the electrical discharge occurs in the part of the brain that controls left arm muscle movement, the left arm may shake and jerk. The patient does not usually lose consciousness, and can describe the seizure when it is over.

A jacksonian seizure is a partial seizure in which symptoms begin in one part of the body, such as an arm or leg, and then move up the affected limb as the electrical discharge spreads in the brain. Simple partial seizures can lead to complex partial seizures when the abnormal electrical discharge moves beyond the focal area. These seizures are often signaled by an unusual smell, taste, or sensation called an aura. For approximately one to two minutes, the patient may be completely confused, then stagger around, make unintelligible sounds, and resist any help. Temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common type of epilepsy syndrome with partial seizures. Complex partial seizures are also called psychomotor seizures because they affect consciousness and movement. Partial seizures can spread to other parts of the brain and cause a generalized seizure. Generalized epileptic seizures occur when electrical abnormalities exist throughout the brain. A generalized tonic-clonic (grand-mal) seizure usually begins with an abnormal electrical discharge in a small area of the brain, which then quickly spreads to adjoining parts of the brain until the whole area is affected. The person usually lets out a loud cry before losing consciousness and falling to the ground. While unconscious, the person's body becomes rigid, called the tonic phase, then the muscles alternately relax and contract, called the clonic phase. The tonic phase usually lasts for around 30 seconds, which the clonic phase lasts for 30 to 60 seconds. During the seizure, the patient will turn his or her head violently to one side, clench the teeth, and may lose bowel or bladder control. If the patient has trouble breathing, the skin may take on a bluish tint. A person who has a tonic-clonic seizure will be confused when he or she regains consciousness, and may have a headache, muscle aches, weakness in the arms or legs, and feel deeply tired. Absence (petit mal) seizures usually begin occurring around the age of four, and last from 15 to 20 seconds. A child having an absence seizure will usually lose consciousness briefly. He or she will become very quiet and may blink, stare blankly, roll the eyes, or move the lips. The seizure ends as suddenly as it began, and the child resumes his or her activity, completely unaware of what had happened. These types of seizures usually stop by adolescence. However, if left untreated, petit mal seizures can occur up to 100 times a day. They can eventually lead to tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures.

Status epilepticus is a life-threatening seizure disorder in which the seizure does not stop. The patient loses consciousness, has trouble breathing, and has severe muscle contractions and convulsions. Other types of epileptic seizures include juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, an inherited condition. Myoclonic seizures are characterized by brief, involuntary spasms of the tongue, facial muscles, arms, or legs. They are most likely to occur upon waking from a night's sleep. Akinetic seizures, also called drop attacks because they cause the patient to fall, also occur in young children. They are characterized by limp posture and a brief period of unconsciousness. Other types of epilepsy that begin in childhood include Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, characterized by several different types of seizures, including drop attacks, and Rasmussen's encephalitis, a progressive type of epilepsy in which half of the brain shows continual inflammation. coordination and cognitive abilities in addition to seizures. The most common type of infantile epilepsy is infantile spasms, which are clusters of seizures that usually begin before the child is 6 months old. Some epilepsy syndromes don't affect thinking or development. This is called benign epilepsy syndrome, and includes benign infantile encephalopathy and benign neonatal convulsions.

Epilepsy syndromes that cause a person's cognitive or motor abilities to get worse over time are called progressive epilepsy syndromes. In many cases, epilepsy can cause the patient to develop behavioral and emotional problems. This is especially common in children.

How is it diagnosed?
Seizure disorders such as epilepsy are diagnosed through a description of symptoms during the seizure, and a test called an electroencephalogram (EEG). Electrodes are placed on the scalp to measure the brain's electrical activity and check for any abnormalities in the brain waves. The patient may need to be hospitalized for longer term EEG monitoring, or a video EEG, which records what the patient was doing during the seizure. If epilepsy is suspected, the doctor may order more tests to look for a possible cause. These may include blood tests to check sugar, calcium, and sodium levels, liver and kidney function, and white blood cell count; an electrocardiogram to check for an abnormal heart rhythm; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans to check for cancer, brain tumors, or signs of stroke or damage to the brain tissue. A spinal tap may be performed to check for brain infection. The doctor will also test the patient's motor skills, behavior, and intellectual skills to determine how the epilepsy has affected the person, as well as to determine what type of epilepsy the person has. Other techniques that are used to diagnose epilepsy are positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission tomography (SPECT), which monitor blood flow and chemical activity in the brain area being tested. Doctors may also use an diagnostic technique called a magnetoencephalogram (MEG). This test can pick up the magnetic signals generated by neurons so doctors can monitor brain activity at different points in the brain over time. A MEG can detect signals from deeper in the brain than an EEG. All these tests will help the doctor decide on a course of treatment.

What is the treatment?
A person having a seizure is never restrained. Healthcare providers recommend loosening the person's clothing and removing any hard or sharp objects on which he or she could get hurt. Never put anything in the mouth of someone having a seizure. However, if the seizure causes the person to bite his or her tongue, you can place a soft, folded cloth between the person's teeth and tongue. Turning his or her head to one side will help with breathing. Seizures caused by some underlying medical condition usually stop once the medical condition is treated. Epilepsy is treated with antiseizure drugs. Some people have to take more than one drug to control epilepsy. The most commonly used drugs are those containing phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, primidone, valproic acid and sodium valproate, clonazepam, and ethosuximide. Patients on antiseizure medications must see their doctor regularly for blood tests to check the levels of the drugs in the bloodstream and to monitor any side effects. Side effects that should be reported to the doctor include sluggishness, dizziness, hyperactivity, uncontrolled eye movements, speech or vision problems, nausea or vomiting, or problems sleeping. Status epilepticus requires emergency treatment, usually with drugs such as Valium (Ativan), Dilantin, or Barbita. If the condition is caused by low blood sugar, the patient is given an intravenous (IV) sugar solution.

Surgery is only considered for patients who have seizures that cannot be controlled with medication (called intractable epilepsy), or where the medication causes intolerable side effects. Brain surgery is most effective in cases where the doctor can pinpoint the affected area of the brain, and where the diseased brain tissue, called a lesion, can be removed without affecting normal brain function. There are several types of surgery used to treat intractable epilepsy. With a lesionectomy, the surgeon removes the lesion and some of the surrounding brain tissue. A temporal resection involves removing part of the temporal lobe, the area of the brain responsible for memory and emotions. While some patients experience post-operative speech and memory problems, this procedure is effective at controlling seizures in 75 to 80% of patients with epilepsy triggered in the temporal lobe area of the brain. An extra-temporal resection involves removing some or all of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain directly behind the forehead that controls speech, mood, thought, and planning. This procedure is most successful in patients whose seizures don't affect a widespread area of the brain. Patients with severe epilepsy and widespread abnormal electrical discharges may benefit from a hemispherectomy. Hemispherectomies are more commonly performed on infants or young children with extensive brain disease or disorders since birth or shortly after. Children who frequently injure themselves by falling during seizures may undergo a procedure called a corpus callosotomy.

With this procedure, the surgeon removes some or all of the nerve fibers, called the corpus callosum, that separates the two halves of the brain. The surgeon usually begins by removing two-thirds of the corpus callosum. The remaining one-third is only removed if no improvement is seen. A multiple subpial transection is used to control the spread of seizures that originate in or affect the area of the brain responsible for complex thought and reasoning. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a non-surgical alternative that can be used in patients older than 16 who have intractable partial seizures. The vagus nerve runs from the side of the neck into the brain, and affects functions that include swallowing, heart rate, speech, and breathing. With VNS, a battery-powered device somewhat like a pacemaker is implanted under the skin of the upper left chest area. The device periodically stimulates the vagus nerve, which has been found to prevent or shorten some seizures. Alternative treatments that may help patients at least partially control their seizures include relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture or acupressure, and dietary changes. Epileptic children with behavioral and emotional problems often benefit from counseling.

Self-care tips
If you have epilepsy, you should wear a medical bracelet or necklace that identifies your disorder and lists any medications you take. You can help prevent seizures by following a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping your stress levels to a minimum. Since fevers can trigger seizures, take medication to lower fever at the first sign of illness. If your seizures begin with an aura, get to a safe place where you can lie down until the seizure passes. Also make sure those close to you know what to do when you have a seizure. You can protect yourself from injuries that cause epilepsy by wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle, skateboard, or motorcycle, or when playing sports, and wearing a seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle.


This information has been designed as a comprehensive and quick reference guide written by our health care reviewers. The health information written by our authors is intended to be a supplement to the care provided by your physician. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.


Re: auros

Ive been looking up these sites because I have what some would call premonition's they feel more like seizures to me I also had petit mal seizures as a child I went un treated until about 9 months ago when i blacked out at work... some of this info may helo you to understand whats going on... my motherinlaw has close a friend who is a psychic and all I can say is if you meet anyone like that online dont listen to them..... they can do more hurt to you than you think... trust me she thinks I have Clairvoyance - the ability to see things beyond our normal senses.. I think shes kinda a lost person and feel sorry for her.... I wanted to bring this up to you because I know having these type of seizures can be really weird and scary.. and they kinda just hit you all at once...

What are the Different Kinds of Epilepsy
Just as there are many different types of seizures, there are many different types of epilepsy syndromes. Each epilepsy syndrome has a specific set of symptoms.

There are hundreds of epilepsy syndromes, many of them very rare. These syndromes are often named for their symptoms or for the part of the brain where they originate.

Many of these epilepsy syndromes originate in childhood or even in infancy. Others begin in adulthood and even in old age.

Some of the most common types of epilepsy are:

Absence epilepsy

Temporal lobe epilepsy

Frontal lobe epilepsy

Occipital lobe epilepsy

Parietal lobe epilepsy

Different Types Of Seizures

Absence Epilepsy
People with absence epilepsy have repeated absence seizures. Absence epilepsy tends to run in families. The seizures frequently begin in childhood or adolescence. If the seizures begin in childhood, they usually stop at puberty.

Although the seizures don't have a lasting effect on intelligence or other brain functions, children with absence epilepsy frequently have so many seizures that it interferes with school and other normal activities.

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most frequent cause of partial seizures and aura. The temporal lobe is located close to the ear. It is the part of the brain where smell is processed and where the choice is made to express a thought or remain silent.

TLE often begins in childhood. Repeated TLE seizures can damage the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is important for memory and learning. Although the damage progresses very slowly, it is important to treat TLE as early as possible.

Frontal Lobe Epilepsy
The frontal lobes of the brain lie behind the forehead. They are the largest of the five lobes and are thought to be the centers that control personality and higher thought processes, including language and speech.

Frontal lobe epilepsy causes a cluster of short seizures that start and stop suddenly. The symptoms depend upon the part of the frontal lobe affected.

Occipital Lobe Epilepsy
The occipital lobe lies at the back of the skull. Occipital lobe epilepsy is like frontal and temporal lobe epilepsies, except that the seizures usually begin with visual hallucinations, rapid blinking, and other symptoms related to the eyes.

Parietal Lobe Epilepsy
The parietal lobe lies between the frontal and temporal lobes. Parietal lobe epilepsy is similar to other types in part because parietal lobe seizures tend to spread to other areas of the brain.

Different Types Of Seizures
Just as there are many types of epilepsy, there are many types of seizures. Not all seizures are epilepsy. Seizures fall into two major categories:

Partial seizures take place in one particular part of the brain.

Generalized seizures affect the whole brain.

Partial Seizures
Partial seizures are often named for the part of the brain in which they happen. For example, a person might be said to have partial frontal lobe seizures if the abnormalities occur in the part of the brain right behind the forehead. About 60% of all people who have epilepsy have this type of seizure.

Recurrent partial seizures are sometimes called psychomotor seizures. The term "psychomotor" refers to the interaction between brain and muscles, and in this case refers to the twitches and hallucinations that characterize the seizures. There are several types of partial seizures:

Simple partial seizures

Complex partial seizures


Secondarily generalized seizures

Simple partial seizures.

People who have simple partial seizures stay awake and aware but may hear, see, smell, or taste things that aren't real. They may also suddenly feel afraid, angry, happy or sad for no reason. They may become confused or experience jerking or tingling in an arm or leg.

This type of seizure is sometimes called a focal seizure. It may also be called Jacksonian epilepsy, after Hughlings Jackson, a British doctor who was the first to describe it.

Complex partial seizures.

Complex partial seizures usually begin with a blank stare that indicates a brief loss of consciousness. People who have these seizures may blink, twitch, chew or smack the lips repeatedly. They may seem drunk, express exaggerated anger or fear, and throw things around. They may struggle against restraint. These seizures usually last no more than two minutes.

About 80% of these complex partial seizures take place in the temporal lobe of the brain, which is close to the ear, and they are sometimes called temporal lobe seizures. These seizures may also originate in the frontal lobes.


Some people who have partial seizures experience unusual sensations that warn them that they are about to have a seizure. This premonitory state is called aura.

Auras take several different forms:

Sometimes it is perceived as a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach or a sense of "deja vu" (already seen).

Sometimes it takes the form of an auditory hallucination, like an advertising jingle.

A person experiencing an aura is having a simple partial seizure without losing consciousness.

Secondarily generalized seizures.

Sometimes people have partial seizures that spread to the whole brain and become generalized seizures. This transition can be so rapid that the partial seizure isn't noticed.

Generalized Seizures
Generalized seizures affect a more widespread area of the brain than the partial seizures do and they have more serious consequences. The types of generalized seizures are:

Absence seizures (Petit mal)

Tonic seizures

Clonic seizures

Myoclonic seizures

Atonic seizures

Tonic-clonic seizures (Grand mal)

Absence seizures.

Absence seizures, also called petit mal (which means "little sickness"), cause a momentary loss of consciousness. These episodes usually last less than 30 seconds and may be so brief that they go unnoticed. People with absence epilepsy can experience as many as 50 to 100 of these seizures a day. They may look as though they are simply staring off into space or they may go rigid or jerk and twitch.

Tonic seizures.

Tonic seizures cause the muscles to stiffen, but no twitching occurs. These seizures usually affect the back, arms, and legs. People who have tonic seizures lose consciousness for about 10 seconds.

Clonic seizures.

Clonic seizures cause muscles to jerk on both sides of the body, but the body does not go rigid as in tonic seizures. This type of seizure is rare and affects mostly young children.

Myoclonic seizures.

Myoclonic seizures may cause the muscles to jerk and twitch in a part of the body such as an arm or leg, or in the whole body.

Atonic seizures.

Atonic seizures cause a complete loss of muscle tone. These seizures are also called drop attacks because people who have them will suddenly lose consciousness and collapse. After a period as short as 10 seconds, the person regains consciousness and can stand and walk again.

Atonic seizures are sometimes mistaken for fainting. But a faint begins slowly and can be avoided by lying down.

Atonic seizures can also affect a single part of the body such as the jaw and neck. In this case, the jaw will briefly go slack and the head will drop.

Tonic-clonic seizures.

Also known as grand mal (which means "big sickness"), tonic-clonic seizures cause a mixture of symptoms:

The seizure may begin with a tonic phase in which the muscles suddenly go rigid.

After about 30 seconds, the seizure may enter the clonic phase in which the muscles go rigid and relax in spasms.

Bladder and bowel control may be lost.

The throat tightens so that breathing makes a high-pitched sound called stridor.

Some people have an aura before a tonic-clonic seizure. These seizures usually last two or three minutes. They are followed by a brief sleep-like state. People feel very tired and confused after tonic-clonic seizures.

What Kinds Of Seizure Are Not Epilepsy?
First-time seizures

Febrile seizures



First-time seizures.

Many people have a single seizure at some point in their lives. These seizures may be provoked by something like a reaction to a drug, but sometimes they happen for no obvious reason.

Only if the person has had a serious head injury at some point in their lives, or has a family history of epilepsy, would a solitary seizure be potentially considered epilepsy. Only about a third of the people who have first seizures ever have a second episode.

Febrile seizures.

"Febrile" comes from the Latin word for fever and indicates seizure caused by a high fever. Children sometimes have an episode of convulsions during an illness with high fever, but most children who have a febrile seizure do not develop epilepsy. Only 2% to 3% of children who have febrile seizures continue to have seizures.


Sometimes people have episodes that look like seizures, but their brains show no abnormal activity. These episodes are called pseudoseizures or nonepileptic events. Sometimes pseudoseizures are caused by psychological stresses. They can also be caused by other diseases and conditions.


If a pregnant woman develops a sudden rise in blood pressure and experiences seizures, the condition is called eclampsia. This condition is life-threatening and should be treated as an emergency. Eclampsia is treated in the hospital. The seizures usually disappear once the pregnancy is over.

Back to Top of Page

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

24/7 helpline