Seizures Explained

Simply put, a seizure occurs when the brain malfunctions due to a sudden discharge of electrical activity, causing the affected person to collapse and convulse or experience a similar disturbance in brain activity. Depending on the type, an affected person can experience minor amnesia of the event. Seizures can occur in infants, children and adults.

Seizure Causes

Seizures can affect any kind of person, but the main cause is usually epilepsy, which is a diverse set of disorders cataloged by various neurological disorders. It may also occur due to having low glucose levels in the blood; when a person does not eat for a long period of time, his blood sugar decreases until it reaches dangerous levels, causing seizures and a coma.

Understanding seizures

Types of Seizures

There is not just one single kind of seizure. In fact, there are several kinds, such as grand mal, absence, myoclonic, clonic, tonic and atonic. The most common generalized type is grand mal, which is a complete convulsion followed by body stiffening and potentially a loss of consciousness.

In partial seizures, there is a simple type in which patients retain awareness or complex, in which patients will engage in an automatism, such as fidgeting or lip smacking involuntarily.

Symptoms of a Seizure

Naturally, the symptoms of a seizure will vary depending on the kind that occurred. Consider seizures in stages as they have a beginning, middle and end. In the beginning, the affected individual may be aware of the oncoming seizure as he can sense it. When this occurs, this is known as an aura, but it is not always present before a seizure.

In the middle of the seizure, the patient experiences a sudden discharge of electrical activity in the brain, and the brain activity is then disrupted. Depending on the kind of seizure, what occurs here will vary. If there are no further symptoms after the aura, the seizure would be classified as a simple partial seizure that the patient was aware of. However, it can lead into a complex partial seizure or even turn into a total convulsion.

The transition back into the normal state is the ending stage of the seizure, which is also known as the “post-ictal period.” This ending stage of the seizure is also the recovery period in which the brain works to go back to normal after the electrical discharge it experienced. Depending on the strength of the seizure and exactly which parts were affected, the post-ictal period of the seizure can be as short as a few seconds or could be as severe as a few hours. During this period, the affected individual also gradually regains awareness of his surroundings and of himself.