Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. The seizures happen when clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain send out the wrong signals. People may have strange sensations and emotions or behave strangely. They may have violent muscle spasms or lose consciousness.

Epilepsy has many possible causes, including illness, brain injury and abnormal brain development. In many cases, the cause is unknown.(IDIOPATHIC)

Doctors use brain scans and other tests to diagnose epilepsy. It is important to start treatment right away. There is no cure for epilepsy, but medicines can control seizures for most people. When medicines are not working well, surgery or implanted devices such as vagus nerve stimulators may help. Special diets can help some children with epilepsy.


Seizures are symptoms of a brain problem. They happen due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain which is very sudden. When people think of seizures, they often think of convulsions in which a person’s body shakes rapidly and uncontrollably. Not all seizures cause convulsions. There are many types of seizures and some have mild symptoms. Seizures fall into two main groups. Focal seizures, also called partial seizures, happen in just one part of the brain. Generalized seizures are a result of abnormal activity on both sides of the brain. Seizures last from 30 to 2 minutes, if it last for more than 5 minutes it’s a medical emergency.It can have many causes e.g. medicine, head injuries , high fever and other diseases.


The international classification of epileptic seizures (ICES) that was published in 1981 is widely used by physicians as a diagnostic tool. Despite some advantages, the ICES has limitations, the most important of which is that it is based on clinical and EEG data. An alternative seizure classification, the semiological classification, which is a purely symptom-based seizure classification, was recently proposed. This simple classification consists of four major categories that correspond to symptoms affecting a different domain of behavior: sensorial (auras), consciousness, autonomic and motor. Because seizures can include symptoms in more than one domain of behavior, they are classified according to the predominant symptoms (without placing emphasis on particular symptoms as the ICES does). This classification can be made with the use of video recording but, because it is based exclusively on clinical data, it can be based on history alone.

Seizure Types and Characteristics

Seizure type Characteristics
Grand mal Unconsciousness, convulsions, muscle rigidity
Absence Brief loss of consciousness
Myoclonic Sporadic (isolated) jerking movements
Clonic Repetitive, rhythmic jerking movements
Tonic Muscle stiffness, rigidity
Atonic Loss of muscle tone
Simple (awareness Is retained)
Motor symptoms Jerking, muscle rigidity, spasms, head-turning
Sensory symptoms Unusual sensations affecting vision, hearing, smell, taste or touch
Autonomic symptoms Stomach sensation
Psychologic symptoms Memory or emotional disturbances (e.g., déjà vu, fear)
Complex (impairment of awareness) Automatisms such as lip smacking, chewing, fidgeting, walking and other repetitive, stereotyped movements
Partial seizure that becomes generalized Seizure Begins as partial (simple or complex) and evolves into grand mal seizure

The International League Against Epilepsy has recently acknowledged the shortcomings of the ICES system and is developing a new classification system. The League’s system will establish four levels of classification: (1) a descriptive seizure classification largely based on the semiologic classification described above; (2) a pathophysiologic seizure classification; (3) an epileptic syndrome disease classification comparable to the existing epilepsy classification and (4) a classification based on functional disability.



About mdmedicine

Medical student. Interested in learning and promoting medical field.
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