Seizures & Epilepsy: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Differences

The Emergency Center Carefully Explains Everything You Need To Know About Epileptic Seizures

Seizures and seizure disorders may not exactly be a new phenomenon—after all, Julius Caesar was known to suffer from “the falling sickness”—but they are often more complex and mysterious than many may realize. Epilepsy and seizures are also quite common, which is why knowing when to get emergency medical help is important in the event a friend or family member ever has one.
Seizures & Epilepsy: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Differences

Types Of Seizures: Do All Seizures Involve Convulsions?

Seizures are often associated with people falling to the floor with uncontrolled muscles convulsions for a period of time. While that is one type of seizure (formerly called a grand mal seizure and now called a tonic-clonic seizure), it’s far from the only kind. In fact, there are at least eight types of seizures across to two categories:

Focal Seizures

Caused by irregular electrical activity in one part of the brain, this class of seizures can lead to a temporary, altered mental state or repetitive muscle movements like clenching and unclenching hands. Focal seizures may also result in brief changes in taste, smell, emotional state or lead to an unusual overall feeling. Often those who experience a focal seizure have no memory of it, and they may or may not lose consciousness.

Generalized Seizures

These seizures are due to widespread abnormal electrical activity in the brain and can result in a wide range of symptoms depending on the exact type. Generalized seizures are more often associated with loss of muscle control like jerking movements, stiffening, twitching, falling down or sudden loss of muscle use

What Causes Seizures?

Seizures can be a one-off occurrence caused by an illness, injury, medication, visual stimulants or even lack of sleep. They also can be due to a chronic condition such as epilepsy that requires ongoing treatment, which typically involves medication but sometimes a procedure is necessary.

What To Do When Someone Has An Epileptic Episode

In some instances, a seizure can be mistaken for mental illness or another condition affecting the brain or central nervous system. Because people experiencing seizures often are not aware of what is happening (even if they do not lose consciousness), it’s important for bystanders to know when it’s time to get emergency medical help.

When To Seek Medical Help From An Emergency Room

  • Multiple Seizures In a Row
  • Breathing Difficulty After A Seizure
  • Consciousness Doesn’t Return After The Seizure Stops
  • The Convulsions Last More Than Five minutes
  • An Injury Occurs During The Seizure
  • The Individual Suffering The Seizure Is Pregnant, Has Diabetes Or Has High Fever

Even if a seizure does not precisely meet these criteria, seeking medical help for any seizure—generalized or focal—is never a bad idea. Emergent care facilities like The Emergency Center have the tools needed to diagnose and quickly address complications that may arise from a seizure.

World Purple Day: Epilepsy Awareness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3.4 million Americans suffer from epilepsy, making it the most common seizure disorder. The Emergency Center is proud to join millions from around the globe in recognizing March 26 as World Purple Day® to help raise awareness about this condition and all those who suffer from it. We invite you to join in wearing purple on March 26 and encouraging your family, friends and coworkers to do the same.

Enjoy life. We’ll be here for the bumps along the way.


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The Emergency Center

San Antonio
11320 Alamo Ranch Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78253

Phone: 210-485-3644