Epilepsy seizures are not all the same. Some can be mild and last only a minute or two. Others can cause problems that last much longer. Sudden, repeating seizures can cause harm to the heart or brain, and death if emergency care is not given right away.
There are many types of seizures. They each have their own symptoms.
These seizures start from one part of the brain. You may have:
Partial seizures may spread from one part of the body to another. Focal seizures may spread to both sides of the brain.
These seizures start from both sides of the brain. You may have:
Absence seizures, also called petit mal, are more common in children. A child may have:
There are also other types of generalized seizures without convulsions.
Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115086/Epilepsy-in-adults. Updated November 9, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2019.
Epilepsy in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900174/Epilepsy-in-children. Updated March 22, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2019.
Epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Epilepsy-Information-Page. Updated June 18, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2019.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). The epilepsies: the diagnosis and management of the epilepsies in adults and children in primary and secondary care. NICE 2012 Jan:CG137.
What happens during a seizure? Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at:
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Updated March 19, 2014. Accessed March 27, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 3/26/2019