What Do Seizures Look Like?

Seizures can display differently in each person, but they generally fall under two types: primary generalized seizures and focal seizures (previously known as partial seizures). Primary generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain experiencing widespread electrical discharge. These seizures can occur in clusters and affect muscle control causing falling, jerking, or collapsing. The most dramatic primary generalized seizures are tonic-clonic seizures (previously known as grand mal seizures). These seizures usually last 1 to 3 minutes, result in loss of consciousness, loss of bladder control, body stiffening/shaking, biting of the tongue, and often require more time to recover.
Focal seizures are limited to single areas of the brain. These can be caused by brain injury such as stroke, tumor, and trauma, but often the cause is unknown. People having focal seizures may become nonresponsive, stare into space, experience a change in their senses, involuntary movement in limbs, repetitive movement, and may or may not lose consciousness or awareness. Learn more about seizures.


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