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  • Writer's pictureEpilepsy Connections: ECA

Seizures types: A guide the the various different forms of seizures.

The different types of seizures, how they occur, the symptoms experienced AND the medical definitions... well, it can be a maze for people to navigate.

ECA is releasing a basic breakdown of current definitions for seizures with both medical definitions and visual guides to help people find out information in real terms they can understand and relate to.

We will go through each type of seizure - with medical information specific to the type - and provide an information poster on that exact seizure classification as an easy guide that can be copied / printed for future reference (especially for kids). We hope to provide an easy to access reference table for people to use and gauge their symptoms related to possible seizure types.

ECA ran a series of online stories that are still used today by many of our clients for information on the different types of seizures. In this blog post we will provide links to the individual stories plus a summary of each story and what it relates to - so you can read a brief summary of the article then simply follow the provided link to read the more detailed post



AEDs / Epilepsy medications do not cure epilepsy or treat the reason why epilepsy has started. They are taken to try and stop the symptoms of epilepsy – the seizures. They aim to stop seizures from happening. They do not stop a seizure once it has started. They are prophylactic (preventative) and are usually taken one to four times a day depending on regime.

"We're trying to block a river in your mind - we need a damn to stop it but we only have small stones. We have to put them in one-by-one and day-by-day, but the longer and more consistently we do it the bigger, stronger and more effective that damn gets. And as we go along the stones we use will get bigger and heavier. In the meantime water will still get through, and when it rains - it will probably flood every time with disastrous effects in many cases. If you stop your medication however - the whole damn collapses and we have to start from scratch. But once we get that one final stone in place.. the water will finally stop. It will no longer flood, even when it rains. And all we have to do is maintain those stones..."

To read the full story on medications - follow the link to our Facebook event post below:




Tonic-clonic seizures can be one of the most frightening seizures to observe. A generalised tonic-clonic seizure, previously called a grand mal seizure, is a disturbance in the functioning of both sides of your brain. This disturbance is caused by electrical signals spreading through the brain inappropriately. Often this will result in signals being sent to your muscles, nerves, or glands.

The spread of these signals in your brain can make you lose consciousness and have severe muscle contractions. There are three parts to a tonic-clonic seizure: the "Tonic Phase" (loss of consciousness), the "Clonic Phase" (muscle spasms) and the "Post Ictal Phase" (confusion, delirium or psychosis).

To read the full story on Tonic Clonic seizures - follow the link to our Facebook event post below:




A focal onset (impaired) seizure begins in one side of the brain and causes some level of loss of awareness of consciousness - compared to Focal onset (aware) seizures where consciousness is kept for the most degree. We used to call these Complex partial seizures. Focal onset seizures (both forms) are the most common type of seizures in adults with epilepsy.

Some people may also call them temporal lobe seizures if they start in the temporal lobes of the brain - but they are not specific to that area in all cases. An even older term is "psychomotor seizures". These seizures usually start in one area or group of brain cells, most often in the temporal lobe or frontal lobe of the brain. They can also start in other areas too - and research shows the seizures starting in the frontal lobe tend to be shorter than the ones from the temporal lobe.

There are several medications that can help prevent focal impaired awareness seizures. Other treatment options include Surgery, Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), Responsive neurostimulation and Dietary therapy. A neurologist can help you learn about the risks, treatments, and outlook for the future. If you think yourself or a loved one may be experiencing any of these symptoms ECA advises immediate attention by a doctor - preferably a specialist such as a Neurologist.

To read the full story on Focal Impaired / Complex partial seizures - follow the link to our event post below:




Focal onset seizures are the most common type of seizure experienced by people with epilepsy. Anybody can get them, but research suggests they may be more likely in people who have had a head injury, brain infection, stroke, or brain tumour. However in many cases the cause is unknown.

When the seizure begins in one side of the brain and the person has no loss of awareness of their surroundings during it, it is called a focal onset aware seizure (previously called a simple partial seizure). When people have focal aware seizures, they are fully awake, alert, and able to recall events during the seizure. Some are "frozen" during the seizure, so they may or may not be able to respond to others during the seizures. Overall, these seizures are brief, usually lasting less than 2 minutes - but people can experience them for much longer in many cases.

Several treatment options are available that can help prevent further focal onset aware seizures from occurring, including Anti-seizure medicines, Devices, Surgery and other options such as Dietary therapy.

To read the full story on Focal Impaired / Complex partial seizures - follow the link to our event post below:





An absence seizure causes a short period of “blanking out” or staring into space. Like other kinds of seizures, they are caused by brief abnormal electrical activity in a person’s brain.

There are two types of absence seizures (typical and atypical) that may look a bit different. Both types of seizures are short, and people often don’t notice them at first. They may come and go so quickly that no one notices anything wrong. Or observers may mistake the symptoms for simple daydreaming or not paying attention.

In about 7 out of 10 children with absence seizures, the seizures may go away by age 18. If this happens, medicines may not be needed as an adult. Children who start having absence seizures before age 9 are much more likely to outgrow them than children whose absence seizures start after age 10. Absence seizures are most common in children from age 4 to 14. However, older teens and adults may also have absence seizures. Some people have absence seizures for many months or years before it’s recognised as a problem.

To read the full story on Absence / Petit Mal seizures - follow the link to our event post below:



Links to other stories from our online event "Seizure Types: The basics"...


To read the full story on Infantile spasms / seizures - follow the link to our event post below:


To read the full story on Atonic / Drop seizures - follow the link to our event post below:


To read the full story on Myoclonic seizures - follow the link to our event post below:

You can also follow the provided link to view the entire online event with all included stories:


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