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Epilepsy Symptoms: Signs and Symptoms of Epilepsy

When speaking of epilepsy symptoms, the only visible symptom of this disease is seizures. There are various seizure types and symptoms of epileptic seizures are different in most cases.

Epilepsy Symptoms

Epilepsy Symptoms

Generally speaking, seizures last from a few seconds to minutes. People act differently while having these signs of epilepsy. Some remain alert in the duration of the seizure, while others lose consciousness. In some cases, people cannot remember what happened during the seizer or may be completely unaware that this epilepsy sign has actually happened.

Many seizure types make patients fall to the ground and make the muscles jerk out of control. These are easy to recognize, but there are some seizures that are not presented in such an active way. These epilepsy symptoms may be harder to notice and recognize. Such symptoms include staring into space, a couple of muscle twitches, head turn, or visual disturbance that only the patient can sense.

Symptoms of epilepsy often happen without any particular reason or warning. However, in some cases, people can sense an aura at the start of the seizure. Generally speaking, seizures can be of two types: partial and generalized.

Partial seizures occur at a specific brain location or area. These can be simple partial seizures and complex partial seizures, depending on the loss of consciousness and awareness in patients.

The latter occurs over the entire brain surface. There are a couple of main generalized seizures types, including generalized tonic-clonic seizure, absence seizure, myoclonic seizure, atonic seizure, and tonic seizure.

The seizures are epilepsy signs also referred to as fits, convulsions, and spells. They are also sometimes confused with seizures that are not a result of abnormal electrical brain function, called psychogenic seizures. These seizures are psychological responses to factors such as injury, stress and emotional trauma.

The behaviors that occur while a patient is having a seizure can vary greatly. Also, not all changes in behavior are considered to be seizures. There are certain symptoms that may be a result of other medical problems.

Seizures have specific characteristics, common for epileptic patients. Generally speaking, there are four main seizure characteristics:

  • Unpredictable: Seizures are unpredictable in most cases. You cannot predict where and when a seizure may occur.
  • Brief: In most cases, seizures last from a few seconds to a few minutes.
  • Episodic: Seizures are not permanent – they come and go.
  • Stereotypic: Seizures are re-occurring and the symptoms are similar every time they occur.

Warning signs of Epileptic seizures

There are various feelings and behaviors that result from seizures. These may occur at the beginning, the middle or even when the seizure ends. Sometimes they are somewhat of a warning that a seizure is occurring, but in most cases, they are a part of the seizure.

If you experience any of these symptoms, start keeping track of what is happening during this time in order to be able to share the information with the doctor.

Warning epilepsy signs or epileptic seizure signs can include:

  • Unusual taste
  • Unusual smell
  • Unusual feelings, often indescribable
  • Out of body sensations
  • The body feels or looks different
  • People unexpectedly start looking strange or familiar
  • Feeling confused
  • Feeling spacey
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory lapses
  • Jerking of arms, body or legs
  • Daydreaming and daydreaming episodes
  • Falling down
  • Tingling in some body parts
  • Numbness in some body parts
  • Feelings of electricity
  • Headaches
  • Losing urine or stool control unexpectedly
  • Sleepiness
  • Unexplained confusion or weakness

Very often, especially in kids, epilepsy seizures are not something they remember. Patients may not remember anything about the seizure and therefore, will not be able to describe the symptoms. Therefore, the person present when this happens should record what the seizure looks like and make sure to pay attention to some factors that may trigger the seizure. Anyone who observed the particular seizure can provide the doctor with valuable information in order to help in the process of diagnosing the patient.

Sometimes, people are showing partial seizures that often do not show any epilepsy signs. Asking these patients about their symptoms is the only way to understand the seizure.

First Symptom of Epilepsy – The First Seizure

Isolated seizures are not always epilepsy signs. There are certain seizures that can be triggered by other factors, such as fever, illnesses, medication, injury or trauma. There are many events that look like seizures but are not really epilepsy symptoms.

However, if you experience a first seizure, you should always rush to the doctor in order to evaluate it. Seizures come in many forms.

Epilepsy Signs according to Seizure Types

1. Simple Partial Seizure symptoms

The simple partial seizures can appear different depending on the patient and the affected brain area. A common feature of people suffering from this type of seizure is that they remember what happened during the seizure and remain alert. Some symptoms of simple partial seizures include:

  • Motor seizures
  • Brief contractions of muscle such as twitching, stiffening and jerking, most often starting in the finger, the face or the toe
  • Twitching spreads to other body parts, but on the same side of the initial site
  • Movement of head and eyes
  • Repeated way of seizure beginning every time
  • Consciousness
  • Sensory Seizures
  • Seeing stuff that is not there, like flashing lights and even shapes
  • Seeing things in a different size than normal
  • Hearing and smelling things that are not there
  • Consciousness
  • Feelings of needles or numbness
  • Autonomic Seizures
  • Heart rate changes
  • Breathing changes
  • Uncontrolled sweating
  • Pallor or flushing
  • Goosebumps
  • Consciousness
  • Psychic Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Garbled, mixed speech
  • Sudden unexpected emotions
  • Outside of body feeling
  • Déjà vu feeling

2. Complex Partial Seizure symptoms

There are many possible symptoms of complex partial seizures, including:

  • Feeling of fear
  • Nausea
  • Loss of awareness
  • After-seizure confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Staring in space
  • Automatisms like repeating phrases and words, uncontrolled mouth movements
  • Screaming and yelling, both when asleep and awake

3. Generalized Absence Seizure symptoms

The possible absence of seizures signs are:

  • Sudden stopping of activities
  • Staring
  • Unresponsive period of a few seconds, commonly confused with daydreaming
  • Non-responsive patient (when touched)
  • Becoming alert immediately after the seizure stops
  • Multiple seizures per day
  • Repetitive blinking
  • Head bobbing
  • Eyes are rolling up
  • Automated hand movements, licking and swallowing signs
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Other autonomic symptoms

4. Generalized Myoclonic Seizure symptoms

The possible symptoms of epilepsy of myoclonic seizures may include:

  • Brief jerks, involving a single arm or leg, or the whole body
  • Jerks occurring mostly upon waking of the patient
  • The patient remains conscious during seizures

5. Generalized Atonic Seizure symptoms

Some of the possible epilepsy signs and symptoms of atonic seizures include:

  • Sudden muscle tone loss
  • The patient falls to the ground or goes limp
  • The patient remains conscious most of the time during the seizure
  • Eyelids drop
  • Head nods
  • Jerking movements
  • The seizure lasts less than 15 seconds in most cases
  • The patient becomes alert right after the seizure

6. Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure symptoms

The possible tonic-clonic seizure signs and symptoms include:

  • The patient starts groaning or crying out loudly
  • The patient falls down or loses consciousness
  • Teeth clench
  • Lips can turn blue
  • Saliva or foam drip from the mouth
  • Stiff muscles
  • Increased heart and blood pressure rate.
  • Extreme sweating
  • Tremor
  • Jerking of arms and legs
  • Contracting and dilating pupils
  • The patient slowly regains consciousness after the seizure and may appear anxious, confused and even depressed

7. Neonatal Seizures symptoms

These seizures occur in newborns and are most often subtle and short. Neonatal seizures can include the following symptoms:

  • Repetitive movements on face, such as chewing or unusual eye movements
  • Unusual pedaling or bicycling movements
  • Staring in space
  • Apnea
  • Jerking movements that can also involve the face muscles, the tongue, legs, and arms
  • Muscle stiffening or tightening
  • Head and eyes turning to one side
  • Quick, single jerking of an arm, a leg or the whole body

8. Infantile Spasm symptoms

Infantile spasms usually begin in the first year of the life of an infant. It mostly begins between 3 and 7 months. Some signs of infantile spasms include:

  • Head bobbing
  • Flexor spasms
  • The child is bending at the waist
  • The neck, legs, and arms stretch out
  • The spasms are symmetrical in most cases
  • The spasms occur in clusters
  • The attacks usually last for 2-3 minutes and repeat after a few seconds
  • Rarely occur while the patient is sleeping
  • Often happen right after the child wakes up
  • The child becomes exhausted after the spasms

Recording Symptoms and Signs of Epilepsy

Keeping track of the symptoms and the signs of epilepsy is the most important thing when it comes to epilepsy diagnosis. If you wish to keep track of your symptoms, you should pay attention to:

  • The time of day when the seizure occurs
  • Activities prior to the seizure
  • Beginning stage of the seizure
  • Medications intake in time of the seizure
  • Whether you are tired, stressed or sick
  • Any warning signs present
  • Movements during the seizure and what they looked like
  • Ability to talk or respond in the duration of the seizure
  • Making sounds during the seizure
  • Size of the body where symptoms occurred (if any)
  • Duration of the seizure
  • Gaining consciousness after the seizure
  • Whether you were conscious during the seizure

As you have noticed, there are many epilepsy symptoms that mainly depend of the type of seizure of the patient. In order to set a proper diagnosis, a doctor must be introduced to the symptoms of the epileptic attack.